By meghna at 7 December, 2009, 11:05 pm
A child has both spiritual, social, religious and now legal responsibility to maintain his old parents, but society has its own rules to distinguish children on basis of legitimacy and illegitimacy. Perhaps this was done to maintain a social order.
The fear of rejection by the society checked the people from committing moral and legal wrongs of such kind. Crimes of adultery can be easily checked by such harsh attitudes towards the children from such relations. But unfortunately this may harm the interest of an illegitimate child. He may be deprieved of the love and affection he deserves from the society. Often his plight is that he is a victim of the faults of his parents. A child who has no clue about law and societal norms is punished by both.
An illegitimate child is one who is born to a woman and a man who are not married to one another. Thus illegitimate child would include children of extra-marital affairs, live-in relationships, rape etc.
The children of void and voidable marriage have been conferred the status of legitimacy under the Hindu Marriage but those from no marriage or marriage without essential ceremonies are not mentioned. It does not recognize illegitimate relationship with the father. Moreover he cannot acquire any right by birth in the joint family property even by virtue of S.16 of Hindu Marriage Act. He becomes coparcener with the other legitimate sons after father’s death. No school of Muslim Law recognises any right of inheritance in the property of his putative father.
As far as family law goes, the relationship of mother and illegitimate child are recognized but that with the father are still in question. These children can aquire property from their mother and modern judicial legislation has established that their guardianship vests in their mother.
The law may be said to be biased here. Under the Section 125 of the CRPC, a person has to maintain is legitimate or illegitimate minor child, whether married or not, unable to maintain itself or his legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained majority, where such child is, by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury unable to maintain itself.
The law of maintaince can be said to have a balanced approach but unfortunately many state amendments like Madhya Pradesh and Tripura have decided the maintainance upto Rs 500 which in present times may not fullfill all the medical and educational needs of such children.
I’m most concerned about the issue of children born out of rape. They are a neglected identity. They are the most unwanted chidren a woman would like to have. Should the woman be given the guardianship? or should the criminal father be held responsible for the upbring of the child? What about that of live-in relationships? The children are outcome of love, then why is it necessary to have a legal marriage to identify their status? What about minor children who have no knowledge of their paternity? Why do we still need to write the name of our father when we enroll in any institution? Why can’t we make our own identies? If a marriage lacks essential ceremonies it is no marriage. So if a girl is decieved by a person in name of ceremonies and she begets a child out of such illegal relationship. Her gullible nature won’t matter to law while deciding the legitimacy of the innocent child.
The culprit will have no responsibilty towards the child except giving Rs.500 per month. The societal norms were probably framed to protect society from immorality. The fear of illegitimacy avoided live-in relationships and adultery in the society but this justice has resulted in another injustice. The victims being innocent child.
Honestly I’m confused how to conclude because I don’t know if the rights of illegitimate child are protected as that of illegitimate child will their be injustice to those who are legitimate? Won’t it be convinient for people who are not getting divorse to live with each other and have legal kids. But then I feel that no one chooses to be legitimate or illegitimate it is a status conferred upon them by the society. But I would reserve my comments for future.