Spate of requests to alter name of child’s father in birth records

The Chennai Corporation has no power to change the name of the father after the entry is made in birth records, say civic officials.

The Chennai Corporation has no power to change the name of the father after the entry is made in birth records, say civic officials.  

Corporation rejects applications citing lack of directions from High Court

The Greater Chennai Corporation has received several requests for change in the name of the child’s father in birth certificates. But the civic body has refused to accept the requests, citing lack of proper directions from the Madras High Court.

Several challenges faced by the women have led to a sudden a rise in the number of such requests to the Corporation, say civic officials. “We are receiving many applications for change in the name of the father in birth certificates. We have rejected all applications. The Corporation cannot change the father’s name in the birth records. The Madras High Court has also been rejecting the pleas of mothers who want to change the names of their children’s father,” said an official.

Women who have remarried after the death of their husband have been requesting the civic body to include the husband’s name in the birth certificate of their babies. Women who have remarried after separation have also demanded that the Corporation include their husband’s name in the birth certificate of the baby, in the place of the biological father.

The rush for such certificates has been intense in the past few months, officials said.

‘Try and help’

“Some people think that it is unethical to change the father’s name in the birth certificate of a child. But the Corporation should study all legal aspects of the issue. Instead of rejecting the applications, the Corporation should try to help such women. Civic officials should understand the challenges faced by the women and the peculiar problems associated with such applications,” said Egmore MLA K.S. Ravichandran.

Officials said other States have reported some developments on such issues. For instance, the Bombay High Court recently allowed the plea of a woman who wanted the name of her daughter’s biological father removed from her birth certificate. The court directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to issue a birth certificate, removing the name of the father and to leave the space for the name of the biological father blank. The bench, however, rejected the woman’s prayer that the father’s name be removed from all records of the local body.

According to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, the father or the mother is permitted to give the names of both parents and their addresses at the time of birth of a child.

Over 700 hospitals in the city have been permitted by the Corporation to log in and help parents get birth certificates in a day. The parents give a declaration, based on which the Corporation issues a birth certificate for the baby. The Registrar of Births will verify if the birth is “real”, before issuing the certificate. The Corporation has no power to change the name of the father after the entry is made in the birth records, said an official.

The Directorate of Public Health has clarified that the Greater Chennai Corporation cannot change the name of the baby’s father without an order of the High Court, officials added.

Before giving directions, the court has to rely on the 2015 judgment of the Supreme Court that states that the Registrar of Births cannot compel single mothers to disclose the name of their baby’s biological father for issuance of birth certificates.

Ekta Foundation for Women founder-director Bimla Chandrasekar said: “We should encourage and strengthen women to speak out. We should also encourage them to move on.” She also pointed out there was a difference between biological father and social father and the biological father cannot be changed.

Child’s rights

Noted advocate and activist with the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), D. Nagasaila, contended that the birth certificate had nothing to do with the relationship between the father and the mother.

“The birth certificate is the primary proof needed to claim maintenance or for property for the child,” she pointed out.

Ms. Nagasaila added: “The mother might not want to have any connection with the man, but it is a matter of the right of the child to know his/her father. One cannot change the facts.”

Though A. Arulmozhi, propaganda secretary of the Dravidar Kazhagam, accepted that the facts of the birth certificate cannot be altered, she advocated that there should be a change in the social psyche, especially in India, in this regard.

“In India, most forms for applications ask for the father’s name. For instance, for a passport for a child living with the mother, it is necessary to either get a consent letter from the father or a court order. This should change,” she contended.

Even as the Tamil Nadu government has made provisions to include names of the father and the mother, all State governments in the country should implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, she said.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 12:17:41 PM |

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