'Religion imposed on child': Father files appeal after Kerala HC names boy in dispute

Settling a dispute between the child's separated parents, Kerala High Court had given a name to the 5-year-old.
'Religion imposed on child': Father files appeal after Kerala HC names boy in dispute
'Religion imposed on child': Father files appeal after Kerala HC names boy in dispute
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Weeks after the Kerala High Court gave a name to a 5-year-old boy from the state in order to settle a legal dispute between the boy's separated parents, the father has appealed against the court's decision. 

The boy's father, a Hindu, has now appealed to the court against its single bench order assigning the name Johan Sachin to the 5-year-old. In his appeal, the boy's father has stated that the boy was already given the name Abhinav Sachin and that the court has now imposed a name and thereby a religion on the child. 

Speaking to The Times of India, the boy's father's lawyer Manjeri Sunderraj said: 

"The child already has an accepted name. What the court has done now is to change the name. Namakaranam (Hindu ceremony for naming a child) was already over. The child is a Hindu as it is the father's religion that is considered. That is the reason why an appeal is being preferred."

According to lawyers TNM spoke to, the father is assumed to be the natural guardian, by law, unless the mother belongs to the SC/ST community.

Manjeri Sunderraj argued that the child has an identity that was already established and that the court has now altered it. 

"The child has an identity as per principles of human rights and child rights. That identity has already been established. By whatever name the child is known, that is the identity. There's a caste aspect also involved. He's a Pillai and the mother is a Christian. Not only a name but also a religion is imposed on the child. Because name also points at one's religion. That should not be allowed as it's the child's identity. The name 'Abhinav' is a secular name," the lawyer allegedly claimed. 

While the boy's father argued that the name 'Abhinav Sachin' was agreed upon at the time of 28th-day ceremony, the mother cited the baptism certificate to argue that the name in the certificate is Johan Mani Sachin. 

Sachin, the boy’s father, is Hindu, while the mother is a Christian. The couple got married as per Christian rites on August 29, 2010, and a ceremony was conducted in accordance with the Hindu rites the following day. After the birth of their second child, the couple grew apart and filed for divorce. The mother has custody of the child while the father gets occasional custody as directed by the family court. Subsequently, when they approached the municipality for a birth certificate for the child, the administration refused to issue one, citing that the parents couldn't arrive at one name. The boy is now of school-going age, and a birth certificate is necessary to enroll him in school. 

After hearing both sides, the single bench of the HC assigned the child the name Johan Sachin, Sachin being the father's name. 

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