Chennai: Empowering single mothers in India, the Madras High Court, last week, has ruled that mentioning father’s name in birth certificates is optional. This judgement comes as a relief to single mothers and those going for intrauterine insemination as it is not obligatory for them to disclose the name of the father.
This judgement came after a divorcee Ms Mathumitha Ramesh filed a writ petition in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court against Tiruchi Municipal Corporation (TMC), reported The Hindu.
She had reportedly, given birth to a child in a hospital in Tiruchi through intrauterine insemination in April 2017. However, in her petition, she has mentioned that the TMC had issued a birth certificate with the name of the sperm donor as the father. Furthermore, when she requested the TMC to remove the donor’s name, it refused her request and stated that according to law, father’s name could not be removed from the birth certificate.
No need to disclose father’s name
However, Justice M.S Ramesh, at the hearing said that women who bring up children with their income should not be compelled to reveal the name of the father. Moreover, The News Minute reported him as stating that neither the Births and Deaths Act of 1969 nor the Tamil Nadu Registration of Births and Deaths Rules of 2000 requires the father’s name to be recorded in the birth register.
According to The Hindu, the petitioner’s counsel, Shabnam Banu, while contesting this rejection in court, invoked Section 15 of the Births and Deaths Act and said that it empowers officials to correct erroneous entries, if any, in birth and death certificates. Hence, according to this section, the wrongful entry of the sperm donor’s name as the father should have been removed immediately.
After this, the judge passed an interim order directing the TMC to treat the entry of the sperm donor’s name as an error and hence, delete it. In his final order, the judge recorded the civic body’s submission that a new birth certificate with the correct information has been issued to the mother. He also talked about the need to protect the donor’s identity as it could potentially lead to prejudice.
The judge said, “As such, the grievance of the petitioner has been met. Hence, no further orders are required in the present writ petition. However, a related issue that arises for consideration is with respect to the authority of the officials to insist upon the petitioner to declare the identity of the father of the child in the birth certificate.”