and Maintenance Act, (HAMA) 1956
HAMA (amended 1960 & 1962) came into force in December
1956 and is applicable to Hindus all over India, except
the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It covers all Hindus,
including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs and those raised as
Hindus. The main feature of this codified Act is that
any Hindu (who has attained majority, male or female,
and is of sound mind) can adopt a child provided that
the following conditions are met:
The age difference between parent and adopted child
(specifically, between adoptive father and adopted
daughter, and adoptive mother and adoptive son) must
be minimum 21 years. This is to prevent sexual abuse
of the child by the adoptive parent(s).
For a married male intending to adopt, the consent
of the spouse is necessary unless she is of unsound
mind, has ceased to be a Hindu or has renounced the
married female cannot adopt a child during the
lifetime of her husband without his consent unless
he is of unsound mind and incapable of making
decisions or giving consent.
unmarried or widowed or divorced Hindu female can
adopt a child.
single female can make an adoption to herself in her
The principle right to give a child in adoption lies
only with the natural father, but the mother’s
consent is necessary if she is living. The
biological mother can give the child in adoption if
the father is dead or of unsound mind. An orphan
child can be placed for adoption by a guardian duly
appointed by the court.
In-country adoption is a private act between the
natural and adoptive parents, not requiring the
scrutiny or permission of the court, except when a
person other than the natural guardian is giving the
child in adoption.
All adoptions under HAMA are secular, so that
religious ceremonies such as ‘Dattak Homa’ are not
The HAMA abrogates all pre-Act customs and usages
pertaining to adoption except in two areas, where
custom is preserved:
(i) A married child can be adopted, if custom
permits such an adoption, and
(ii) A child of fifteen years or above can be
adopted if custom permits such an adoption.
in the natural family some property was vested in
the child before adoption, that will remain in him
and he cannot be divested of it just because he has
gone out to another family of adoption. Further, the
child retains ‘sapinda’ relationship and degrees of
prohibited relationship in his natural family for
the purpose of marriage.