Unwed mums to get legal guardianship of kids without dad's consent!

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Now, as per law, an unwed mother will be recognized as the legal guardian of her child... a lone woman's 5-year long battle finally pays off! Read on

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Filmmaker Anindita Sarbadhicari with her son, Aarush

Anindita Sarbadhicari is a happy woman. In the light of the monumental judgement passed by the Indian judiciary to do with unwed mothers, Sarbadhicari, a filmmaker from Kolkata, and a single mum herself said, “I’m thrilled and jubilant at the verdict. This was long overdue. Kudos to the lady who fought this battle and came out victorious.”

The hero behind the verdict

And we can’t help but get up and give a little bow for the lady (She chooses to remain anonymous) who fought this long battle. 6th June, 2015 will be an unforgettable day for this mum. While she gave birth to her child in 2010, it took her five, long-winding years, in and out of courtrooms, to claim legal guardianship of the child. Sounds straight out of a Bollywood flick? No, it’s not.

Yesterday when the Supreme Court gave the path breaking verdict on gender equality, there was a collective sigh of relief, as this lone woman who fought her battle, was supported by other like minded, progressive members of our society.

What is the verdict

The Supreme Court ruled that an unwed mother must be recognized as the legal guardian of her child and she cannot be forced to name the father, nor does she need his consent, while deciding guardianship rights.

According to sources, a bench of Justices Vikramajit Sen and Abhay Manohar Sapre said it was necessary to protect the child from social stigma. But it was equally important to protect the unmarried mother’s fundamental right by not forcing her to disclose the name and particulars of her child’s father.

Continue reading to find out about the implications of this law

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Unwed mother gets guardianship of the child as per Supreme Court ruling

Implications of the verdict

The bench said that the father’s consent was unnecessary as it would mean giving legal recognition to the man who had left the mother and showed no concern for his offspring’s welfare. The order, however, would not affect the child’s right to know the father’s identity. The court further made this a strong case for ushering in a Uniform Civil Code.

Throwing light on the code (or the lack of it), Fazaa Shroff-Garg, lawyer and co-author of Breaking Up: Your Step-by-step Guide to Getting Divorced, Mumbai, explains, “The Uniform Civil Code is a long pending debate to replace the personal laws created for each major religious community in India. It applies primarily to matters of marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance. The whole idea is to have a uniform law for the citizens of India, irrespective of the religion they follow so that there is no disparity.”

However, this judgement is also open for varied interpretations. Like Rakesh K Singh, lawyer, founder, RKS Associate, points out, “The new diktat is applicable to unwed mothers. It doesn’t get in to the issue of widows, wherein the Hindu Minority and Guardianship act comes up.” 

He further adds another angle, “There is a difference between abandoning a child and being unaware that you have a child. While in the former case, this law is perfect, but how do you deal with a situation when the father isn’t aware that he actually has a child? What about his right to know?”

The ray of hope beckons

As for Sarbadhicari, mum to a toddler, while she realises this ruling will not affect her, she still sees reasons to rejoice. Explaining why this matters to her so much, she says, “I’m a single mum who conceived via IVF. So there is no direct impact of this law on me or my child. However, it’s just heartwarming to know there is relief in store for women who are stuck in a situation as was the case of the lady who brought about this amendment.”

Like Shroff-Garg says, “The Indian legal fraternity has taken a major step forward, giving a woman respect with this women-friendly, progressive and proactive order.” Kudos to that!

What do you think about the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of the unwed mother? Let us know in our Comment box below.

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Written by

Divya Nair