The Karnataka High Court held that a child on attaining majority can seek his/her name to be incorporated in the Birth Certificate. The Corporation cannot reject such a plea on the ground of delay. The petitioner had approached this Court seeking to issue a writ of mandamus or any other suitable writ or order, directing the Respondent to issue a Birth Certificate for the petitioner, including her name.

A Bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj held that, “I am of the considered opinion that it would not be permissible to now deny the petitioner, the insertion of her name in the birth certificate because her parents had not furnished such details and/or that there is a delay in furnishing the said details by the Petitioner.”

The Court said, “I am of the considered opinion that when the identity of the petitioner is not in dispute, the paternity is not in dispute, the petitioner cannot be denied a birth certificate with her name on it when several other documents issued to the petitioner bear the name of her parents.”

The petitioner's birth certificate included the names of her father and mother but does not mention her own name. She applied for and obtained documents such as an Aadhaar Card, Passport, and a Grade sheet-cum-Certificate of performance from the Central Board of Secondary Education.

When the need arose to provide her birth certificate for employment purposes, the petitioner applied to the Respondent to have her name included in the birth certificate. However, her request was rejected by the Respondent on the grounds that, as per the Ministry of Home Affairs' instructions, a 15-year period was allowed for entering a person's name in the birth certificate.

Advocate Rakesh B. Bhatt appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Pawan Kumar appeared for the Respondents.

The petitioner's counsel argued that all records, apart from the birth certificate, correctly identify her parents. The absence of her name in the birth certificate is a clerical matter that should not prevent its inclusion.

The issue before the Court was whether the Municipal Corporation who is incharge of issuing birth and death Certificates in terms of the Karnataka Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 1999 can refuse the insertion of the name of the person born in the birth certificate when such an application was made?

The Court noted that the sole reason for the rejection of the petitioner's application was the alleged delay, as the application was made more than 20 years after the Rules came into effect in 1999.

The Court further noted that the petitioner had submitted documents such as her Aadhaar Card, Passport, and Central Board of Secondary Education certificate, all of which correctly identify her parents.

The Court said Rule 10 of the Karnataka Registration of Births and Deaths Rules 1999 specifies that if a child's birth is registered without a name, the parent or guardian has 12 months from the date of birth registration to provide the child's name to the Registrar. The proviso allows information to be provided within 15 years, with an additional 5-year extension.

The Court further said that the birth certificate in question does not mention the obligation of parents to comply with Rule 10, nor does it indicate the need for the person born to comply with this rule upon reaching adulthood.

The Court noted Ministry of Home Affairs' communication to the Corporation where the the Ministry clearly states that it is the Corporation's responsibility to inform everyone about the requirements of Rule 10 and publicize it widely. One straightforward way to achieve this would have been to include the Rule 10 requirement in birth certificates issued without a name, but this was not done.

The Court added, “There are no details which have been made available as regards in what manner the corporation has made known the said requirement to the general public, be that as it may the Petitioner was residing outside the State of Karnataka in Cochin, State of Kerala as such any information made known in Karnataka cannot be presumed to be to the knowledge of the Petitioner.”

The Court held that considering that the petitioner was a minor throughout the 15-year period and that the default was on her parents' part, it is unjust to deprive her of a birth certificate for eternity due to her parents' mistake. The Court added, “A mistake by the parents cannot put the child at a disadvantage since it is the child who is a petitioner now is in requirement of a Birth Certificate with her name on it for use in her employment.”

Therefore, the Court allowed the writ petition and directed the respondent to issue a birth certificate with the petitioner's name within 30 days. The Court further instructed the respondent to include the requirements of Rule 10 in all future birth certificates.

Cause Title: Fathima Richelle Mather v. The Registrar Of Births & Deaths, [2023:KHC:31637]

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