top of page

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 in adoption: The Supreme Court

Law Centrum

29 Jul 2022

The Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna has Set aside the order passed by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh granting a relief not found on the prayer or pleadings. The Supreme Court held that “If a Court considers or grants a relief for which no prayer or pleading was made depriving the respondent of an opportunity to oppose or resist such relief, it would lead to miscarriage of justice”.

The respondent's son Konda Balaji and the appellant were married, and a child was born out of wedlock. But the appellant's husband passed away when the child was just 12 months old. Thereafter, the Appellant married Sri Akella Ravi Narasimha Sarma and they live together. Master Ahlad Achintya, who is currently 16 years and 4 months old, is still a minor.

The child's given surname is the point of contention in this case between the mother and the grandparents of the child's deceased father. The High Court was brought to the notice that the child's surname name had been altered from Konda to Akella (surname of biological father has been changed to adopted father).

The high court passed the judgment designating the appellant Akella Lalitha the mother of the child as the natural guardian, while the grandparents were permitted to see the child in the residence of the Appellant, with prior intimation. The court further ordered the appellant to complete the formalities within three months to restore the child's biological father's surname while Ravi Narasimha Sarma's name should be mentioned as the child's stepfather.

The appellant challenges this High Court decision on two main grounds: (1) Whether the mother, who is the child's only natural or legal guardian following the death of the biological father, has the authority to choose the child's surname name. Can she give her second husband's surname to the child and give her spouse the child for adoption? (2) Does the High Court have the authority to order the appellant to change the child's surname name, particularly in light of the fact that the respondents had never sought for this relief in their petition to the trial court?

Setting aside the High court direction, the supreme court stated 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 in 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 centered on the premise that child’s interest is the primary consideration and it outweighs all other considerations”.

The court applied the law laid down by Githa Hariharan and Ors. vs. Reserve Bank of India and Ors. in MANU/SC/0117/1999, Messrs. Trojan & Co. Ltd. Vs. Rm.N.N. Nagappa Chettiar in AIR 1953 SC 235, and Bharat Amratlal Kothari & Anr. Vs. Dosukhan Samadkhan Sindhi & Ors. in AIR 2010 SC 475 in this regard.

Case Title: Mrs. Akella Lalitha Versus Sri Konda Hanumantha Rao & Anr

Citation: CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 6325-6326 OF 2015

Download and Read Judgment

Download PDF • 78KB

bottom of page