Madras HC Reiterates: Father’s Name Not Compulsory on Birth Certificates
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has reiterated that single mothers are not legally obligated to include a father’s name when applying for their child’s birth certificate, reports Live Law.
“It would be totally unjustifiable to insist such single or unwed mothers to compel them [sic] to declare the name of the father of the child who has chosen to abandon the child,” said Justice M.S. Ramesh.
The ruling was passed following a petition filed by a woman, who had conceived via IVF and a sperm donor. Officials listed the donor as her child’s father on the issued birth certificate. When the mother requested officials to remove the father’s name, the Chief Health Officer of Trichy Municipal Corporation informed her that corrections, but not deletions, could be made to birth certificates, and that a father’s name was mandatory and could not be removed.
The Court stated that there is no law requiring the father’s name be filled on a birth certificate. Furthermore, in cases of women conceiving with the help of donor sperm, such as the petitioner, the father’s name cannot be disclosed, as it violates the confidentiality of donation; it is enough that the mother submits an affidavit that states she gave birth to the child, added the Court.
“…neither the Act nor the Rule mandates the disclosure of the identity of the father of the child. As such, the authorities concerned 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, for which purpose, a duly sworn in affidavit of the mother would suffice,” the Court ruled.
It’s been a good week for single mothers, following this ruling and the recent request to drop the father’s name requirement from the PAN card application forms, for children of single mothers. And it’s heartening to see India start to embrace and support non-traditional family structures, especially those headed by women, who are often shamed for their circumstances or choices. One hopes the ruling here will apply to any single parent, regardless of gender — and that the pending surrogacy bill will expand to allow single men or male couples to become parents, also.