Guardianship Rights of Unwed Mothers: Supreme Court’s Decision


Guardianship Rights of Unwed Mothers: The State (NCT of Delhi). AIR 2015 SC 2569: 2015 (7) SCALE 483: 2015 (152) AIC 177: JT 2015 (6) SC 103


The Supreme Court of India landmark judgment in the case of BAC vs. The State (NCT of Delhi). Which affirmed the guardianship rights of unwed mothers. The case addressed the question of whether unwed mothers need the father’s consent in matters of guardianship & highlighted the rights of single parents. Particularly unwed mothers, in asserting their parental authority and securing their children’s welfare.

Hon’ble Judges: Vikramajit Sen and Abhay Manohar Sapre, JJ.

Facts: Appellant gave birth to son and raised him without any assistance of his putative father. Appellant was well educated, gainfully employed and financially secure. She filed application under section 7 of G&W Act before Court for declaring her the sole guardian of her son. She was desirous of making her son as nominee in all her savings and was informed to either declare name of his father or get guardianship/adoption Certificate from court. Appellant published notice under section 11 of Act of Petition in daily newspaper but was strongly averse to name the father. She filed an affidavit stating that if at any time in the future the father of her son raises any objections regarding his guardianship, the same may be revoked or altered as the situation may require.

Issue: Whether guardianship of child by unwed mother needs consent of father?

The court held that: if a single parent or unwed mother applies for a birth certificate for a child she bore, authorities should only ask for an affidavit from her. They must then issue the birth certificate, unless directed otherwise by the court. The Supreme Court stressed that the state is responsible for ensuring that no citizen faces inconvenience or disadvantage due to parents failing to register a birth. It is the state’s duty to record every citizen’s birth by taking necessary steps.

Guardianship Rights of Unwed Mothers Case Background:

The appellant, an unwed mother, raised her son without assistance from the putative father. Despite her education, employment, and financial stability, she encountered challenges in securing sole guardianship. She applied under Section 7 of the Guardians and Wards Act to secure legal recognition of her parental authority. However, she faced resistance when authorities insisted on either naming the father or obtaining a guardianship/adoption certificate from the court.

Court’s Ruling in respect of Guardianship Rights:

The Supreme Court’s judgment unequivocally affirmed the rights of unwed mothers in matters of guardianship. It held that if a single parent, particularly an unwed mother, applied for the issuance of a birth certificate for a child born from her womb, the authorities concerned must only require her to furnish an affidavit to this effect. The court stressed that the State must prevent any citizen from suffering due to parents’ failure to register a birth. Furthermore, the court emphasized the state’s responsibility to record every citizen’s birth.


This judgment has far-reaching implications for unwed mothers across India. It affirms their inherent right to act as guardians of their children without the necessity of obtaining consent from the father. By streamlining the process for obtaining birth certificates and recognizing the autonomy of unwed mothers, the court has provided a significant legal safeguard for single-parent families. Moreover, the judgment reinforces the principle of gender equality in parental rights, ensuring that unwed mothers are not discriminated against based on their marital status.

Legal Framework:

The judgment in the BAC case builds upon existing legal principles enshrined in various statutes and precedents. The Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, which governs matters related to guardianship. Does not prescribe any specific requirement for unwed mothers to obtain consent from the father. Additionally, the judgment aligns with the principles of the Constitution of India. Which guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender or marital status.

In conclusion :

The Supreme Court’s decision in the BAC case marks a significant step towards protecting the rights of unwed mothers in India. By affirming their authority as guardians without the need for paternal consent, the court has upheld the principles of equality and autonomy. This ruling empowers unwed mothers and fosters a more inclusive and equitable family law framework in India. As legal practitioners, advocating for the rights of all, including unwed mothers, is imperative.

In summary of Guardianship Rights of Unwed Mothers :

The BAC case serves as a beacon of progress in the realm of family law. Reaffirming that parental rights should prioritize the child’s best interests, regardless of parental marital status.

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