In a move that might turn revolutionary, Local Self Government Department, Govt. of Kerala,
has issued an order that has directed all civic bodies to correct the father’s name in birth certificates based on the DNA tests.
The order was issued keeping in mind the problems faced by children born out of illicit relationships, and thus many times have to leave the ‘father’ column blank in their birth certificates.
Children in these cases can now stake claim to certificates that show their true parentage, if they can produce a DNA test proving their claim.
The order was issued looking at the fact that there are soaring number of pending applications in various civic bodies pertaining to change in the father’s name.
Till now, the name of father that is is marked in the child’s birth certificate is only based on documents that are received from the hospital.
Furthermore, no application for any change in the father’s name is entertained since it cannot be proved and only the birth registrar can make such cancellations and corrections in a birth certificate if he/she is convinced about the truth.
DNA test was never allowed in these cases.
The issue of DNA test came to light, when in December 2014, the birth registrar of Malappuram municipality P K Ganeshan forwarded a letter to the concerned authorities, asking if the DNA test could be used as basis for changing the father’s name in a birth certificate.
At the same time, another case had arisen in Thiruvananthapuram corporation where a woman had applied for changing the name of the father of her twins after five years of marriage.
The second case led to legal issues as the chief registrar in Thiruvanthapuram, sought clarification on these applications since many more cases of similar kind were being reported. The problem in the above case was that the woman was married to a person other than the biological father of the kids and had applied for the birth certificate with the present husband’s name as the child’s father. In the above case the local bodies thus would not change the name of the father as the woman failed to prove the child’s paternity with regards to the father.
It must be noted that in the above case, the women can apply for change in the father’s name, but only after her present husband has applied for adoption and has been granted permission by the court.
The certificate in the above case can only be given by the court as the birth registrar office only issues birth certificate based on testified hospital documents.
Explaining the situation K P Sabukuttan Nair, deputy chief registrar, panchayat department said:
“Often it led to much con fusion and children had to bear the brunt since certificates would show the father’s name as ‘unknown’. With this order, we can direct for a DNA test and parentage can be ascertained.”
James Varghese, LSG principal secretary agreed with Nair and said that not only was this going to be an important order, but it will also do away with any confusion with regards to applications pertaining to the child’s paternity.
The order has gone into effect from January 1 and the birth registrar can now change the name of the father based on: DNA test, including biological information from a government-approved laboratory; hospital documents testified by concerned officials; court order and a local inquiry by the registrar.