Unwed Mother BYL
Unwed mothers are women who give birth to child outside wedlock. A child born outside wedlock faces lots of problem. Societies do not put them in the same line as the kid born out of marriage. Even unwed mothers often hear lewd and indecent comments. Society is so narrow-minded that rather than praising her for taking the decision of giving birth to child criticize her for the same. Society never sees the mistake of the man who deserted her because after all we live in a male dominant society where everyone talks about ‘women empowerment’ but never follows it in their day to day life. People worship goddess Durga for 10days but a woman will never be given that respect even in her 10th rebirth. Talking about Unwed mothers, in the 20th century mostly women from west had the courage to give birth to child outside wedlock but they also faced many problems. Pregnancy, for a married women it was considered as time of joy and celebration but for an unmarried women it is the time of shame and guilt. Some out of wedlock births are intended, but many are unintentional. Out of wedlock births are not acceptable to society, and they often result in single parenting. A partner may also leave as he may want to shirk responsibility of bringing up the child. This also may result in a negative impact on the child.
Moreover, in India under S. 6(a) of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act,1956, the father of the Hindu minor is the only guardian and the mother of the minor is relegated to an inferior position, though new act with regard to this has been enacted but people’s mentality is still the same.
SUPREME COURT’s RECENT JUDGEMENT IN THIS REGARD
In a progressive judgment of, ABC v. The State (NCT of Delhi) Supreme Court has allowed an unmarried mother to apply for guardianship of her child without sending a mandatory notice to the father who did not have any ties with the child after its birth. Court has also directed that name of the father may not be made public and may also not be necessary for obtaining child’s birth certificate, passport and for school purposes. Earlier for getting guardianship of the child the unmarried mother must either declare the name of the father or get a guardianship/adoption certificate from the Court. It was submitted that the future of her child would be marred by any controversy regarding his paternity should the father refuse to acknowledge the child as his own. It was also submitted that as the father is already married, any publicity as to a declaration of his fathering a child out of wedlock would have pernicious repercussions to his present family and there would be severe social complications for her and her child. It was put forward that as, as per Section 7 of the Act , the interest of the minor is the only relevant factor for appointing of a guardian, and the rights of the mother and father are subservient thereto.
Court held that woman’s fundamental right of privacy would be violated if she is forced to disclose the name and particulars of the father of her child. It observed that any responsible man would keep track of his offspring and be concerned for the welfare of the child he has brought into the world and this did not appear to be so in the present case.
POSSITIVE STEPS TAKEN BY SUPREME COURT IN REGARD TO THIS CASE:-
Parent in Section 11 can mean a single parent:
Accepting the woman’s contention of letting her alone be the parent, SC held:
Section 11 is purely procedural; we see no harm or mischief in relaxing its requirements to attain the intendment of the Act. Given that the term “parent” is not defined in the Act, we interpret it, in the case of illegitimate children whose sole caregiver is one of his/her parents, to principally mean that parent alone.
The uninvolved parent is therefore not precluded from approaching the Guardian Court to quash, vary or modify its orders if the best interests of the child so indicate.
Child may have a right to know his parents-
Referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which India is a party, court observed that right of a child to know the identity of his or her parents has found unquestionable recognition in the Convention. Court also obtained the name and available particular of the father in a duly sealed envelope.
Father’s name not needed for birth certificate, passport and school purposes-
It may be recalled that owing to curial fiat, it is no longer necessary to state the name of the father in applications seeking admission of children to school, as well as for obtaining a passport for a minor child.
Accordingly, the SC directed that if a single parent/unwed mother apply for the issuance of a Birth Certificate for a child born from her womb, the Authorities concerned may only require her to furnish an affidavit to this effect, and must thereupon issue the Birth Certificate, unless there is a Court direction to the contrary.
In today’s society, where women are increasingly choosing to raise their children alone, there is no purpose in imposing an unwilling and unconcerned father on an otherwise viable family nucleus and a man who has chosen to forsake his duties and responsibilities is not a necessary constituent for the well-being of the child.
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