Born, hence legal
Supreme Court’s landmark judgment, ruling that children born within a live-in relationship are legitimate, will go great lengths in ensuring for wider socioeconomic equanimity for kids born out of wedlock. While the apex court has specified that the couple should have demonstrably ‘lived like husband and wife’ for a long period and had children as a result, it is still a watershed verdict that will considerably bolster the jurisprudential edifice in India and will allow children born to unmarried parents greater access and acceptance. The tag of illegitimacy has haunted such children long enough and has systematically ostracised them from the sociocultural mainstream, branding them as second class citizens and becoming the instrument of discrimination through ages. Illegitimate children have been denied a share in property and have been barred from acquiring the same social and cultural status, in educational and professional sectors, thereby becoming victims of a long-perpetuated prejudice premised on patrilineal succession, bloodline and the solemnity of the institution of marriage. With society in flux and the foundational institutions, say of marriage and religion, now on the wane, at least in urban swathes, new laws that adequately reflect the current socioeconomic makeup, must be framed and upheld. Hence, after giving a legal stamp on live-in relationships few months ago, the Supreme Court’s observation that children born of such non-marital but civil unions should get equal recognition is indeed commendable and timely. Not only does the new law take into account the systemic discrimination faced by both the women and children in such situations, it also addresses the changing attitude towards the institution of marriage itself.