The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging a notification that requires a woman to submit a divorce decree or a no objection certificate from her husband to obtain her maiden name, Live Law reported.

The plea filed by a woman contends that she wants to use her maiden name as she is in the process of divorcing her husband. However, she is unable to change her surname until the verdict in her divorce case is out due to an undated notification by the Department of Publication under the Union housing and urban affairs ministry.

The petitioner had taken her husband’s surname in September 2014. In 2019, she was able to change it in 2019 to include her husband’s surname as well as her maiden name, The Print reported.

The petitioner contended that the Centre’s notification is “patently discriminatory, arbitrary, unreasonable”. She also said that the notification violates fundamental right of equality before the law, right to freedoms, including the freedom of speech and expression, and the right to life and personal liberty.

“The imposition introduces unnecessary barriers for individuals exercising their constitutional right to choose their name,” the plea said, according to Live Law. “Specifically, the requirement for divorce-related documentation or an NOC [no objection certificate] from the husband creates arbitrary obstacles, unnecessarily affecting divorced women.”

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora issued a notice to the Centre and listed the matter for May 28.

Also read: When a woman in India chooses not to take her husband’s surname