President Pratibha Patil has given assent to the Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, which aims at bringing about gender equality in guardianship under the Guardian and Wards Act and in the matter of adoption under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act.

Under the Guardians and Wards Act, the new legislation would amend clause (b) of Section 19.

Till now, under its clause, courts could appoint someone as a guardian for a minor if the father is unfit to be a guardian, even if the mother is fit to take the role. The amendment changes this. Now the mother will also be able to be the guardian, if the father is unfit.

In the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, the law amends Sections 8 and 9.

Till now, only a man can adopt a child or give a child in adoption, with the consent of his wife. The amendment allows a woman also to adopt a child or give a child in adoption with the consent of her husband. The amendment would be of benefit particularly to those women, who are separated from their husbands or are in the midst of a lengthy battle for divorce to adopt a child.

The President gave her assent on Tuesday and the legislation was published in the official gazette on Wednesday.

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