KOCHI: In a landmark judgment, the Kerala High Court has allowed the plea of a single mother, who got pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF), seeking a directive to the state government to strike down the column requiring to mention the details of the child's father from the birth certificate.
Justice Sathish Ninan directed the state government to have separate forms prescribed for registration of births and deaths and issuance of certificates in cases relating to conception through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) by single parents/unwed mothers, immediately. "The right of a single parent/unwed mother to conceive by ART has been recognized. Hence, prescriptions of forms requiring mentioning of the name of the father, the details of which are to be kept anonymous, is violative of the fundamental rights of privacy, liberty, and dignity," the court said.
The court added that human dignity has been held to be an integral part of the Constitution. "Having conceived through ART procedure, the identity of the sperm donor cannot be disclosed except in circumstances as may be compelled for, under law. It falls within the realm of the 'right of privacy'. Under the circumstances, there is no rhyme or reason in requiring the petitioner to provide the name of the father in the form prescribed for registration of birth and death," the court said.
Hence, the High Court said it is for the state to provide appropriate forms for registration of births and deaths of children born through such procedures and for issuance of birth/death certificates. The court suggested that the issue could be resolved by requiring the applicants to furnish an affidavit that she is a single parent/unwed mother conceived through ART procedure and produce along with the same a copy of a medical record in support thereof. To such applicants, a separate form, which does not contain the field regarding the name and other details of the father, should be issued.
The petitioner, who is a native of Panmana, Kollam, submitted that the identity of the donor is not even known to her. She is now in her eighth month of pregnancy. Advocate Aruna A, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that Kerala Registration of Births and Deaths Rules mandates furnishing of various details regarding the father of the child including name, education and occupation for registration of the birth of the child.
"The mandatory fields in the prescribed forms are violative of the fundamental rights of the petitioner. Hence, such a field should be deleted from the certificates of a child born to a single mother. Otherwise, it will continuously create problems in the life of the child and the mother, since it will be obvious to people who see the certificate that the child is born out of wedlock," the petitioner said.