Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nam ke vaste ruling - Using ex-husband's last name illegal

An court in India ruled divorced woman not to use her husband's name any more (link). Indian men claim a little victory, given most Indian laws today only deliver bad news for them. I think it is unfortunate, since such broad brush ruling limits freedoms for both sexes, and winning in gender battles isn't something to feel proud about.

In this particular case, the woman's ex-husband was a cop, and there were two problems: 1) she allegedly used his name to get some favors, and 2) she filled his name in applications (such as opening Bank account) where it asked for husband's name. As far as 2) goes, Bank application and other forms insisting on husband or father's name have no real business need for that information - since a PAN card provides enough identity for the individual these days, and is mandatory anyways. Courts and people should question their collecting and insisting on such data, rather than believing they can be "misled" due to supplying a name. In the case of 1), it should have been treated as a specific cheating case like many other inappropriate name use situations - I am not convinced a blanket ban was required to cover every divorced woman. That would have left a lot of women peacefully using their ex-husband's name alone for social status, among other things.

In the US, you can use any name you want, as long as it is not a number (you can't call yourself as 123), and as long as it does not intentionally malign a celebrity name (like calling yourself Obama to intentionally do bad things). The rules really need to be as simple as that to cover a billion people, and to protect their freedom.

Now, this divorce case has been going on since 1996. but that's for another day!