Title: Akella Lalita versus Sri Konda Hanumantha RaoCase No.: CA 6325-6326/2015
The Supreme Court recently ruled that a relief for which no pleading or prayer has been made, should not be granted.As per the Bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari:it is a fact that absolutely no relief was ever sought by them for the change of surname of the child to that of first husband/ son of respondents. It is settled law that relief not found on pleadings should not be granted. If a Court considers or grants a relief for which no prayer or pleading was made depriving the respondent of an opportunity to oppose or resist such relief, it would lead to miscarriage of justice.This observation was made by the court while setting aside an Andhra Pradesh High Court judgement directing a mother to change the surname of her child and to reflect the new husband’s name as a stepfather.In the appeal before the Supreme Court, the main issue raised was whether the High Court was empowered to direct the appellant to change the surname of her child even though the respondent had sought no such relief before the trial court.At the outset, the Apex Court noted that it is well settled that if no reliefs are sought in the pleadings then it cannot be granted and if a court considers or grants such a relief for which no pleading or prayer was made depriving the respondent of the opportunity to resist the same then it would lead to miscarriage of justice.As per the bench, the High Court traversed beyond the pleadings by directing the change of surname of the child and therefore it set aside the impugned order thereby partly allowing the appeal.The court also reiterated that the mother, being the natural guardian of the child, has the right to decide the child’s surname and she also has the right to give up the child for adoption.