Women’s rights campaigners have hailed a landmark court ruling in India that paves the way for unwed single mothers to be the sole legal guardians of their children without the need to obtain permission from the children’s father.
The ruling follows a case brought by one woman, a government official, who appealed to the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court had ordered her to disclose the father’s name in order to get his consent while filing a guardianship petition.
The woman had argued that her relationship with the father had lasted just two months and that he did not even know the child existed.
Under Indian law, the “natural” guardian of a minor is considered to be “the father, and after him, the mother”, giving precedence to the father in everything from school applications to passports.
But on Monday, Supreme Court 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”.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, hailed what she called Supreme Court’s “progressive” decision but demanded that the country’s highest court go further by declaring that “every mother is the natural and legal guardian of a child.”
“In how many schools, do they will still ask for the father’s name as the guardian of the child,” she said.
“Why is that?”