The Bombay high court on Wednesday ruled the state cannot insist on mentioning the name of a child’s biological father on his or her birth certificate.
A bench of justice V M Kanade and justice MS Karnik observed that the state and municipal authorities must be “reasonable” and take a “pragmatic” stand on a case-to-case basis instead of being persistent about mentioning the names of one’s biological parents in birth certificates and such documents.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by a former bar dancer seeking her five-year-old daughter be allowed to mention the name of her step father instead of her biological father on her birth certificate.
According to the woman’s plea, in 2010, she had an affair with a city-based businessman and the two had a daughter out of wedlock. The man, who was already married at the time, refused to leave his wife and marry the petitioner. Thus, she decided to bring up the child as a single mother. At the time the child was born, the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) issued her a birth certificate mentioning the petitioner’s and her biological father’s name as her parents.
However, subsequently, the petitioner met another man and married him. Her husband also accepted the petitioner’s daughter into the family.
The petitioner thus, approached the MBMC seeking that her daughter’s birth certificate be amended or that the corporation issue a new birth certificate with the child’s step father’s name on it. She also submitted that the couple had made a similar request to the regional passport authority concerned and as a result, the child’s passport had her step father’s name .
However, the MBMC rejected her request saying there was no statutory law that permitted any one not to mention the name of one’s biological parents on one’s birth certificate.
She then approached the high court saying the MBMC’s refusal was resulting in a discrepancy in her daughter’s certificates and school records as her passport and her birth certificate bore different details when it came to her father’s name.
In her plea filed through her counsel advocate Viraj Maniar, the woman argued before the high court that such discrepancy will “cause trauma and social stigma” to her daughter.
The bench thus rapped the MBMC and directed it to issue a new birth certificate to the petitioner’s daughter. It also directed the corporation and the state to inform the court of all statutory requisites to issue birth certificates, making changes in such records etc. saying the court will formulate guidelines to deal with such cases in the future.
The MBMC has now sought two weeks’ time from the high court for the same.