This Article is written by Himanshu Shukla, Student (IP University, Delhi)
The Kerala High Court held that asking the father’s name from single mothers who had given birth through assisted reproductive technology, for birth/death registration, affects the right of the child to the dignity of the mother along with the mother.
Justice Satish Ninan, while allowing the plea of a woman conceiving through IVF, observed that the respondent was required to provide separate forms for registration of births and deaths and to issue certificates for children born out of such pregnancies.
In the bench of Justice Satish Ninan, the court observed, “The right of the single-parent or unmarried mother to conceive through ART procedure has been recognized, prescribing the forms required to mention the father’s name, the details of which are anonymous, is a violation of their fundamental right to privacy, liberty, and dignity.”
The judgment proceeds in a petition filed by a woman conceiving through IVF challenging the requirement of mentioning father’s details under the Kerala Birth and Death Rules, 1970.
The woman had contended that leaving blank the father’s particulars on the certificate would infringe the right to privacy of the petitioner as well as his child as the fact that the child was born out of wedlock was her personal information.
Agreeing with the contention of the petitioner, the Court observed that the right of a woman to choose a reproductive option has been recognized as a fundamental right in India.
The Bench said, “It is sufficient to notice that, the rights of a woman to conceive through ART procedure are recognized and acknowledged in the country. After conceiving the ART procedure, the identity of the donor can’t be disclosed except in circumstances compelled by law. It is within the ambit of the right to privacy.”
Noting that this right was recognized in the guidelines of ART clinics with very few exceptions, the court held that the petitioner needs to provide the father’s name in the prescribed form for registration of births and deaths certificates.
So long as the right of a single woman/unmarried mother to conceive through ART procedures is recognized, the Court held that the State shall provide for the registration of births and deaths of children born through such procedures and the birth/death proofs. Obliged to provide a proper form for issuance of the letter.
Since the petitioner was in her 8th month of pregnancy, the court directed the State to “immediately” prescribe separate forms for registration of births and deaths and to issue certificates in cases relating to conception through the ART process.
To prevent misuse of such forms in ‘family disputes’, the court said the applicants may be asked to provide an affidavit that she is a single mother/unmarried mother, who became pregnant through the ART process, along with a copy of the medical record, submitted with it.