Observing that it is the matter of a child's future and identity, the Bombay High Court last week ordered the Registrar of the Birth & Deaths and the BMC to consider a plea of a woman, seeking rectification of her son's birth certificate, which mentions the name of her ex-husband as his father since the biological father was reluctant to give his name to the child.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by Surekha Sharma, a journalist by profession, who challenged the decision of the Registrar as well as the BMC to rectify her son's birth record.
According to Surekha, she had divorced her ex husband and subsequently had a love affair with one Vinodkumar Sharma. Due the the intimate relationship, Surekha gave birth to a boy in September 2009 at city's Jaslok hospital.
Since Surekha and Vinodkumar weren't married, the latter was reluctant to give his name as a father to their son. The couple feared of the "stigma" in society and thus decided to give the name of Surekha's ex husband as a father to the newly born son.
However, after nearly a decade now, Vinodkumar realised that it was important for him to give his name and claim paternity for their son, the couple moved the Registrar and also the BMC to replace the ex husband's name with Vinodkumar.
To buttress their claim, the couple submitted a paternity test report, which concluded that Vinodkumar as the son's father to the extent of 99.99 per cent.
The authorities, however, didn't accept the report on the ground that it wasn't prepared by a government-run institution but was from a private lab. The report was labelled as "unauthentic" and wasn't accepted.
Having heard the contentions, the bench referred to the provisions of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, which allows corrections of the names on birth or death certificates, if the Registrar is satisfied that the initial entry was made erroneously or fraudulently or improperly.
"We find that if the Registrar is satisfied that any entry of birth or death in any register maintainedby him under the Act is erroneous in form or substance or has been fraudulently or improperly made, he may, subject to such rules as may be made by the state government, correct such entry," the judges said, adding, "The stand taken by the authorities does not appear tobe justified".
The bench further said that the authorities, to make changes, can rely on the declaration, setting forth the nature of the error and true facts of the case made by two credible persons having knowledge of the facts of the case.
"We are of the view that if the authorities are not sure about the authenticity of the paternity test report they can very well ascertain the same from the concerned institution and correlate the same with the documents relied upon by Surekha," the bench held.
While ordering the authorities to consider the documents again and decide Surekha's plea within six weeks, the judges said, "This matter relates to identity of a child which has long term implication. It is therefore important that the name of the father is correctly reflected in the official record."