Bombay HC allows daughter to claim caste of mother as she 'single-handedly' raised her

As per Khandekar, her mother and the father got married in April 1993 but soon after the marriage, discord struck the couple as a result of which, the couple could never reconcile their differences.

Narsi BenwalUpdated: Friday, March 25, 2022, 09:49 PM IST
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In an inter-caste marriage, a child being taken care of by the mother, single-handedly, can claim the caste of the mother, ruled the Bombay High Court recently.

A bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Govind Sanap was hearing a plea filed by one Kasturi Khandekar, seeking permission to claim the caste of her mother and not of her father.

As per Khandekar, her mother and the father got married in April 1993 but soon after the marriage, discord struck the couple as a result of which, the couple could never reconcile their differences.

"The petitioner (Khandekar) having been born in August 2002 was hardly seven years of age at that time and was thereafter, raised by her mother as a single parent," the bench noted, adding, "Even before the divorce, the record shows that Khandekar was looked after and taken care of in all respect by her mother."

The bench further noted that the Vigilance Enquiry Officer, on making a detailed enquiry, found that her father never cared for his two children and never related to them in any manner nor did he take his children to any of his paternal relatives.

"The Vigilance Officer has found that the children or the two siblings including Khandekar do not recognize any of the paternal relatives. Even while admitting her to the first standard in school, her mother showed her (Khandekar) as belonging to Mahar caste (caste of mother)," the bench noted.

The judges further took into account the fact that her maternal grandfather and uncles followed the customs and traditions of the Mahar caste.

"Thus, the evidence shows that for all purposes she has grown and has been reared in an atmosphere and with customs, traditions and practices that prevail in a household inhabited by Mahar caste persons, which is the caste of Khandekar's mother from the maternal side. This evidence would certainly entitle her to stake a claim as belonging to Mahar caste," the judges said.

The bench wondered why despite apt material on record, the scrutiny committee insisted the girl to claim the caste of her father instead of the mother.

"We have already held that Khandekar is entitled to claim the same social status as her mother, she having been almost entirely brought up by her mother," the bench highlighted in its order.

"Such peculiar background of Khandekar would show that she was also subject to same disadvantages, same neglect and backwardness as her mother faced and therefore, she can rightfully take the caste of her mother and not her father," the bench held further.

Accordingly, the judges quashed the orders of the scrutiny committee which insisted the girl to claim the caste of her father and not mother.

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