As parents war over child's name, Kerala HC steps in with solution
The child in question had no name on her birth certificate. As she was all set to begin her education, the school authorities insisted on a name for her
The Kerala High Court invoked its parens patriae jurisdiction to select the name of a child, caught in a dispute between her warring parents over her name.
The bench took the position that attempting to resolve the dispute between the parents will take time and in the meanwhile, the absence of a name would not be conducive to the welfare or the best interests of the child.
Parens patriae is Latin for 'parent of the nation' and when used in law, refers to the public policy power of the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian, or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child, individual or animal who is in need of protection.
"In the exercise of such a jurisdiction, the paramount consideration being the welfare of the child and not the rights of the parents, the court has to perform the task of selecting a name for the child. While choosing a name, factors like the welfare of the child, cultural considerations, interests of parents and societal norms can be reckoned by the court. The ultimate objective being the well-being of the child, the court has to adopt a name, taking into consideration the overall circumstances. Thus, this court is compelled to exercise its parens patriae jurisdiction to select a name for the child of the petitioner," it said.
The child in question had no name on her birth certificate. As she was all set to begin her education, the school authorities insisted on a name for her, and refused to accept the birth certificate which carried no name. Then started the trouble when the petitioner mother attempted to register a name for the child — namely, 'Punya Nair', but the registrar insisted on the presence of both parents to register the name.
The estranged parents failed to arrive at a consensus on the issue, as the father wanted to name the child 'Padma Nair'.
The court, after looking into all the aspects, pointed out that the name suggested by the mother, with whom the child was residing at present, had to be given due importance, but added that the name of the father also had to be incorporated since the paternity was also undisputed.
Based on this, it arrived at the name of 'Punya Balagangadharan Nair' or 'Punya B. Nair' for the child and ruled: "In order to set at rest the disputes between the parties on the name, the child is directed to be given the name 'Punya', and the name of the father 'Balagangadharan' also be added along with the name Nair. Thus, the daughter of the petitioner, born on 12-02-2020 in the wedlock with the fourth respondent, is hereby given the name 'Punya Balagangadharan Nair' or 'Punya B. Nair'," the court ruled and asked all the necessary formalities be done.