The ‘Guardian and Wards Act, 1890’ is an Indian legislation that deals with matters related to guardianship and custody of minor children. It provides guidelines for the appointment and functions of guardians, as well as the rights and obligations of both guardians and wards.

Key Provisions:

  1. Guardianship: The Act defines a guardian as someone who has the legal authority and responsibility to care for the person and property of a minor child. It outlines different types of guardians, including natural guardians (parents), testamentary guardians (appointed through a will), and court-appointed guardians.
  2. Appointment of Guardians: The Act sets forth the process for appointing guardians. It allows parents to appoint a guardian for their minor child through a will or other legal means. If there is no such appointment, the court can step in and appoint a suitable guardian in the best interest of the child.
  3. Powers and Duties of Guardians: The Act outlines the powers and duties of guardians. Guardians are expected to protect and maintain the child, manage their property, provide for their education, and make decisions in their best interest. However, certain actions require prior court approval, such as selling or mortgaging the child’s immovable property.
  4. Custody of Children: The Act also addresses matters related to the custody of children. It empowers the court to determine custody disputes and make decisions regarding the child’s welfare and upbringing.
  5. Termination of Guardianship: The Act provides for the termination of guardianship in certain circumstances, such as when the child reaches adulthood or the guardian becomes unfit or incapable of fulfilling their responsibilities.

Recent Developments:

Over the years, the Guardian and Wards Act has undergone amendments and witnessed judicial interpretations to ensure its relevance and effectiveness. Here are some notable recent developments:

  1. Emphasis on Child Welfare: Recent judgments by the courts have reinforced the Act’s objective of prioritizing the best interests and welfare of the child. The courts consider factors such as the child’s physical and emotional well-being, education, and overall development when appointing or modifying guardianship.
  2. Gender-Neutral Approach: Courts have taken a progressive stance by adopting a gender-neutral approach in appointing guardians, recognizing that both men and women can serve as suitable guardians based on the child’s best interests.
  3. Protection of Rights: The Act is aligned with constitutional principles and safeguards the fundamental rights of minors. Courts have reiterated the importance of respecting the child’s rights to life, liberty, and dignity while determining guardianship matters.


The Guardian and Wards Act plays a pivotal role in protecting the interests and rights of minors in India. Its provisions ensure that responsible individuals are appointed as guardians, who are entrusted with making decisions in the best interests of the child. Recent developments reflect a growing emphasis on child welfare, a gender-neutral approach, and the protection of minors’ fundamental rights.

Written by: Anjali Bablani, an advocate practicing in Delhi NCR with over 7 years of experience. She has authored several articles on various topics and is passionate about women empowerment, Human right and environmental law.


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