The Supreme Court yesterday said that a mother has the complete right to decide on the surname for her child. The statement came when the court was hearing an appeal against the January 2014 judgement of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which allowed a widowed woman to change her child’s surname after remarriage. The appeal demanded that the woman restore the child’s surname to that of her late husband’s in all the official documents or at least mention her new husband as the step-father.
However, the court dismissed the appeal saying that the woman had every right to give her child whatever surname she wished to, as she was the only natural parent. “After the demise of her first husband, being the only natural guardian of the child we fail to see how the mother can be lawfully restrained from including the child in her new family and deciding the surname of the child,” said a bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari.
Meanwhile, the court also said that to name the new husband as the step-father would affect the child’s mental health and so it was really not appropriate. The bench also said that when the mother and the new husband were both ready to be parents of the child, a different surname would constantly remind the child of his situation. This is an unnecessary burden for the child. The bench said, “It is almost cruel and mindless of how it would impact the mental health and self-esteem of the child.”