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The Supreme Court holds that a mother can give the surname of a second husband to a child after the death of the biological father.

Akella Lalita vs Sri Konda Hanumantha Rao


Akella Lalita vs Sri Konda Hanumantha Rao

The Supreme Court while hearing an appeal by the mother of the child in a dispute between the mother, who remarried another man after the death of first husband, and the parents of the deceased biological father of the child (grandparents) was about the surname that should be given to the child.

The mother had approached the Supreme Court challenging a direction issued by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, while disposing of an appeal that arose from a petition under Section 10 of the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 to restore the surname of the child. The High Court had directed that wherever the records permit, the name of the natural father shall be shown and if it is otherwise impermissible, the name of the new husband of the mother shall be mentioned as step-father.


The Supreme Court held that:

"Name is important as a child derives his identity from it and a difference in name from his family would act as a constant reminder of the factum of adoption and expose the child to unnecessary questions hindering a smooth, natural relationship between him and his parents. We, therefore, see nothing unusual in Appellant mother, upon remarriage having given the child the surname of her husband or even giving the child in adoption to her husband", it said.


The top Court further observed:

"To obviate any uncertainty it is reiterated that the mother being the only natural guardian of the child has the right to decide the surname of the child. She also has the right to give the child up for adoption. The Court may have the power to intervene but only when a prayer specific to that effect is made and such prayer must be centred on the premise that child's interest is the primary consideration and it outweighs all other considerations. With the above observations the directions of the High Court so far as the surname of the child is concerned are set aside."


Akella Lalita vs Sri Konda Hanumantha Rao


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