In a significant verdict, the Kerala High Court has ruled that citizens have the fundamental right to not mention the name of their father in documents needed to prove identity, Live Law reported on Saturday.

In a judgement dated July 19, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan held that individuals could name their mother alone in their birth certificates and other identity documents. The judge held that the state has a duty to protect all citizens, including those who may have been conceived out of wedlock or out of rape.

“A child of an unwed mother is also a citizen of our country, and nobody can infringe any of his/her fundamental rights, which are guaranteed in our Constitution,” the order said. “None can intrude into their personal life, and if it happens, the constitutional Court of this country will protect their fundamental rights.”

The court was hearing a plea filed by an individual who wished to expunge his father’s name from the birth register and other documents. The petitioner also wanted fresh certificates be issued showing only his mother’s name as a single parent, according to Bar and Bench.

The petitioner had contended that he was born after his mother was impregnated by an unidentified person under “mysterious circumstances”. He said that the name of his father appears differently in different documents, while the mother’s name was accurate in all of them.

At the hearing, Justice Kunhikrishnan remarked that the mental agony faced by such children should be imagined by every citizen as they intrude into their privacy.

“In some cases it will be a deliberate act and in other cases it may be by mistake,” he observed, according to Live Law. “But the state should protect citizens of all such kinds as equal to other citizens without disclosing their identity and privacy. Otherwise, they will face unimaginable mental agonies.”