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Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s BRINDA KARAT hails the landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court  granting guardianship rights to unwed mothers.

She spoke to SHANTANU GUHA RAY


ON July 7, the Supreme Court had to ask India to grow up and accept the fact that a woman can take good care of a child all by herself. And then it pronounced a judgment on an unwed mother’s guardianship of a child born out of wedlock. While declaring this, Justice Vikramjit Sen also overturned a judgment by the Delhi High Court, which held a contrary opinion.

Across the country, the SC judgment has been hailed as a landmark one. It is a breath of fresh air for thousands of women who continue to live behind old, suffocating patriarchal barriers.
Being a single mother in India always touches the raw nerve, the woman is ridiculed and harassed. She is often the subject of pity and criticism. And to have a biological child out of wedlock, comes with loads of unwanted social stigma and shame.

I am happy that the court recognised the same.

I think what is very encouraging and interesting is the fact that the country’s apex court has understood the predicament of a woman who is unable to put the name of her son or daughter as nominee to her savings and insurance policies. The social media, Facebook and Twitter, are full of such examples of women who have tremendous financial liquidity and need no men to groom their wards.

There are cases where daughters and sons have rued how their passports and college certificates have names of the father and not the mother. I think it’s cruel, inhuman. India’s convoluted system insisted that the child’s biological father must be identified in official documents. Why? No one had an answer.

The court has allowed women their right to privacy. What is ironical is the fact that the court observed a lot of women were choosing to bring up children alone. It means a change has already set into the Indian society. I think the Indian political system should now wake up and elaborate on the need for the Indian society to evolve, so that such fears don’t stalk women. Ideally, having a child should not lead to severe complications. Actually, it does not in many countries. Why should it happen in India?

The time has come to change ourselves. We—as a society—must evolve. Don’t we know a mother is best-suited to take care of a child born out of wedlock? The Supreme Court, brilliantly, identified “affection” or “mamata” as the reason why the mother should have the right to a child born out of wedlock.

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