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Delhi HC seeks Centre's reply on plea against notification imposing restrictions on women for change of surname

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Delhi HC seeks Centre's reply on plea against notification imposing restrictions on women for change of surname

New Delhi, Feb 29 (Ajit Weekly News) A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the Centre’s notification requiring an applicant wishing to obtain her maiden surname to submit a copy of a decree of divorce or a no-objection certificate from her husband, along with the copy of identification proof and mobile number.

Petitioner Divya Modi Tongya has assailed the impugned notification issued by the Department of Publication, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, saying that is patently discriminatory, arbitrary, unreasonable, and violates her fundamental rights under Article 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

Since the notification also says that if the matter is in the court of law, the change of name of the applicant cannot be processed till the final verdict is pronounced, she said that it restricts her right to adopt her maiden surname during the pendency of the divorce proceedings, imposes differential treatment without a reasonable basis, violating the fundamental right to equality before the law and equal protection of laws as guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.

The petitioner has further said that the notification displays evident gender bias and constitutes a form of impermissible discrimination by imposing additional and disproportionate requisites “exclusively on women”.

“This differential treatment, solely based on gender, contravenes the constitutional guarantee of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. By subjecting women to more burdensome conditions compared to men seeking a change in name, the notification unjustly discriminates against them, thereby violating their constitutional rights,” Tongya has said.

She has argued that the arbitrary classification introduced by the notification, based solely on marital status, lacks an intelligible differential, and fails to establish a rational basis for distinction among individuals seeking a name change, infringing upon their inherent right to freely choose their name. It has been contended that the impugned notification also unreasonably curtails the freedom of expression and personal identity, particularly of women, and violates the right to privacy.

“The impugned notification also contravenes various international human rights norms and conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she argued.

The bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan Singh and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora has issued notice to the Centre and listed the matter for hearing next on May 28. The petitioner was represented by Ruby Singh Ahuja, Senior Partner, Vishal Gehrana, Hancy Maini, Devang Kumar, and Uzma Sheikh of Karanjawala & Co.

–Ajit Weekly News

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