By YKA Staff:
In a first, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that an unwed mother could have the guardianship of a child without the need for the consent of the father. The petitioner, a gazetted government officer, had argued that she should be allowed to have sole guardianship of her child as the father of the child had known her for only two months and passport application forms don’t require one to mandatorily identify one’s father.
This move has been welcomed because of the stigma surrounding children born to unmarried parents. The SC ruling shows that there is nothing wrong with a parent having sole guardianship when there is no procedural necessity for identifying both parents. A court appointed advocate had earlier argued that the child did have the right to know the father and have his affection. However, the mother had argued that since the father did not even know about the child, she should not be bound to identify the father of the child.
In Githa Hariharan vs Reserve Bank of India, the court had interpreted Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, to declare that both parents are the natural guardians of a child. The new SC ruling is going to create a further precedent for the mother not being treated as a guardian after the father, which a literal interpretation of the Act would deem.
Note: This article has been edited to add the argument about the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956.