In a landmark judgement, the Karnataka High Court has held while there may be illegitimate parents, there cannot be illegitimate children and law should, therefore, recognize the latter and confer them equal protection and rights. The judgement was passed by Justices BV Nagarathna and Hanchate Sanjeevkumar on a petition from a man seeking compassionate appointment as a dependent son following his father’s death, emphasising the need for the parliament to bring about uniformity in law with regard to legitimacy of children.
In one of the clauses of the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) circular, it was mentioned that the second wife or her children of employees are not eligible for compassionate grounds appointment if the marriage has taken place during the subsistence of first marriage. Directing the KPTCL to consider the petitioner's application for compassionate appointment in two months’ time, the bench observed, "We add that no child is born in this world without a father and a mother. A child has no role to play in his/her birth. Hence, law should recognise the fact that there may be illegitimate parents, but no illegitimate children. Therefore, it is for the Parliament to bring about uniformity in law vis-à-vis legitimacy of children. Thus, it is for the Parliament to determine in what way protection could be extended to children born outside a valid marriage.”
Further, the bench pointed out that where the appointment on compassionate basis is concerned, “Children born out of void and voidable marriages, under other personal laws where there is no provision for conferment of legitimacy, also have equal protection of the law.” During the ruling, the bench said it is “Necessary to protect rights of all such children in all religions, vis-a-vis compassionate appointment.