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NEW DELHI: Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the Centre’s response on a woman’s petition challenging a govt rule on use of maiden surname by married women.
A govt notification mandates women wanting to use their maiden surname to furnish a decree of divorce or a no-objection certificate from their husband. The plea, which was filed by a woman in the midst of divorce proceedings with her husband, argued that the notification infringed upon her right to “autonomy and privacy” and reflected “gender bias.”
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora issued notice on the petition challenging the notification issued by the department of publication, ministry of housing and urban affairs with respect to “change of name”, and asked central govt to file its response within four weeks.
The petitioner woman, who had added her now estranged husband’s surname to her name, said she wanted to revert to her earlier surname but the requirement was in violation of the provisions of the Constitution. She asserted that a person’s choice of name was a vital aspect of their identity and self-expression. The notification shows an “evident gender bias” and poses an obstacle to her right to revert to her maiden surname amid the ongoing divorce proceedings, she further said in her petition.
“The impugned notification, requiring an applicant obtaining a maiden surname to submit a copy of the decree of divorce or a no-objection certificate from her husband, along with additional documents such as an ID proof and mobile number, coupled with the provision that the change of name cannot be processed until a final verdict is pronounced in matters before a court of law, is not in conformity with the principles of equality before the law as enshrined in the Constitution of India,” the petition said.
The plea said “the notification violates the right to privacy as it mandates divorced women to submit a copy of the decree of divorce and married women to obtain no-objection certificate from their spouse if they wished to adopt their maiden surname. This requirement intrudes upon the private sphere of a woman, compelling her to disclose sensitive personal information, thereby infringing upon their autonomy and right to privacy”.


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