The Supreme Court has, in an unintentional droll judgement, once again proved why it might just be one of the best things to happen to the county. SC, on Monday, ruled that an unwed Hindu mother could be appointed as the sole legal guardian of her minor child. All this without the hassle of procuring the consent of the father.
So what this means is that even if the father was in the picture, which in this case he was not, the mother n eed not declare his name. Basically, she can have full custody of the child in line with her constitutional rights.
In the case filed by the Delhiite she had asked the court's permission to become her child's "legal guardian" without informing the father. She had contended that the man stayed with her barely for two months and was not even aware of the child's existence.
The Guardians and Wards Act and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act require that a notice be sent to the child’s father to obtain his consent when a plea for guardianship is moved.
In this case, the woman had questioned this need. She had said any disclosure would create more problems for both parents. She had also asserted her right not to disclose the parentage, arguing that the father did not have anything to do with the upbringing of the child, Indian Express reported .
The woman has pointed out that if identifying the father is not mandatory on a passport application form, this can be allowed in a guardianship case, too, under “exceptional circumstances”.
But on Monday, Justices Vikramjit Sen and Abhay Manohar Sapre said there was "no need to insist on the father's name" and that in the case of an unwed mother, her "name is sufficient". The bench, led by Sen, was adjudicating the plea by the unwed mother who challenged the statutory necessity of involving the father of her child in a guardianship petition.
This ruling has overturned earlier court orders which said a woman needed the father's consent if she wanted to be a legal guardian of her child. With a trial court in Delhi and the High Court ruling against her, she had filed an appeal in SC back in 2011. The bench quashed the orders by the trial court and the High Court. The apex court said that the lower courts, including high court, had lost sight of the issue that was and decided the matter without taking into account the actual welfare of the child.
SC has now sent the matter to a trial court for hearing it afresh without issuing a notice to the father.
Looks like SC has finally realised that the times are changing. This groundbreaking precedent is being hailed as a welcome move. Ranjana Kumari, a women's rights activist and director of the Delhi-based Centre for Social Research think tank, described it as a " progressive stand ."
What we would like to point out is that with this judgment SC has given its stamp of approval to a woman's status as an unwed mother of a child. This is the stuff that landmark judgements are made of.
Did 21st century just call? We are hoping that this precedent surpasses religions. This just goes to prove that it is time we brought equality to guardianship laws.