The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed that the name of the biological father of a girl child should not be shown on her birth certificate while hearing a petition filed by a 22-year-old single unwed mother from the city. The woman, who had said she was unmarried, had sought various kinds of relief through her petition, including deleting the father’s name in the birth certificate. Pointing out that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had limited power to correct the register of birth, the court said that while it cannot direct the name of the biological father to be deleted from the entire records, “however, the name can be masked, or be kept blank in the birth certificate issued by the Corporation,” said Justice A S Oka.
It also directed the BMC to recall any birth certificates of the child that might have already been issued with her father’s name on it. It said that in the future such space on the child’s certificate must always be kept blank. The procedure for issuance of birth certificate includes filling up the legal part of a form which includes the name of the mother and the father and the name of the informant which are the parents. The form also includes other details of marital status and education. The informant in this case was the petitioner. This form constitutes the register of birth. The woman, however, through her petition had contended that she had not disclosed the name of the person who was named as her child’s father. She said while she had signed it, the information relating to the father’s name were filled up by someone else.
The court, however, said it cannot order changes in the entry made. “The issue of the form being filled up by someone else will have to be decided by a civil court. The issue whether she was not married to the man who was named as a biological father cannot be gone into by us,” said the court.
According to the plea, the woman gave birth to the child in November 2013. The BMC said that at the time of the birth of the child, the petitioner had willingly disclosed the name and occupation of the biological father. Since a mere change of mind on the same did not amount to an erroneous entry in the child’s birth records, the petitioner could not be permitted to delete or amend it. The biological father had also told the court that he had no objection to his name being removed from the birth certificate and the records.
Pointing to how two forms relating to the legal part had been filled up, which was contrary to procedure, the court further directed the BMC commissioner to appoint a senior official to hold an enquiry into this matter. “The legal part of the form has the signature of the petitioner as informant while one of the two has her thumb impression….. The commissioner shall direct that a report in this regard be submitted within two months. If certain procedural lapses were there then the commissioner shall issue directions to ensure that the procedure is scrupulously followed,” said Justice Oka.