Rights of an Unmarried Mother

Rights of an Unmarried Mother


-Bhagya Subhash 



In India, since time immemorialwomen are portrayed as a section to be guarded; by father during childhood, by husband during adulthood, and by son during old age and hence unwedded mothers have always been an outlaw. During precedent times as well as at present ‘Marriage’ has been the ultimate notion of acceptance in Indian society, and wherefore an unwedded mother has been considered nothing less than a pariah and has to face enervating challenges to meet ends. 

Legal Status :- 

The Supreme Court has saved all
Indian unmarried mothers in the case of ABC v/s. The State (NCT of Delhi)[1], the court held in favour of the petitioner, a single mother who raised her son alone. She had filed an application for childcare with the local authority in order to allow her child, her nominee in all her assets and other insurance policies. She was nevertheless told that she had to state her father's name or receive a certificate of guardian / adoption from the Court. She approached the Guardian Court, and demanded under Section 7 of the Guardians and Wards Act,1890 to appoint her the sole guardian of her son. But the court asked her to disclose the name of her son’s biological father, and send notice as under Section 11 of the same act. She disagreed and went to the High Court, but her grievance could not be redressed there too. Later, in the Supreme Court only did she find relief, it held that a mother could be the sole guardian of her child even without the consent of biological father. Moreover, the court also held that it is not mandatory to disclose the name of the deserted

Similarly, in Naraya v/s. Sapurna the court held that if the father fails or refuses to fulfil his duty or is incapable of functioning as a guardian. Then the mother is the natural guardian without being appointed by the court. Besides, under Hindu personal law, the mother is the natural guardian of an illegitimate minor child, even if the father is alive. A mother is the chef, teacher, doctor and everything that is necessary, she would take that role up and hence is sufficient for child’s parenting and guardianship. 

Further, under Hindu personal law, the mother is the natural guardian of an illegitimate minor child, even if the father is alive. Indistinguishable in Muslim personal law, until the father accepts fatherhood the guardian of an illegitimate child is the mother.  

Furthermore,the legislature is taking forward steps to ensure safety of single mothers as well. The Assisted Reproductive bill which is still a subject of consideration in Rajya Sabha, is a big leap towards legitimatisation of children born out of wed-lock.
All this being done, being a single mother is not less than a crime in Indian society, but many women have now over grown the fear of society and are doing what is suitable to them. According to a report by United Nations in 2019 there are around 13 million lone mothers, either divorced or unwedded. Nonetheless, the Indian society is a progressive one and is evolving with time. However, in comparison to western countries India is many decades away from normalising being an unmarried mother. From being1% of the parliament to14.3% in 2019 elections women in India have come a long way, yet far to go. India is encouraging its daughters to break all the glass ceiling that exist. 

[1] 2015 SC 609 

 image source- www.google.com

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