In a judgment that would be celebrated by single mothers and those going in for intrauterine insemination, the Madras High Court has ruled that there is no legal obligation on the part of a mother to disclose the name of the father at the time of registering her child’s birth.
The court said it was sufficient for her to file a sworn affidavit that the child was born from her womb. Justice M.S. Ramesh held that even women who had been deserted by their husbands could obtain birth certificates for their children without mentioning the name of their father.
The judge said that women who bring up children with their own income source could not be compelled to name the deserters in birth certificates. He pointed out that neither the Births and Deaths Act of 1969, a Central enactment, nor the Tamil Nadu Registration of Births and Deaths Rules of 2000, framed by the State government by exercising powers conferred on it under the Act, requires the father’s name to be recorded in the birth register maintained by local bodies.
Correcting the error
The judgment was passed on a writ petition filed by a divorcee, who had given birth to a baby girl at a hospital in Tiruchi, through intrauterine insemination.
However, the Tiruchi Municipal Corporation issued a birth certificate on August 9, 2017, naming the donor as the child’s father. The petitioner’s request to issue the certificate without mentioning the father’s name was rejected on the premise that the law does not provide for removing it from birth certificates.
Challenging the rejection before the Madurai Bench of the High Court, the petitioner’s counsel Shabnam Banu contended that Section 15 of the Births and Deaths Act empowers the officials to correct errors, if any, in birth and death certificates. Hence, the erroneous entry of semen donor’s name as the child’s father should be corrected immediately, she argued. The judge passed an interim order directing the Tiruchi Corporation to treat the entry of the semen donor’s name as an error and delete it forthwith.
Further, he stated the need to protect the donor’s confidentiality as disclosing his identity could lead to serious prejudice . In the final order , he recorded the civic body’s submission that a new birth certificate had been issued without the father’s name.
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