The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has told the Bombay High Court that it has no powers to delete a birth or death-related entry from its records, while responding to a single mother’s plea seeking a birth certificate for her child without the father’s name.
The BMC’s birth registration department filed an affidavit in the court on Wednesday, stating that it did not have the authority to issue a birth certificate in the present case, without the name of the child’s biological father.
The BMC was responding to a previous direction of a bench of Justices A S Oka and R I Chagla, hearing the plea of a 31-year-old woman from Nallasopara town in neighbouring Palghar district.
In her plea, the woman claimed that she was unmarried and that she gave birth to a girl through the test tube method in August 2016.
She claimed that since the identity of the donor in her case was kept secret by the medical authorities, there was no way for her to have given the BMC the name of her child’s biological father.
However, the BMC’s counsel, Suresh Pakale, produced in court the girl’s birth certificate and the original records, including the hospital form giving information about the child.
As per the records, at the time of the child’s birth, the petitioner had given her full name and claimed that she was married to a businessman.
She had also given that man’s name as the child’s biological father in the hospital form, that was used as the basis for the child’s birth record.
The woman has disputed the authenticity of the form, while the BMC has submitted that the document bears the woman’s signature.
Pakale also told HC that once an entry is made in the corporation’s records, then its officials only have the power to amend it, if it is found to be “incorrect,” or “if the same has been recorded fraudulently”.
“Since neither is the case here and the petitioner herself gave us the information on her marital status and the name of the child’s biological father, we cannot delete it from our records and the birth certificate,” Pakale told HC.
The petitioner approached the high court last year, after the civic body refused her request to leave the space for the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate blank.
She urged the court to direct the corporation to remove the name of the child’s father from its records and to change her marital status to “unmarried”.
On March 14 this year, while hearing a similar case, the bench had directed the BMC to “mask” the name of the biological father of a child on her birth certificate.
The child’s mother, an unwed woman, had urged the court to permit her to leave the space for the father’s name on the certificate blank.