The issue of women’s rights has come into the spotlight following a recent ruling of the Kerala High Court granting permission to a person to name his mother alone on his birth certificate, identity certificates, and other documents. The order came on a woman’s plea seeking replacement of father’s name with hers from the birth certificate of his son.
Since ages, women and children have been entitled to adopt the men’s identity (caste, creed, and religion). Whether married or single, or even an unwed mother, the name of the father has always been mandatory for completing any documents in the country. The name of a biological father on a passport used to be mandatory till 2016 when the rule was repealed.
The court’s contention is that child of an unwed mother or a rape victim is also a bona fide citizen of our nation, and hence no one can violate any of his or her fundamental rights. Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, in the groundbreaking verdict, ruled that everyone has the right to replace mother’s name on his or her birth certificate and other documents.
He further said that any authority cannot limit a person’s right to privacy, dignity, and liberty. Every citizen of this country should imagine the emotional anguish of such a person while invading his/her privacy.
To elaborate on the mental agony experienced by people who may not know the identity of their parents, Justice Kunhikrishanan referred to the story of Karna in the epic Mahabharatha. Karna was not aware about his parents until his mother, Kunthi Devi, revealed the truth to him.
The judgment quotes from Karnashapadham, an attakadha (story) written by Mali Madhavan Nair that depicts Karna’s mental agony.
Mandeep Kaur, 40, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, says, “I’m unmarried and don’t want to marry in future. But I want to adopt a child. With this decision, single mothers will be able to be a legal guardian of their children. She said the decision is very progressive towards the empowerment of women.
The court also noted that single-parent families were on the rise for a variety of reasons, including “unwed mothers, sex workers, surrogate moms, rape survivors, children abandoned by father, and children conceived through IVF (in vitro fertilisation) technology.”
“As a result, this court believes that in certain circumstances, such as the current one, the mother’s name is sufficient to apply for a birth certificate or any other documents, particularly when a single woman can be both a natural guardian and a parent,” it stated.