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Legal Battle: Indian Women's Maiden Name Rights



  Mar 11, 2024

Indian Women’s Right to Maiden Name: A Legal Challenge: Jigya Yadav vs. CBSE



In an era marked by significant advancements for women in various fields, the requirement for a married woman to obtain her husband’s consent to revert to her maiden surname has sparked a legal challenge in India. A government notification mandates that a woman seeking to revert to her maiden name must present either a divorce decree or a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from her husband, a stipulation that has led to a petition in the Delhi High Court by 40-year-old Divya Modi Tongya, amidst her ongoing divorce proceedings.

Key Points of the Issue:

1. Mandatory Husband’s NOC: According to the notification from the Department of Publication, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, a woman must secure an NOC from her husband to legally revert to her maiden name, a requirement that applies even if the divorce proceedings are ongoing and the husband refuses to provide an NOC.

2. Legal Challenge and Allegations of Discrimination: Divya Modi Tongya’s writ petition in the Delhi High Court argues that the notification infringes upon her fundamental rights as outlined in the Indian Constitution, specifically citing violations of Article 14 (equality before the law), Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression), and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty).

3. Fundamental Rights Concerns: The petition emphasizes that a person’s name is a crucial aspect of their identity and self-expression, and the requirement to obtain an NOC infringes on a woman’s privacy and autonomy. It points out the inconsistency of this requirement with the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Jigya Yadav vs. CBSE case, which underscored an individual’s control over their name.

4. Discriminatory Implications: The notification is criticized for imposing disproportionate and gender-biased conditions on women seeking to change their names, contrasting with the process for individuals wishing to adopt a surname different from their parents’, which only necessitates an affidavit.

This legal challenge sheds light on the broader issue of gender equality and the autonomy of women over their identities in India. It underscores the evolving debate on women’s rights and societal norms in a country where the law does not mandate women to take their husband’s surname but places conditions on reverting to their maiden name post-marriage.


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