In yet another remarkable judgement, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court (HC) ruled out the requirement of mentioning the father’s name on birth certificates, for single mothers. The bench said that there was no requirement for single mothers to disclose the name of the child’s father while registering for the child’s birth certificate and the same should be treated as optional.

This judgement comes after a divorcee, who gave birth to a baby girl through intrauterine insemination, had filed a petition in the Madras HC against the Tiruchi Municipal Corporation (TMC).The petition had been filed after the TMC had denied issuing a fresh birth certificate after having issued one, with the name of the sperm donor as the father, citing the law in the country that does not allow for the removal of the father’s name from the same.

While examining the case of correcting errors in the birth certificate, under Section 15 of the Registration of the Births and Deaths Act 1969, and Rule 11 of the Tamil Nadu Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 2000, it was noted that neither the Act, nor the Rule mandated the disclosure of the name of the father to be mentioned in the birth certificate.

Further, the judge stated that there is need for the protection of the name of the sperm donor since the child was conceived through the process of intrauterine insemination and disclosing the identity of the donor could lead to prejudice in the society. Thereby, Justice M S Ramesh, passed an interim order directing the TMC to correct the error in the birth certificate that gives out the name of the sperm donor as the father of the child.

It is duly noted and and agreed upon by the Madurai bench, that the authorities cannot insist on disclosure of the father’s name on birth certificates.‘It is sufficient for a mother to file a sworn affidavit that the child was born from her womb’, rules the Madras HC and allowed the column for mentioning the name of the father to be kept blank.

The judgement further notes, ‘there are also cases where women are constrained to raise children with their own sources in view of their unwilling and unconcerned partners. It would be totally unjustifiable to compel single or unwed mothers to declare the name of the father of the child who had chosen to abandon the child. As mentioned earlier, neither the Act nor the Rule mandates the disclosure of the of the father of the child. As such 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 can require the mother to establish that the child was born from her womb,,..’