The Kerala High Court ruled in a landmark decision that every person has the right to have only his or her mother’s name appear on their birth certificate and other official papers. The State has a responsibility to safeguard all citizens, even those who may have been born out of wedlock or as a result of rape, and their right to privacy, dignity, and liberty is guaranteed, according to Justice PV Kunhikrishnan.
The Court discussed the struggles and hardships that children of unmarried mothers face and ruled thatthese kids should also be protected by the State, especially in light of the fact that Article 21 recognises the right to reproductive freedom as a fundamental freedom without which constitutional courts will intervene.
“A child of an unwed mother is also a citizen of our country, and nobody can infringe any of his/her fundamental rights, which are guaranteed in our Constitution. He/she is a son/daughter of not only the unwed mother but this great country “India.” We need to live in a country where there will be no example to cite for the word “bastard” and let that word continue in the dictionary pages without getting an opportunity to give examples to the young student generation of English. The children of unwed mothers and the children of raped victim can also live in this country with the fundamental rights of privacy, liberty, and dignity. None can intrude into their personal life, and if it happens, the constitutional Court of this country will protect their fundamental rights”.
Justice Kunhikrishanan used the story of Karna from the Mahabharatha to elaborate on the emotional anguish experienced by people who do not know who their parents are. Until his mother, Kunthi Devi, revealed the truth to him, Karna remained unaware of his parents.
The court’s ruling includes a statement from Mali Madhavan Nair’s Kathakali attakadha (story), Karnashapadham, which describes the mental anguish and disgrace suffered by Karna.
“We want a society with no such characters like “Karna,” who curses his life because of the insult he faced for not knowing the whereabouts of his parents. Our Constitution and the constitutional Courts will protect all of them and the new age “Karnas” can live like any other citizen with dignity and pride”.
A request to have the respondent Registrar of Births and Deaths remove the petitioner’s father’s name from the birth register and issue a new certificate with just the mother’s name as a single parent was being considered by the court.
The mother of the petitioner was just a minor when she was impregnated by an unknown person in unexplained circumstances. Due to this, the mother’s name was correctly included in every identity document the petitioner had, but the name of the unknown father was recorded differently in three of them.
Advocate K.V. Sohan, who is representing the petitioner, made the claim that the petitioner is an unfortunate youngster who had to go behind the respondents to correct his identification certificates with the name of a single father even though the same is pronounced by the Apex Court in ABC v. State.
The Registration of Births and Deaths Act of 1969 and the Kerala Registration of Births and Deaths Rules of 1999 were cited by the Court, in particular the Sections that allow the Registrar of Births and Deaths to correct any errors in records.
The court also cited the ruling rendered by the Kerala High Court in a case brought by an unmarried single mother who used assisted reproductive technology.
In that case, the Court had instructed the government to create a separate form without a field asking for the father’s name and other information. By doing so, the Court instructed the respondent to provide a certificate indicating the mother as the single parent and delete and remove the name of the father from the Birth Register kept at his office.
Case Title: xxx v. State of Kerala