Delhi High Court issue Notice to government on conditions imposed on married women for using maiden name [29.2.2024]

The Delhi High Court, on Thursday, issued a notice to the Centre on a plea challenging its notification related to the conditions imposed on married women to obtain their maiden surname.

The plea alleges gender bias and an "impermissible discrimination" against women as the conditions and requisites are applied only on them.

The Centre's notification, issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, imposes conditions on women to submit a copy of the decree of divorce or a no objection certificate (NOC) from their husbands if they wish to revert to their maiden surnames after marriage.

The notification also says that if the matter is pending in a court of law, the name change of the applicant will not be processed until the verdict is out.

The plea was filed by a complainant, Divya Modi, who took her husband's surname 'Tongya' after marriage but wishes to revert it now. The couple is entangled in a divorce battle.

"This notification poses an obstacle to the Petitioner's right to change her surname to her maiden surname amid ongoing divorce proceedings. Consequently, this action is violative of Article 14, 19(1)(a), and 21 of the Constitution, and is contradictory to the principles of natural justice," the plea states.

The petitioner also alleged that the notification results in a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law to all the citizens of India. Additionally, she evoked a violation of privacy rights and the freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

"...The requirement for divorce-related documentation or an NOC from the husband creates arbitrary obstacles, unnecessarily affecting divorced women," the plea states.

01 Mar 2024