An unwed mother in India can now become the legal guardian of her baby under certain circumstances, without approval from the biological, uninvolved father.
The Supreme Court of India gave this landmark judgment with respect to a guardianship plea put forth by an unwed mother. Keeping in mind the welfare of the child, it awarded guardianship to the unwed mother who did not want to reveal the child's father's name. In fact, the mother stated that the father was totally unaware of the child's birth and was completely uninvolved in the child's upbringing. Current rules indicate that a mother can apply for sole guardianship of the child only after prior consent of the father, and may even not be able to do so if the father is alive and fit.
AdvertisementThe ruling brings great relief to all unwed mothers in India who take all the responsibility for their children and have yet to approach the biological father for any permission in legal matters, even if the father does not take up the responsibility of the child. The judgment is also important as it recognizes the role of a mother in the upbringing of her child, and especially that of a single mother.
Unfortunately, in the Indian society, things have yet to change at the ground level. For most legal matters, the father's name is required. There are still people who look upon children born from unwed mothers as illegitimate. Single mothers are looked upon with disdain, while the person who fathered the child may be a highly respected person in the society.
The court also directed authorities to issue birth certificates to children of unwed mothers or single parents on the bases of an affidavit alone.
The order does not imply that the child does not have the right to know who his father is.. However, the entire judgment is focused on the welfare of the child. This judgment will hopefully protect children involved in similar situations from social stigma, and avoid the unnecessary involvement of the biological father who may not play any role in the child's upbringing.