Single/Unwed Mother Can’t be Compelled to Disclose Father’s Name for Birth Certificate


July 17, 2018

Case name: Mathumitha Ramesh v. The Chief Health Officer & Ors.

In this recent case, the High Court of Madras has expounded on the issue whether concerned authorities can compel single or unwed mothers to disclose father’s name for the purpose of birth certificate of the concerned child.

In the case, the Petitioner gave birth to a child through an intrauterine fertility treatment and the insemination was done with the help of a semen donor.

Pursuant to birth of the child, the Petitioner approached the Respondent authority for issuance of birth certificate wherein Mr.Manish Madanpal Meena was shown as father of the child. However, the said person was neither the father of the child nor Petitioner’s husband but he only happened to extend some help to the petitioner in the hospital. Subsequently, the Petitioner sought for rectification of birth certificate by having the name of Mr.Manish Madanpal Meena removed. However, the petitioner’s request was rejected on the ground that the mistakes and errors in the father’s name could only be rectified and not removed.

The Petitioner has challenged the aforesaid rejection of the respondent authority.

  • The High Court in the case made a ruling in favour of the Petitioner on the basis of following observations in the case:
  • With respect to the authority, who is competent to carry out the rectifications of the errors in the birth certificates, the Court made reference to the provisions of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 and the Tamil Nadu Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 2000.
  • The Court observed that the cursory reading of the provisions clearly indicates that it is the Registrar of Birth and deaths, who is the competent authority, for carrying out the errors in the birth certificate.
  • That Section 15 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, r/w Rule 11 of the Tamil Nadu Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 2000, clearly indicates that the Registrar is well within his powers to carry out any errors that may have crept in the birth certificates.
  • The High Court while noting the facts of the present case, observed that Mr. Manish Madanpal Meena had been wrongly included in the birth certificate as the child’s father. The affidavit of Mr.Manish Madanpal Meena, evidences that he is no way related to the petitioner and that the petitioner was only an acquaintance who had helped her on humanitarian ground in the hospital, during the time of her delivery. The High Court accordingly concluded that the name of Mr.Manish Madanpal Meena, was wrongly incorporated in the birth certificate and hence his name requires to be deleted.
  • The Necessity to Declare Identity of Father in Birth Certificate– In this context, the Court noted that neither the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 nor the Tamil Nadu Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 2000 stipulate that the name of the father of the child should be recorded in the register as prescribed under Section 16 of the Act. However the prescribed form for issuance of Birth Certificate, carries a column for the name of the father of the child.
  • With reference to the facts of the present case, the Court noted that in such a case name of father of the child cannot be disclosed, since the same is from a semen donor. The confidentiality of the donor requires to be protected and there could be a possibility of serious prejudice being caused to the said donor, if his identity is disclosed.
  • In view of the aforesaid, the Court noted that the authorities cannot insist for the name of the father when the details of the birth is registered in their books. At the most, the authorities concerned can require the mother to establish that the child was born from her womb.
  • The High Court while arriving at its judgment also made reference to Supreme Court’s verdict in the case of ABC Vs. The State (NCT of Delhi)[1], wherein the Apex Court held that if a single parent/unwed mother applies for the issuance of a Birth Certificate for a child born from her womb, the Authorities concerned may only require her to furnish an affidavit to this effect, and must thereupon issue the Birth Certificate, unless there is a Court direction to the contrary.

In view of the aforesaid, the High Court held in the instant case that the authorities cannot insist for disclosure of the name of the father of the child.

 

[1] AIR 2015 SC 2569

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- Shilpi Sharan is the Editor at Vakilno1.com - an Advocate with extensive knowledge in myriad fields of Law. She has a flair of writing and has legal publications in national and international law magazines to her credit. She focuses on legal research and aims at raising public awareness of laws in India.