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Child has the right to use mother’s surname: Delhi High Court

A father does not own the daughter to dictate terms and every child has a right to use his or her mother’s surname. The child is free to use the surname of the mother and is not bound legally to use to the surname of the father. This was held by Hon’ble Justice Rekha Palli in the case of Vindhya Saxena Vs. East Delhi Municipal Corporation [W.P.(C) 7855/2021] on the 06th of august, 2021 before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi at New Delhi.

The brief facts of the case are, the marriage of petitioner no.2 was solemnized with respondent no.3 on 07.03.2014, and they were blessed with a minor daughter on 26.01.2015, who has been arrayed as petitioner no.1 in the present petition. At the time of her birth, the name of petitioner no.1 was recorded as ‘Ms. Vindhya Saxena’ in the records of the EDMC and a birth certificate was accordingly issued on 22.07.2015. It appears that after her birth, a Sukanya Samridhi Account (SSA) was opened with the State Bank of India in the name of petitioner no.1, where she is described as ‘Ms. Vindhya Saxena’. Her name was also added as a nominee in respect of a LIC Policy taken by her father. Soon thereafter, matrimonial disputes arose between petitioner no.2 and respondent no.3, who are since living separately. As a consequence, the minor daughter is residing with her mother, who approached the EDMC to issue a revised birth certificate by incorporating the petitioner no.1’s new name – ‘Ms. Nitya Shrivastav’. Upon the aforesaid request made by the mother, the respondent no.1 issued a revised birth certificate on 10.08.2018, wherein the petitioner no.1’s name is described as ‘Ms. Vindhya Saxena alias Ms. Nitya Shrivastav’. The said certificate also mentions the name of the petitioner no.2 as her father and that of respondent no.3 as her mother. The present writ petition has been preferred on behalf of a minor girl, aged 6 years, through her father who is a co-petitioner along with her seeking to strike off the name given by the mother.

The counsel for the father (petitioner no. 2) submits that, the petitioner no.2 is the biological father and natural guardian of the petitioner no.1 and has been regularly paying maintenance to her; he is entitled to claim that the minor child must solely use the name given by him at the time of her birth. He submits that the respondent no.3 has no right to change the name or surname of the petitioner no.1 and must use the name given by him to petitioner no.1 at the time of her birth. He further submits that the petitioner no.2 is aggrieved by the unilateral change in name made by respondent no.3, as the same is likely to affect the petitioner no.1’s rights under the Sukanya Samridhi Account as also the LIC Policy, which is under the name of ‘Ms. Vindhya Saxena’. He also submits that despite the petitioner no.2 paying regular maintenance, his name is not reflected as the father of petitioner no.1 in the records of SLS DAV Public School – where the petitioner no.1 is presently studying. The counsel for respondent no.3 (mother) submitted that the present petition has been is wholly misconceived and is only an attempt to somehow settle scores with his estranged wife. It was also submitted that, that the petitioner no.2, merely on account of being the biological father, is insisting that it is only the name which he had given to the petitioner no.1 at birth, should be always used by her and that too, in a situation where the minor child is residing with her mother. Once the revised birth certificate records both names of the petitioner no.1, there is absolutely no prejudice caused to the petitioner no.2 and there is no reason why the petitioner no.1 will not be permitted to avail the benefits under the Sukanya Samridhi Account or the LIC policy.

The learned judge heard the submissions of both the parties and observed that, t the petitioner no.2 is trying to assert his rights over his 6-year-old daughter, merely because he happens to be the biological father and that too by raising grievances regarding change in her name, which has caused no prejudice whatsoever to the petitioner no.2. The above petition was dismissed by holding, “A father does not own the daughter to dictate that she should use only his surname. If the minor daughter is happy with her surname, what is your problem? Every child has a right to use his/her mother’s surname if he/she wishes to.” With regards to he name in the records of the school, the court directed the petitioner to approach the school directly and take the necessary steps.

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