Jigya Yadav Thru Her Father vs C.B.S.E. (Central Board Of … on 3 June, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Jigya Yadav Thru Her Father vs C.B.S.E. (Central Board Of … on 3 June, 2021

Author: A.M. Khanwilkar

Bench: A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari

                                                                   REPORTABLE

                               IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3905 OF 2011

          JIGYA YADAV (MINOR)
          (THROUGH GUARDIAN/FATHER
          HARI SINGH)                                           ...APPELLANT
                                Versus

          C.B.S.E. (CENTRAL BOARD OF
          SECONDARY EDUCATION) & ORS.                           ...RESPONDENT(S)

                                              with

                                CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3572 OF 2019

                                CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1822/2021
                         (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7381 OF 2021)
                                   (@ DIARY NO. 9445 of 2020)

                                CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1823/ 2021
                         (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7382 OF 2021)
                                   (@ DIARY NO. 9482 of 2020)

                                CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1824/ 2021
                         (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7383 OF 2021)
                                  (@ DIARY NO. 14737 of 2020)
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
DEEPAK SINGH
Date: 2021.06.03
                                CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1825/ 2021
                         (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7384 OF 2021)
14:11:43 IST
Reason:




                                  (@ DIARY NO. 16291 of 2020)

                                                1
        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1826/2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 10927 OF 2020)

        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1827/2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 10948 OF 2020)

       CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1828/2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7385 OF 2021)
         (@ DIARY NO. 18711 of 2020)

        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1829/2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 10959 OF 2020)

       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1830/ 2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 10801 OF 2020)

       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1831/ 2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 10795 OF 2020)

        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1832/2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 10796 OF 2020)

       CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1833/2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7386 OF 2021
         (@ DIARY NO. 19181 of 2020)

        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1834/ 2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 11320 OF 2020)

       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1835/ 2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 11558 OF 2020)

       CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1836/ 2021
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7387 OF 2021)
         (@ DIARY NO. 21923 of 2020)

                       2
               CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1837/2021
        (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO(S). 7388 OF 2021)
                 (@ DIARY NO. 25053 of 2020)

                CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1838/2021
        (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 15089 OF 2020)

               CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1839/ 2021
        (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 15124 OF 2020)

                CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1840/2021
        (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 15625 OF 2020)

                                 AND

                 T.P. (C) NOS. 1139­1140 OF 2020


                          JUDGMENT

A.M. Khanwilkar, J.

1. “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other

name would smell as sweet”, said Juliet. This quote from William

Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is unarguably one of the most

iconic dialogues in classical literature. It conveys that the natural

characteristics of an individual are more important than his/her

artificial/acquired characteristics. A poetic statement as it certainly

is, it does not go in tune with the significance of a name in marking

3
the identity of an individual in his/her societal transactions. To put

it differently, name is an intrinsic element of identity.

2. The seminal issue in these cases is: whether an individual’s

control over such cardinal element of identity could be denied to

him/her by the Central Board of Secondary Education 1 on the

specious ground that its Examination Byelaws of 2007 2 must

prevail over the claim of the candidate, which are merely intended

to regulate such a claim and to delineate the procedure for

correction/change in the contents of certificate(s) issued by it

including regarding maintenance of its office records?

3. The CBSE Examination Byelaws restrict, both qualitatively

and quantitatively, the corrections/changes that can be carried out

in the certificates issued by the Board. Various students with need­

based requests approached different High Courts resulting into

inconsistent outcomes leading up to this batch of appeals. Apart

from the fact that the judgments have produced conflicting

outcomes, the petitions raise some peculiar questions on the

1 for short, “CBSE” or “Board”, as the case may be
2 for short, “Byelaws”

4
constitutional validity of CBSE Examination Byelaws (as amended

from time to time) and interpretation thereof.

4. The present case involves a batch of 22 petitions wherein

questions relating to correction/change in name/surname/date of

birth of candidates or their parents in the certificates issued by the

Board have been raised.

5. In order to identify the precise scope of challenge, we may now

delineate the factual matrix in individual petitions.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3905 OF 2011

6. The appellant in this case, Ms. Jigya Yadav, has assailed the

decision of the High Court of Delhi, dated 20.12.2010 in W.P. (C)

No. 3774/2010, wherein the High Court rejected the prayer for

direction to the Board to carry out correction of her parents’ name

in the marksheets issued by it. The appellant’s case was that the

name of her parents was incorrectly recorded as “Hari Singh Yadav”

instead of “Hari Singh” (as recorded in the identity documents of

father) and “Mamta Yadav” instead of “Mamta” (as recorded in the

5
identity documents of mother). Relying upon Byelaw 69.1 of the

CBSE Examination Bye­laws, 2007, the High Court affirmed the

decision of the Board in refusing the desired corrections/changes.

The Court relied upon the nursery application form, school

admission form and stream allotment form for class XI filled by the

parents of the appellant to conclude that the errors were not

inadvertent, and they had consciously chosen and retained the said

names despite having opportunity to rectify before the X th standard.

It observed thus:

“15. From the aforesaid, it is apparent that despite the
parents of the petitioner having mentioned their names as
“Hari Singh” and “Mamta” in the petitioner’s birth certificate,
they have consciously and consistently chosen to record their
names as “Hari Singh Yadav” and “Mamta Yadav” in the
school record. Consequently, we are of the opinion that this
Court in the present petition should not deal with the
challenge of constitutional validity as it is the petitioner’s
parents who are at fault and the error, if any, has been
repeated on a number of occasions by the petitioner’s parents
themselves. In fact, we are of the view that for the fault of the
petitioner’s parents, the impugned Bye­law of the respondent
no. 1 cannot be set aside …”

The Court, however, made an avoidable observation that in a

country with caste­based reservations, changes in name cannot be

permitted readily. It noted thus:

“17. We are also of the view that in a country where there is
reservation on caste and religious grounds, change of names

6
of parents or ward’s name cannot be allowed at the drop of
the hat.”

The Court then observed that Byelaw 69.1 permits CBSE to carry

out corrections only to the extent of bringing the record in

conformity with the school record. In paragraph 21, the Court

noted thus:

“21. Even if one were to apply the aforesaid test one finds that
the respondent no. 1 essentially records what has been
mentioned in the school records consistently and that too,
upto Class X, that means, for more than 10 years the child
and/or her parents have the liberty to rectify the record.

Consequently, we are of the opinion that the impugned Bye­
law is perfectly reasonable.”

While concluding, the Court observed that the Courts must be wary

of interfering in academic matters and should refrain from giving an

expansive interpretation to statutory rules/byelaws as it may

render the system unworkable. It noted in paragraph 22:

“22. Moreover, we are of the view that the Court should be
extremely reluctant to substitute its own views as to what is
wise, prudent and proper in relation to academic matters in
preference to those formulated by professional men
possessing technical expertise and rich experience of actual
day­to­day working of educational institutions and the
departments controlling them. It will be wholly wrong for the
Court to take a pedantic and purely idealistic approach to the
problems of this nature, isolated from the actual realities and
grass root problems involved in the working of the system and
unmindful of the consequences which would emanate if a
purely idealistic view as opposed to a pragmatic one were to
be propounded. It is equally important that the Court should
also, as far as possible, avoid any decision or interpretation of

7
a statutory provision, rule or bye­law which would bring about
the result of rendering the system unworkable in practice – as
contended by the respondent no. 1 in its counter affidavit.”

7. Assailing the decision, the appellant contends that Byelaw

69.1 (after 2007 amendment) is invalid as being unreasonable and

arbitrary, thereby violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, as it

puts a blanket embargo on corrections other than those which are

necessary for bringing the documents in conformity with the school

record. It is contended that the amended byelaw does not address

the possibility of error in the school record itself, and leaves the

student with no opportunity to correct the error committed by the

parents in the school records. To buttress this submission, the

appellant has submitted that the resultant hardship caused to her

is infringement of her right guaranteed in Article 19(1)(g), right to

freely express one’s identity as per Article 19(1)(a) and right to

dignity in Article 21 of the Constitution.

8. In the written submissions, the appellant has urged that

CBSE certificates are public records of the Board and they carry a

presumption of genuineness which must be respected by preserving

the accuracy of such certificates. It is further urged that the 2007

8
Byelaws place school records above public documents which carry

presumption of genuineness under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 3.

To buttress this submission, it is stated that it would be contrary to

the objectives of CBSE if it refuses to correct its documents despite

having verified the genuineness of the supporting public documents

(like Aadhar card, Passport, Birth Certificate etc.) and continues to

perpetuate the obvious errors in the school records.

9. The appellant has further submitted that by amending Byelaw

69.1 in this manner, CBSE has acted in violation of Regulation 10

and objectives of CBSE by rendering itself incapable of rectifying

errors in the certificates and issuing accurate certificates, which is

a basic function of the Board. The CBSE has, the appellant

submitted, exceeded its powers by effecting the said amendment as

it was never meant to exercise such authority of putting fetters on

its basic duties. Reliance has been placed upon Dhruva Parate vs.

CBSE & Anr.4, State of NCT of Delhi & Anr. vs. Sanjeev @

Bittoo5, Indian Aluminium Company vs. Kerala State

3 For short, “1872 Act”
4 ILR 2009 V Delhi 371
5 2005 (5) SCC 181

9
Electricity Board6 and J.K. Aggarwal vs. Haryana Seeds

Development Corporation Ltd. & Ors.7 to urge that CBSE cannot

circumscribe its own powers with a self­imposed limitation in this

manner.

10. The appellant has further submitted that the impugned

judgment erroneously connects the subject matter of the case with

caste­based reservations which displays stereotype prejudice of the

Court towards her cause. The appellant also takes exception to the

observations regarding wrongful conduct of the appellant’s parents

in failing to get the records rectified before X th standard. It is stated

that the impugned judgment overlooked the fact that the parents

had no choice of getting the application form corrected in XI th

standard as it necessarily reflected the details of X th standard

without offering a choice of alteration.

11. In response, the Board has relied upon Byelaw 69.1 to submit

that the appellant’s request for rectification was considered and the

certificates were found to be matching with the school records and

thus, no case for rectification was made out. It is submitted that

6 1975 (2) SCC 414
7 1991 (2) SCC 283

10
before amendment Byelaw 69.1 permitted a different procedure for

rectification – approval by Court of law and notification in the

gazette. Under this procedure, umpteen number of cases were filed,

even after more than ten years of declaration of result, for

rectification of name/surname and Courts were constantly

approached for seeking leave to get the rectification done. As a

result, objections were raised by various government authorities

questioning the power of the Board to carry out changes in the

identity of the students even after they have passed the

examinations conducted by the Board. It is submitted that various

Courts also expressed displeasure and suggested rephrasing of

Byelaw 69.1. Resultantly, the 2007 amendment was effected

permitting corrections only to the extent of bringing the certificates

in conformity with the school record.

12. To buttress the above submission, it is urged that CBSE,

being an autonomous society registered under the Societies

Registration Act, 1860, has the power to make, amend or delete its

Rules, Regulations and Byelaws. Accordingly, Byelaw 69.1 was

amended as the basic record of a student is kept by the school and

11
the Board has no option but to rely upon the school record. It is

further submitted that the parents of the appellant had ample

opportunity to correct the school record and they chose not to do

so. In fact, the respondent adds, they repeatedly filled the same

particulars of their names in all the school forms from time to time.

13. The Board has also filed elaborate written submissions to

support their case. It is submitted that the Examination Byelaws of

the Board are statutory in nature as they were framed in

furtherance of the powers granted to the Board as per Government

of India Resolution dated 1.7.1929 and deviation cannot be

permitted from the Byelaws. As regards the argument of violation

of fundamental rights, the Board has submitted that there may be a

fundamental right to be identified as per the choice of an individual,

but there can be no fundamental right to claim that the changed

identity must be operative since birth thereby compelling all

including statutory bodies to carry out changes in documents

issued by them. It is urged that any other view would amount to

misuse of liberty and cause serious confusion at different level.

12
Reliance has been placed upon Rayaan Chawla vs. University of

Delhi & Anr.8 to support this position.

14. The Board has further submitted that the

restrictions/conditions for change of name and date of birth are

reasonable as all the details are supplied by the students/parents

at various stages of admissions which offers a prima facie guarantee

of genuineness. It is submitted that change of name and date of

birth in a reckless manner could have serious repercussions –

misuse for employment, manipulating age of the accused etc.

Reliance has been placed upon Sanjeev Kumar Gupta vs. State of

Uttar Pradesh & Anr.9 to illustrate this.

15. The written submissions also touch upon the question of

relevant date for the applicability of 2007 Byelaws. It is submitted

that the relevant date would be the date of passing X th standard

examination and not the date of making application for changes.

Lastly, it is submitted that the remedy of writ petition may not be

appropriate for effecting changes in CBSE certificates as usually,

8 275 (2020) Delhi Law Times 314
9 (2019) 12 SCC 370

13
students come up with independent documents for supporting their

claim and the writ Courts are not expected to adjudicate disputed

facts concerning the relied upon documents. To buttress this

submission, it is stated that despite presumption in favour of

certified copies of public documents, they cannot be accepted at

face value without providing an opportunity to rebut them as per

Section 4 of the 1872 Act.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3572 OF 2019

16. In this appeal, the appellant (CBSE) has assailed the judgment

dated 6.2.2019 passed by the High Court of Delhi in L.P.A. No.

128/2017, reversing the order of learned Single Judge in W.P. (C)

No. 6996/2016, wherein the prayer of the respondent (father of the

student) to change the mother’s name in the certificate was

rejected. The respondent had applied to CBSE for the change of

mother’s name from “Kiran Khan” to “Fakiha Khan” stating that

“Kiran Khan”, being the nickname of the mother, was inadvertently

recorded in the school record of the student at the time of her

admission in class I in 2005.

14

17. The Division Bench granted the prayer primarily on the

ground that the stated change was a mere correction of name and

not a change of name per se as per the language of Rules 69.1(i)

and 69.1(ii) of the Byelaws (as amended in 2015). To reach this

conclusion, the Court relied upon the birth certificate of the

student, educational certificates of mother, passport etc. which

revealed that the mother’s name was recorded as “Fakiha Khan” in

all these documents and it was nothing but an inadvertent error on

the part of parents to have used the nickname of the mother while

filling her school forms. The High Court noted that the case is

neither a change of name as per Rule 69.1(i) nor a correction of

typographical nature as per Rule 69.1(ii). It is relevant to reproduce

paragraph 4 of the impugned judgment, which reads thus:

“4. Having considered the diverse aspects and the admitted
factual conspectus on record, we find, the case in hand, is not
a case of any change of name, but, a mere correction in the
mother’s name of the child Ms. Filza Khan. Apparently, an
inadvertent mistake in mentioning the mother’s nickname
“Ms. Kiran Khan” in the admission form in the year 2005, got
transmitted by the respondent No.2 school to the respondent
No.1 Board. The application made by the petitioner was not
for any change of name, but, for correction of an inadvertent
mistake in mentioning the name of the mother in the
admission form as “Kiran Khan” instead of “Fakiha Khan”,
which fact, undisputedly, finds support from the birth
certificate dated 17.12.02, copy whereof forms part of the
record as Annexure­P1. This birth certificate clearly mentions

15
that Ms. Filza Khan was born to the petitioner and Ms. Fakiha
Khan. The applicant has placed on record other documents,
such as the educational certificates of the mother Fakiha
Khan, her passport etc., which show that her name always
was Fakiha Khan. Thus, it is not a case of change of name of
the mother to Kiran Khan, from Fakiha Khan, post the filling
up of the examination form of the appellant’s daughter.

Pertinently, even in the documents relating to the daughter of
the appellant Filza Khan, such as her Birth Certificate, the
name of the mother is recorded as “Fakiha Khan” and not
“Kiran Khan”. Thus, the case in hand is certainly not a case of
change of name as contemplated under Rule 69.1(i). It is also
not a case of correction in spelling errors and factual
typographical errors as contemplated under Rule 69.1(ii). The
case in hand is completely founded on the premise of an
inadvertent mistake in mentioning the name of the mother in
the admission form, which was filled way back in the year
2005 at the time of admission of the child in class ­I. …”

The Court, relying upon Mazhar Saleem Chandroth (Minor) Thr.

Saleem Chandroth (father and natural guardian) vs. Central

Board of Secondary Education10, also observed that the

Examination Byelaws of the appellant (CBSE) are not of a statutory

nature. The Court, before parting, further noted that a restrictive

and strict approach is not warranted in matters involving correction

or change of name by the Board merely on ground of administrative

inconvenience. It noted thus:

“6. The adoption of a strict and restrictive approach in the
matter of change or correction of name of the candidate or
his/her parents, in the certificates issued by the respondent
No.1, cannot be justified on the foundation that such
changes, when made later, may be exploited to mislead all
10 LPA 315/2017

16
concerned about the identity of the candidate. Such a strict
and restrictive approach cannot be justified merely on the
ground of some administrative inconvenience. After all,
respondent No.1 charges the fee to cover its costs for
undertaking such an exercise. …”

Observing that the subject change in the mother’s name would not

result into an alteration of identity of the student as the name

“Fakiha Khan” was a part of the documents all along, it noted thus:

“6. …In the present case, there is no possibility of the identity
of the candidate Filza Khan being changed by permitting the
change of name of her mother from “Kiran Khan” to Fakiha
Khan”, since the name of the child/candidate; the name of the
father; the date and place of birth, continue to remain the
same. Even the name of the mother – which is now sought to
be brought on record, is the real name of the mother which
has always remained so and the same name of the mother is
also reflected in the Birth Certificate of the child/candidate
Filza Khan. In fact, the non­amendment of the name of the
mother of the child/candidate from “Kiran Khan” to “Fakiha
Khan” would, in future, lead to confusion and may mar the
future prospects of the child/candidate while seeking
admissions to institutions of higher education, or
employment.”

18. The appellant (CBSE), in this appeal, has submitted that the

impugned judgment has incorrectly treated the subject change in

mother’s name as a mere correction born out of an inadvertent

error. It is submitted that the said change is a complete change of

name which was continuously retained in the school records for a

period of 11 years. It is urged that the impugned judgment has

failed to give effect to Rules 69.1(i) and 69.1(ii) of the Board as such
17
change of name without an order of the Court and followed by a

notification in the official gazette was outrightly prohibited.

Justifying the said Rules, it is submitted that the Board has no

power or independent sources to verify the identity of the students

and owing to the nature of its functioning, it has to rely upon the

school records to furnish certificates.

19. The appellant (CBSE) further submits that the records were

sent by the school in the academic year 2014­2015 when the

student filled the examination form for submission to the Board and

the said form not only recorded the mother’s name as “Kiran Khan”

but also carried the signature of the mother in the verification

portion of the form. To buttress this submission, it is urged that

the said mistake (if any) could not have been treated as inadvertent

as it was retained as such for a long period of 11 years. It is added

that parents themselves were the source of information regarding

the name and thus, there could be no reason to regard it as

inadvertent.

20. The appellant has further submitted that the impugned

judgment is in conflict with another judgment of a co­ordinate

18
bench of the High Court in Mazhar Saleem Chandroth11 wherein

the prayer for addition of word “Saleem” in the name was not held

to be a correction or typographical error and was rejected stating

that such change would be inconsistent with the school record and

thus, impermissible. It is added that in such a situation, the

Division bench ought to have sent the matter for consideration by a

larger bench.

CIVIL APPEAL NO(S) 1822/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s) 7381/2021
(@ Diary No. 9445/2020)

21. In this appeal, the appellant (CBSE) has assailed the judgment

dated 5.11.2019 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No.

2225/2019 affirming the decision of learned Single Judge in W.P.

(C) No. 5287/2019 dated 28.2.2019. The respondent student had

approached the Board for correction of his father’s name in the

CBSE certificate from “P.P. Abdul Latheef” to Latheef P.A.”. The

said request was denied by the Board citing Byelaw 69.1 of the

2007 Byelaws, as applicable. The Board stated that the

respondent’s case does not meet the conditions stipulated in the

11 supra at Footnote No.10

19
said byelaw and thus, change in name cannot be permitted.

Aggrieved by this denial, the respondent moved the High Court.

The correction or change of name was then permitted by the High

Court upon payment of Rs. 5,000 by the student to the Board for

availing its service. The Board appealed against that decision.

Affirming the decision, the High Court observed that the decision is

in accordance with the decision of a co­ordinate bench of the same

High Court in Subin Mohammed vs. Union of India12 wherein a

change in date of birth of a student was permitted by the Court.

While recognising that the case at hand involved the change of

father’s name (and not date of birth), the Court noted the similarity

of grounds raised by the appellant before it, and relied upon Subin

Mohammed13 to reject the same. It observed thus:

“6. Though the issue relates to correction of the petitioner’s
father’s name in the CBSE certificate, the grounds on which
the appellants had assailed the correctness of the judgment of
the writ court are more or less similar, based on the bye­law
of the CBSE and the delay in making the application for
correction. Except the above, there is no variance. Though Mr.
Nirmal S., learned counsel for the appellants, made
submissions on the grounds extracted supra assailing the
correctness of judgment of the writ court, we are not inclined
to accept the said contentions for the reason that a Hon’ble
Division Bench of this Court in Subin Mohammed S. v. Union

12 2016 (1) KLT 340
13 supra at Footnote No.12

20
of India and others reported in 2016 (1) KLT 340, has
considered the said contentions and rejected the same. …”

22. The impugned judgment relied upon the respondent’s Birth

Certificate dated 25.7.2013 and his father’s Death certificate dated

12.8.2009 to conclude that the father’s name was indeed “Latheef

P.A.” in statutory records and there could be no objection in

permitting the said change.

23. In its challenge, the primary ground of the appellant is that

the reliance placed by the High Court upon Subin Mohammed14 is

misplaced. For, the said judgment is inapplicable in the factual

matrix of the case. It is submitted that in Subin Mohammed15, the

case involved a change in date of birth and the Court had recorded

a specific finding that CBSE Byelaws would not permit the said

change. It is further submitted that the Court failed to acknowledge

that CBSE Byelaws, though not strictly statutory, have a regulatory

colour and must bind those who have chosen to comply with them

while participating in the examinations conducted by the Board.

14 supra at Footnote No.12
15 supra at Footnote No.12

21

24. The appellant has further submitted that neither Byelaw

69.1(i) nor 69.1(ii) apply to the facts of the case. It is stated that

Byelaw 69.1(i) would apply only when change of name is approved

by a Court of law followed by a notification in the official gazette,

that too before the declaration of result by the Board. To buttress

this submission, it is added that the respondent obtained his birth

certificate in 2013, one year before the matriculation examination in

2014 and thus, there was no difficulty for the respondent in

applying for the said change as per Byelaw 69.1(i). According to the

appellant (CBSE), the conditions of the aforesaid Byelaws have not

been fulfilled by the respondent and in absence thereof, no such

changes can be permitted.

25. The appellant has also urged that the reliance upon Birth

Certificate and Death Certificate is unwarranted as both these

documents were not proved before any Court of law and there is no

material on record to establish that “P.P. Abdul Latheef” and

“Latheef P.A.” is the same person. The appellant has placed

reliance upon Board of Secondary Education of Assam vs. Md.

22
Sarifuz Zaman & Ors
.16 to further argue that correction of entries

in a certificate duly issued by the Board cannot be claimed as a

matter of legal right and frequent corrections cannot be permitted

readily as it would have the effect of rendering this power arbitrary,

in addition to reducing the credibility of certificates issued by the

Board.

CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1823/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s). 7382/2021
(@ Diary No. 9482/2020)

26. The challenge in this appeal is against the judgment dated

20.11.2019 of the Kerala High Court in W.A. No. 2354/2019

affirming the decision of learned Single Judge in W.P. No.

11876/2018, wherein the respondent student’s prayer for change in

date of birth was granted by the Court. The respondent passed her

matriculation examination in 2011. The concerned certificate

issued by the Board recorded her date of birth as 28.11.1995.

Thereafter, in 2013, the respondent applied for the issuance of

Birth Certificate which was issued on 28.6.2013 bearing her date of

birth as 21.11.1995.

16 (2003) 12 SCC 408

23

27. The respondent applied to the Board for change in date of

birth. It was rejected by the Board. The High Court allowed her

prayer after placing reliance on Subin Mohammed17. The

observations of the High Court are similar to those in civil appeal

arising from SLP (C) No(s). 7381/2021 (@Diary No. 9445/2020) and

are not being discussed again for brevity.

28. The appellant (CBSE) has assailed the decision on the ground

that the respondent’s case does not fulfil the criteria/conditions for

change in date of birth under Byelaws 69.2 and 69.3 of the 2007

Byelaws, as applicable. It is submitted that as per Byelaw 69.2,

change in date of birth is permissible only before the same is

recorded in the record of the Board and despite having sufficient

time, the respondent did not approach the Board for any correction

on or before 2011. Afterwards, under Byelaw 69.3, corrections of

merely typographical or other similar errors are permissible to bring

the particulars in consonance with the school record. It is stated

that the respondent’s case does not fulfil any of these criteria.

17 supra at Footnote No.12

24

29. It is further submitted that the impugned judgment was

passed without granting an opportunity to the appellant for

ascertaining the genuineness of the request for change in date of

birth, which is a mandatory requirement as per Subin

Mohammed18. The appellant has raised a question on the

genuineness of the request by stating that even if the incorrect date

of birth is treated as an error, it is inconceivable that the appellant

or her parents could not notice the error for a period of 23 years.

30. The submissions regarding the inapplicability of the dictum in

Subin Mohammed19 are similar to those made in civil appeal

arising from SLP (C) No(s). 7381/2021 (@ Diary No. 9445/2020)

and are not being repeated for brevity.

CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1824/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s). 7383/2021
(@ Diary No. 14737/2020)

31. In this appeal, the appellant (CBSE) has assailed the judgment

dated 13.12.2019 passed by the High Court of Judicature for

Rajasthan in D.B. Civil Special Appeal (Writ) No. 838/2019

confirming the order of the learned Single Judge in S.B. Civil Writ
18 supra at Footnote No.12
19 supra at Footnote No.12

25
Petition No. 18013/2018 in terms of the Byelaws (as amended in

2015 and as applicable to the case).

32. The case involves a request for change of mother’s name of the

student in CBSE certificates from “Seema Manak” to “Sanyogeta

Manak”. The respondent participated in the matriculation

examination conducted by the Board in May, 2016. In October,

2016, the said request was made when the mother changed her

name. The Board denied the request for change of name citing their

inability under the Byelaws. Another request was made by the

respondent which was met with the same response from the Board.

The matter went to the High Court by way of a writ petition and the

Court granted the prayer for change of name by holding that the

Board failed to perform its duty in denying the request for change of

name. The Court took note of the birth certificate of the

respondent, copy of passport and copy of Aadhar card of the

mother, and also noted that the requirements of newspaper

publication and gazette notification were fulfilled. It then directed

the Board to effect the change. The Court observed that the CBSE

rules cannot prohibit an individual from having his/her identity

26
recognized through the parents and if they are applied for denying

such corrections, it would be ultra vires the rules as they are not

statutory in nature. It observed thus:

“In the opinion of this Court such rules framed by CBSE go
contrary to the basic principles laid down in the
circumstances regarding individual to have his identity
recognized from his/her parents, the CBSE cannot be allowed
to force any individual to have his mother’s name or his
father’s name different from what his/her mother’s name or
father’s name is known in the Society as well as in the
records. If such rules are applied for denying a candidate from
getting correction done in the mark sheet or certificates, the
same have to be declared as ultra vires to the rules since the
rules not statutory.”

33. In order to assail the above decision, the appellant has relied

upon Byelaws 69.1(i) and 69.1(ii) to contend that Byelaw 69.1(i)

provides for change of name of the student only and change of

name of parents is not envisaged in it. It is submitted that Byelaw

69.1(ii) provides for corrections and the present case is not one of

corrections, rather, it involves a material change of name. Similar

to the submissions advanced in previous appeals, it is submitted

that the Board cannot act in violation of their byelaws and permit

corrections when the same are not permitted under them. The

appellant has urged that they duly applied their mind to the request

27
of the respondent twice and there was no occasion for the Court to

pass an order in complete ignorance of the byelaws.

34. It is further submitted that the impugned judgment holds the

byelaws as ultra vires despite the fact that their validity was not

even in question before the Court. Reliance has been placed by the

appellant upon Md. Sarifuz Zaman20 to urge that there is no

vested right to claim corrections in certificates at any point of time.

CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1825/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s). 7384/2021
(@ Diary No. 16291/2020)

35. The challenge in this appeal is against the decision dated

20.11.2019 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No.

2340/2019 confirming the order passed by learned Single Judge in

W.P. (C) No. 8540/2019, wherein the High Court allowed the prayer

for change of the respondent student’s name from “Mohammed

Shafeek” to “Mohammed Shafeek S.” in terms of the 2007 Byelaws,

as applicable. The respondent passed matriculation examination in

2014. During school, the name of the respondent was recorded as

“Mohammed Shafeek” in accordance with the birth certificate
20 supra at Footnote No.16

28
issued in 2002. After passing matriculation, another birth

certificate was issued in 2017 wherein a different name i.e.,

“Mohammed Shafeek S.” was recorded. In accordance with the

second birth certificate, the respondent approached the Board for

change of name which was denied by the Board citing failure to

fulfil the conditions envisaged in the Byelaws. The High Court

granted the prayer by placing reliance upon the dictum in Subin

Mohammed21.

36. The reasoning adopted by the High Court is similar to that in

civil appeals arising from SLP (C) No(s). 7381/2021 (@ Diary No.

9445/2020) and SLP (C) No(s).7382/2021 (@ Diary No. 9482/2020),

and we are not reiterating the same.

37. Assailing the decision, the appellant’s submissions are largely

similar to those in previous appeals. Other than grounds already

urged before, the appellant has submitted that the Court failed to

consider the presence of two birth certificates and went on to grant

the prayer without weighing the genuineness of the certificates and

21 supra at Footnote No.12

29
without seeking an explanation from the respondent for bringing

two birth certificates on record.

38. It is submitted that in 2004, while taking admission in class I,

the respondent’s name was recorded as “Mohammed Shafeek”. The

same name was carried forward while filling the admission form

again in 2008 for a different school. It is further submitted that

even at the time of filling the form for class XI, the same name was

recorded and it was duly communicated by the school to the Board.

The name recorded in the certificate, therefore, is in complete

accordance with the school record. To buttress this submission, it

is urged that the record clearly shows that there is no possibility of

typographical error in the record of the respondent and a

subsequent substantial change of name cannot be permitted in the

certificates of the Board in this manner.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1826/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 10927/2020)

39. The challenge in this appeal is against the judgment dated

24.8.2020 passed by the Delhi High Court in L.P.A. No. 219/2020

confirming the order of learned Single Judge in W.P. (C) No.
30
10841/2019 wherein the respondent student’s prayer for addition

of surname was granted in terms of the 2007 Byelaws, as

applicable. The respondent passed the examinations conducted by

the Board under the name “Jyoti”. The name was consistently

recorded as such in all her school records and accordingly, the

CBSE certificates carried the same name. Thereafter, she

completed her MBBS and applied for education in a foreign

institution. As a part of her application, she was asked to mention

her surname. Since none of her documents carried this

information, she applied to the Board for addition of surname and

change her name from “Jyoti” to “Jyoti Dalal” in the certificates.

The Board refused and the respondent approached the High Court.

40. The High Court considered the applicability of Byelaws 69.1(i)

and 69.1(ii) and ruled that the said byelaws are inapplicable to the

facts of the case as the respondent’s case is not one for change of

name but for incorporation of a surname which existed throughout

in the records of her parents and for which no ambiguity could be

alleged. It observed thus:

“8. Looking to the peculiar facts and circumstance of the
present case, we are of the opinion that the same does not fall

31
under the ambit of Clause 69(1)(i) of the Examination Bye­
Laws as:­

a) This is not a case of change of name, but of
incorporation of the surname of the person
concerned,

b) This is not a case where something which was
altogether omitted is to be added, as the parents’
names were available in full in the records of the
appellant­Board,

c) The respondent (original petitioner) in this case
carries the surname of the father and the mother
which she wanted to mention after her name. There
is no dispute about her identity or confusion about
the veracity of the name which she seeks to
incorporate.”

Before parting, the High Court specifically noted that its decision

must not be treated as a precedent and would operate on the

specific facts of the case.

41. The appellant has assailed the decision by contending that

any request for change of name is to be examined as per Byelaw

69.1(i) and not beyond it. If such change is not permissible under

the said byelaw, then it would be wholly improper for the Court to

direct such changes. It is contended that there was no challenge to

the validity of the byelaws, and until and unless the byelaws are

declared to be invalid, the Court cannot direct any action in

complete contravention thereof. As urged in previous cases, it is

added that the respondent’s case failed to fulfil the condition
32
precedent in the said byelaw – prior approval by a Court of law

followed by publication in gazette – and the impugned order had the

effect of diluting these conditions.

42. The appellant has submitted that the relief claimed by the

respondent is highly delayed in time and in law, delay defeats

discretion. It is urged that the respondent was always aware of the

absence of surname in her records and she kept on sleeping on her

rights for a period of seven years and therefore, the loss of

limitation must bar any legal remedy for her. It is further submitted

that such changes cannot be permitted in a routine manner as the

credibility attached with CBSE certificates would be compromised

and subsequent changes would create anomalies in the record.

Reliance has been placed upon Abhishek Kumar @ Bal Kishan

vs. Union of India & Ors.22 to urge that subsequent issuance of

revised certificates would create discrepancy in the record and

reflect status which did not even exist at the time of making

certificates.

22 (2014) 144 DRJ 8 (DB) : 2014 SCC OnLine Del 3459

33

43. The appellant has submitted that exercise of jurisdiction

under Article 226 of the Constitution in this manner is

unwarranted as it amounts to substitution of the views of the Court

in the place of byelaws formulated on the basis of technical advice.

It is urged that the Court must be reluctant to venture into

academic matters in this manner.

CIVIL APPEAL NO.1827/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 10948/2020)

44. The challenge in this appeal is against the decision dated

13.7.2020 by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No. 863/2020

confirming the order of the learned Single Judge in W.P. (C) No.

21357/2019, wherein the respondent student’s prayer for change in

date of birth was granted on the basis of the birth certificate in

terms of the 2007 Byelaws, as applicable. The observations of the

High Court are similar to those in civil appeals arising from SLP (C)

No(s).7381/2021 (@ Diary No. 9445/2020), SLP (C)

No(s).7382/2021 (@ Diary No. 9482/2020) and SLP (C)

34
No(s).7384/2021 (@ Diary No. 16291/2020). We are not reiterating

the same for the sake of brevity.

45. On perusal of the submissions, we find that the grounds urged

for assailing the decision are also similar to those taken in previous

appeals and we are not repeating the same.

46. In addition to grounds already advanced, the respondent has

filed elaborate written submissions and additional written

submissions to which we may make a brief reference. It is

submitted that as per Byelaw 7 of the Examination Byelaws, the

admission procedure upto class VIII is to be regulated by

rules/regulations/orders of the concerned State Government.

Accordingly, reference has been made to the Kerala Education Act,

1958 and Chapter­VI of Rules framed thereunder which provides

that the primary source for determining date of birth is birth

certificate. It is submitted that even under the Right to Education

Act, the primary proof of age is the birth certificate and therefore,

primacy has to be accorded to birth certificate for determination of

correct date of birth and CBSE’s Byelaws must provide for bringing

their certificates in accord with such official or public documents.

35

47. In additional written submissions, the respondent has

answered this Court’s query as to what would be the relevant point

of time for determining the application of byelaws. It is submitted

that the relevant date would be the date of considering the

application i.e., the Byelaws in force at the time of considering the

application for recording correction/change. The date of

examination would be irrelevant for this purpose. Reliance has

been placed upon Somdev Kapoor vs. State of West Bengal &

Ors.23 and State of Kerala & Ors. vs. Palakkad Heritage

Hotels24 to advance the legal proposition that rules standing on the

date of final decision by the competent authority would be

applicable.

CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1828/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s).7385/2021
(@ Diary No. 18711/2020)

48. The challenge in this appeal is against the judgment dated

19.11.2019 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No.

2328/2019 confirming the order of learned Single Judge in W.P. (C)

23 (2014) 14 SCC 486
24 (2017) 13 SCC 672

36
No. 8465/2019 wherein the respondent student’s request for

change in date of birth was allowed. The case of the respondent is

that his date of birth was recorded as 16.4.1994 instead of

16.4.1995 in the school records. On the basis of the birth

certificate and other supporting documents, the respondent applied

for change in date of birth which was rejected by the appellant

Board citing the 2007 Examination Byelaws.

49. The High Court allowed the change on grounds similar to

those in the previous appeals. We are not repeating the same.

50. The submissions of the appellant Board are also similar to

those in previous appeals and there is no need to reiterate the

same.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1829/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 10959/2020)

51. The appellant Board has assailed the decision dated 3.7.2020

passed by D.B. Special Appeal Writ No. 450/2020 confirming the

order of learned Single Judge in W.P. (C) No. 8808/2019 allowing

the respondent student’s prayer for change of her father’s and

37
mother’s names in the certificates issued by the CBSE. Citing it as

an error, a request was made by the respondent for change of name

of father from “Vinod Mittal” to “Vinod Kumar Jain” and mother

from “Meenakshi Mittal” to “Meenakshi Agarwal”.

52. The High Court did not consider the permissibility of this

change under the applicable Byelaws (as amended in 2018) and

instead noted that no prejudice would be caused to the Board if the

said changes are allowed. It observed thus:

“It is noticed that in the writ petition, respondent seeks only
to amend the surname of her parents and not their names.
On a query by this Court from the counsel for the appellants
that on account of change of surname, what prejudice was
going to be caused to the appellants, he has failed to give any
response.”

53. The submissions advanced by the appellant are substantially

similar to those adopted in previous appeals. Non­applicability of

Byelaws, absence of any typographical error, consonance between

school record and certificates, and lapse of substantial time despite

knowing the alleged errors are primary submissions which form the

basis of this challenge. We are not elaborating upon the same to

avoid repetition.

38
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1830/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 10801/2020

54. The challenge in this appeal is against the judgment dated

4.6.2020 passed by the Kerala High Court in W.A. No. 697/2020

confirming the order of learned Single Judge in W.P. (C) No.

11791/2019, wherein the respondent student’s request for change

in date of birth was allowed in terms of the 2007 Byelaws, as

applicable. The respondent’s case was that her date of birth was

incorrectly recorded as 22.3.1990 instead of 21.6.1989. The High

Court allowed the prayer on grounds similar to those in appeals

arising from SLP (C) No(s). 7381/2021 (@ Diary No. 9445/2020),

SLP (C) No(s). 7382/2021 (@ Diary No. 9482/2020), SLP (C)

No(s). 7384/2021 (@ Diary No. 16291/2020) and SLP (C) No(s).

7385/2021 (@ Diary No. 18711/2020). We are not reiterating the

same.

55. Having gone through the appeal memo, we note that the

submissions are similar to those in previous appeals and we are not

repeating them.

39
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1831/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 10795/2020)

56. In this appeal, the challenge is against the decision dated

6.8.2020 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No. 987/2020

confirming the order of learned Single Judge in W.P.(C) No.

25663/2019, wherein the respondent student’s prayer for change of

name of his mother and father was allowed and accordingly, CBSE

was directed to modify the certificates.

57. Originally, the school records and CBSE certificates recorded

the father’s name as “Shaji” and mother’s name as “Jijimol”. These

names were in also in accordance with the old birth certificate of

the respondent dated 27.10.2002. As stated by the respondent,

they noticed this mistake for the first time in 2018 after CBSE

released the respondent’s Secondary School Examination certificate

on 29.5.2018. Thereafter, the respondent applied for issuance of

fresh birth certificate wherein father’s name was changed from

“Shaji” to “Shaji P.” and mother’s name from “Jijimol” to “Jijimol

S.”. It was issued on 27.10.2018 and in furtherance thereof, the

respondent applied to the appellant Board for changing the
40
certificates in light of the changed names. The Board refused that

request citing the Byelaws (as amended in 2018) and the matter

reached the High Court.

58. The grounds that weighed upon the High Court while granting

the prayer are substantially similar to those in civil appeals arising

from SLP (C) No(s). 7381/2021 (@ Diary No. 9445/2020), SLP (C)

No(s). 7382/2021 (@ Diary No. 9482/2020), SLP (C) No(s).

7384/2021 (@ Diary No. 16291/2020), SLP (C) No(s). 7385/2021 (@

Diary No. 18711/2020) and SLP (C) No. 10801/2020.

59. The grounds urged by the appellant are similar to those in

previous appeals and we are not reiterating the same.

60. The respondent has filed written submissions to submit that

the present case does not involve any delay in applying for change

of name as they took prompt action upon receiving the CBSE

certificates and realizing the defect, and applied for a new birth

certificate so that changes could be made at the earliest. It is also

submitted that it is not a case of change of name or correcting a

mistake in name per se. Rather, it is a case of merely including

initials of mother and father in their respective names in
41
accordance with a duly modified birth certificate which leaves no

question as regards the genuineness of record.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1832/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 10796/2020)

61. In this appeal, the appellant (Board) has challenged the

decision dated 19.12.2019 passed by the High Court of Kerala in

W.A. No. 2513/2019 confirming the decision of learned Single

Judge in W.P.(C) No. 14384/2019, wherein the respondent

student’s prayer for change of name from “Vaibhav R.” to “Vaibhav

D.” in certificates issued by the Board was allowed in terms of the

2007 Byelaws, as applicable.

62. The impugned judgment requires no discussion as it is

reasoned in similar terms, as already delineated above.

63. The grounds urged by the appellant have already been urged

in previous appeals and we need not repeat them.

42
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1833/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s). 7386/2021
(@ Diary No. 19181/2020)

64. The appellant Board herein has impugned the decision dated

8.11.2019 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No.

2207/2019 confirming the order of learned Single Judge in W.P. (C)

No. 10410/2019, wherein the respondent student’s prayer for

change in his date of birth was allowed on the basis of the birth

certificate issued by the appropriate authority in terms of the 2007

Byelaws, as applicable.

65. The impugned judgment requires no elaboration as it is

reasoned in similar terms, as already delineated above.

66. The grounds urged by the appellant have already been urged

in previous appeals and we need not repeat them.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1834/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 11320/2020)

67. The appellant (CBSE) has approached this Court for assailing

the decision dated 12.5.2020 passed by the High Court of Punjab &

Haryana at Chandigarh in R.S.A. No. 499/2020 declining to

43
interfere with the decision of the District Judge, Karnal who upheld

the decision of the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Judge), Assandh

in Civil Suit No. 204/2018 wherein, a declaratory relief was granted

in favour of the respondent student declaring his date of birth as

7.5.2004 instead of 15.2.2001, father’s name as “Joginder” instead

of “Joginder Singh” and mother’s name as “Darshan” instead of

“Darshan Devi” (as mentioned in the CBSE certificate). The

declaratory relief was coupled with a mandatory injunction

directing the appellant Board to effect necessary changes in the

certificates of the respondent.

68. The High Court referred to the birth certificate issued by the

authorities under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969

and noted that correctness of the certificate is not under dispute

and thus, the information recorded in the certificate cannot be

questioned. It observed thus:

“As far as correctness of the certificate issued by the
authorities under the 1969 Act, identity of the plaintiff as
also correctness in the names of his parents are not
disputed.”

Noting thus, the High Court declined to interfere with the

concurrent findings of fact by the two Courts below.

44

69. In addition to the grounds already advanced by the Board in

light of the applicable Byelaws (as amended in 2018), it is

submitted that the relief of declaration and mandatory injunction

could not have been granted by the Court due to non­joinder of

necessary parties in the case. It is submitted that Registrar of

Births and Deaths (owing to change in date of birth) and the

concerned school (owing to changes in their records) were necessary

parties in the case and ought to have been joined. It is urged that

the non­joinder would be fatal.

70. It is further submitted that the respondent’s claim was barred

by the principle of estoppel as he was mandatorily required to

submit his birth certificate in school at the time of admission as per

Byelaw 6 of the Examination Byelaws, 1995 so that the school

record could be in consonance with the birth certificate. Since the

respondent failed to produce the same at the time of admission, it is

urged, the school record carried the information voluntarily

supplied in the admission form and no change can be permitted at

this stage.

45

71. The respondent has further submitted that the relief of

mandatory injunction was barred due to Sections 41(g) and 41(i) of

the Specific Relief Act, 1963 which specifically provide that no such

relief could be provided if the plaintiff when he/she has acquiesced

of rights. In the instant case, it is stated, the respondent failed to

apply for change in date of birth for 15 years, despite there being a

long gap of three years between the recorded date and modified

date, and such conduct must bar any such relief.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1835/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 11558/2020)

72. The appellant Board has approached this Court in appeal

against the judgment dated 29.7.2020 passed by the High Court of

Kerala in W.A. No. 724/2020 confirming the order of learned Single

Judge in W.P. No. 24214/2019, wherein the respondent student’s

prayer for change in date of birth from 30.5.1992 to 23.7.1991 was

granted and original record was held to have recorded an incorrect

date. For reaching this conclusion, reliance was placed by the High

Court upon a subsequently obtained birth certificate.

46

73. The impugned judgment requires no discussion as it is

reasoned in similar terms, as already delineated above.

74. The appellant has placed reliance upon the Byelaws (existing

before 2007) to assail the decision. The grounds urged by the

appellant have already been urged in previous appeals and we need

not repeat them.

CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1836/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s). 7387/2021
(@ Diary No. 21923/2020)

75. The present appeal involves a challenge against the judgment

dated 13.11.2019 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No.

2267/2019 confirming the order of learned Single Judge in W.P.(C)

No. 8034/2019, wherein the respondent student’s prayer for

change of name from “Ganga” to “Ganga S” and father’s name from

“Rajendran C” to “Rajendran Pillai C” was allowed in terms of the

Byelaws (as amended in 2018).

76. The impugned judgment requires no discussion as it is

reasoned in similar terms, as already delineated above.

47

77. The grounds urged by the appellant have already been urged

in previous appeals and we need not repeat them.

CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1837/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No(s). 7388/2021
(@ Diary No. 25053/2020)

78. In this appeal, the appellant (Board) has assailed the judgment

dated 26.11.2019 passed by the High Court of Judicature at

Madras in W.A. No. 4077/2019 affirming the order of learned Single

Judge with slight modification. The respondent student had prayed

for change of his father’s name from “Fazal Rehmaan” to “Shaik

Fazul Rahiman” which was permitted by the learned Single Judge.

In writ appeal before the High Court, the learned counsel for the

Board, citing the applicable Byelaws (as amended in 2018),

submitted that appropriate precautions ought to be taken while

issuing such directions for change of name as there is a possibility

of misuse. The High Court observed that such corrections must

not be permitted for ulterior or extraneous reasons. In order to

prevent such possibility, the Board was permitted to obtain an

affidavit in the nature of indemnity against any such exigency. It

observed thus:

48

“2. We find that the request made by the learned counsel to
that extent is appreciable, inasmuch as a person should not
be allowed to carry out corrections if the same is for any
ulterior motive or for any extraneous considerations that may
have itself roots either in any form of impersonation arising
out of any civil or criminal activity. In this regard, it will be
open to the appellant Board to obtain an affidavit from the
candidate in the nature of indemnity against any such
exigency as referred to above and correction be carried out
subject to such conditions as may be necessary.”

79. As regards cases wherein the request for change of name is

bona fide and there is no scope for prejudice, the decision of learned

Single Judge directing such changes was held to be correct. The

Court observed thus:

“3. On the other hand, we find that if correction has been
genuinely and bona fide sought and no prejudice is caused,
then in that event the conclusion arrived at by the learned
Single Judge cannot be said to suffer from any infirmity.”

80. The grounds urged by the appellant herein (CBSE) have since

been adverted to and require no reiteration.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1838/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 15089/2020)

81. The challenge in this appeal is against the judgment dated

25.9.2020 passed in W.A. No. 1102/2020 affirming the order of

learned Single Judge wherein the respondent student’s prayer for

change in date of birth from 17.1.1992 to 17.1.1991 was allowed

49
upon payment of cost of Rs.1000 to the school authority and

Rs.5000 to the Board. Like previous cases, the prayer was granted

on the basis of a subsequently obtained birth certificate and in light

of the applicable 2007 Byelaws.

82. The impugned judgment requires no discussion as it is

reasoned in similar terms, as already delineated above.

83. The grounds urged by the appellant have also been urged in

previous appeals and we need not repeat them.

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1839/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 15124/2020)

84. This appeal involves a challenge to the judgment dated

25.9.2020 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No.

1037/2020 affirming the order of learned Single Judge, wherein the

respondent student’s prayer for change in date of birth in the

certificates issued by the Board was allowed upon payment of

certain costs to the school and the Board. Reliance was again

placed upon a subsequently obtained birth certificate for ordering

the said changes and on the applicable 2007 Byelaws.

50

85. The impugned judgment requires no discussion as it is

reasoned in similar terms, as already delineated above.

86. The grounds urged by the appellant have also been urged in

previous appeals and we need not repeat them.

CIVIL APPEAL NO.1840/2021
(arising out of SLP (C) No. 15625/2020)

87. The challenge in this appeal is against the judgment dated

7.9.2020 passed by the High Court of Kerala in W.A. No.

1155/2020 confirming the order of learned Single Judge, wherein

the respondent student’s prayer for change of his father’s name

from “Hashim Abdulla” to “Hashim A.” and mother’s name from

“Shahina Duneera” to “Shahina Beegum D.S.” was allowed in terms

of the applicable Byelaws (as amended in 2018).

88. In the facts of the case, the respondent obtained the certificate

issued by the Board on 29.5.2018 after passing the Secondary

School Examination, 2018 wherein the names of his parents were

recorded in accordance with the school records and old birth

certificate. Contrary to the names in these documents, the names of

51
father and mother of the respondent were recorded as “Hashim A.”

and “Shahina Beegum D.S.” respectively in their school leaving

certificates. In light of this conflict, the respondent applied to the

Registering Authority for issue of a corrected birth certificate under

Section­15 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 read

with Rule­11 of the Kerala Registration of Births and Deaths Rules,

1999. The High Court permitted the changes in accordance with

this subsequently obtained birth certificate.

89. The impugned judgment requires no discussion as it is

reasoned in similar terms, as already delineated above.

90. The grounds urged by the appellant have also been urged in

previous appeals and we need not repeat them.

91. Apart from grounds already advanced in previous cases, the

respondents have advanced certain additional grounds in support

of the impugned decision. It is submitted that the CBSE has no

jurisdiction or power to deny correction of records belonging to a

student after due changes by competent public authorities and

acceptance of the same by school. It is further submitted that

CBSE is a society and its Byelaws cannot be treated as equivalent
52
to a law made by a competent legislature. Thus, they cannot be

invoked to deny the fundamental rights of the students much less

being reasonable restriction.

92. The respondents have further questioned the vires of the

Byelaws on the ground that the government resolution providing for

the power to frame Byelaws does not permit the Board to impose

such conditions for denying corrections in certificates. Relying

upon Sections 76 and 77 of the 1872 Act, it is lastly submitted that

the certified copies of public records are duly admissible and the

Board ought to ensure that their certificates are corrected in light of

such updated public records.

T.P. (C) NOS. 1139­1140 OF 2020

93. The petitioner (CBSE) herein seeks a direction from this Court

to withdraw before itself two proceedings, namely – W.P. (C) No.

5828/2016 pending before the Jharkhand High Court and L.P.A.

No. 423/2020 pending before the High Court of Punjab & Haryana

at Chandigarh, as similar questions are involved in these

proceedings.

53

94. The former proceeding before the Jharkhand High Court is for

change of name of the student from “Saddam Hussain” to “Sajid

Hussain” on the basis of changes effected in Official Gazette,

Passport, Aadhar card, Driving License and PAN card. The

proceeding before the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at

Chandigarh is against the decision of learned Single Judge in CWP

No. 21388/2018, wherein the student’s prayer for change of name

in the certificates issued by the Board from “Satish Kumar s/o

Rampal” to “Shrey s/0 Rampal” was allowed on the basis of public

notices in two local newspapers, official gazette notification

notifying change of name, Aadhar card and PAN card.

95. The Board submits that it is already contesting multiple cases

before this Court in which similar questions touching upon the

power of Courts to issue directions for changing particulars in

CBSE certificates is being examined, despite there being a clear

prohibition against the same in the Examination Byelaws. The

Board submits that identical arguments are required to be

advanced by it at multiple forums and it is causing grave harm to it

including in passing of conflicting directions.

54

96. Respondent No. 6 (Satish Kumar @Shrey) has filed “Note on

submissions” wherein various grounds have been advanced to

question the prohibitory Byelaws of the Board and support the case

for permitting genuine changes in certificates. It has been

submitted that the Byelaws are not statutory in nature and thus,

they cannot be made as “law” within the meaning of Article 19(2) of

the Constitution and cannot be the basis to deprive the students of

their fundamental right to express their identity under Article 19(1)

(a). Reliance has been placed upon Kabir Jaiswal vs. Union of

India & Ors.25 to support this position.

97. It is then submitted that there is a conflict between Kalpana

Thakur & Anr. vs. Central Board of Secondary Education &

Anr.26 and Vyshnav @ Vishnu Viswam V. vs. Central Board of

Secondary Education & Ors.27 as regards the relevant point of

time for determining the applicability of Byelaws, as amended from

time to time. Supporting the view taken in Vyshnav28, it is urged

25 2020 SCC OnLine All 1488
26 2015 SCC OnLine Del 12156
27 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 39806
28 supra at Footnote No.27

55
that the relevant point of time ought to be the date of issuance of

certificate.

98. Having gone through the elaborate set of submissions and

documents on record in the respective matter, the following broad

points emerge for our consideration:

(i) Whether the CBSE Examination Byelaws have the force of

law?

(ii) Whether examination byelaws impose reasonable restrictions

on the exercise of rights under Article 19 of the Constitution

including fail the test of rationality for excessively restricting

the scope of permissible corrections/changes?

(iii) Whether the Board is obliged to carry out corrections/changes

in the certificates issued by it owing to correction/updation of

public records/documents which have statutory presumption

of genuineness?

(iv) Whether the examination byelaws in force on the date of

examination conducted by CBSE or the date of consideration

of the application for recording correction/change would be

56
relevant? And, whether the effect of correction or change, as

the case may be, will have retrospective effect from the date of

issue of the original certificate?

(v) Whether writ of mandamus issued for effecting corrections in

CBSE certificates can be in the teeth of explicit provisions in

the examination byelaws, without examining validity of the

byelaws?

Point No. 1

99. Indubitably, the CBSE Board came to be established vide

Government of India resolution dated 1.7.1929 with a view to

“enable it to play a useful role in the field of Secondary Education”

and “make the services of the Board available to various

educational institutions in the country”, as stated in the

Constitution of the Board. Article 929 of the said Constitution deals

with the “Powers and Functions of the Board”, which include to do

all such things as may be necessary for furthering the objectives of

29 “9. The Board shall have the following powers: ­
xxx xxx xxx
(xvi) To do all such or other things as may be necessary in order to further the
objectives of the Board as a body constituted for regulating and maintaining the
standard of secondary education.”

57
the Board. One of the functions or so to say power of the Board is

to make regulations for giving effect to the afore­stated resolution as

predicated in Article 1630 of the Constitution. Clause (2) thereof

envisages that the Regulation so framed may provide for conditions

for issuing certificates for examination conducted by the Board. We

may also take note of Article 18 31 of the Constitution of the Board,

which makes it amply clear that the byelaws to be framed by the

Board ought to be consistent with and subservient to the

Regulations and the Resolution establishing the Board. This Article

also indicates that byelaws may be made for the purposes referred

to in clauses (a) to (c) pertaining to procedural aspects.

Indisputably, the constitution/organisation or structure of CBSE is

30 “16.POWERS OF THE BOARD TO MAKE REGULATIONS
xxx xxx xxx
(2) In particular and without prejudice to any generality of the foregoing powers, the
Board may make Regulations for all or any of the following matters, namely:

…..

(f) The conditions for the award of certificates of the Board;”

31 “18. The Board and its Committees may make Bye­laws, consistent with this
Resolution and the Regulations, for the following purposes, namely:

(a) Laying down the procedure to be observed at their meetings and the number of
members required to form a quorum;

(b) Providing for all matters which, consistent with this Resolution and the
Regulations, are to be prescribed by Bye­laws; and

(c) Providing for all other matters solely concerning the Board and its Committees
and not provided for by the Resolution and the Regulations.”

58
not backed by a statute. It is, therefore, a misnomer to characterise

byelaws framed by the Board as statutory.

100. The real question is: whether byelaws so framed have the force

of law?

101. To have the force of law, it must qualify the test predicated in

Article 13 of the Constitution, else it would be mere contractual

terms of engagement. For the nature of activities undertaken by

the Board including the powers and functions of the Board, it can

be safely assumed that the Board is a State within the meaning of

Article 12 of the Constitution of India and as a corollary thereof, its

actions would be amenable to Part­III of the Constitution of India.

The fact that the Board can be treated as a State within the

meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution does not mean that the

byelaws framed by it would necessarily become law within the

meaning of Article 13 of the Constitution of India. Only a “law”

under Article 13 can be reckoned as a restriction in respect of rights

guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

102. Before we proceed to analyse any further, it would be apposite

to reproduce Article 13 of the Constitution of India to answer the
59
point under consideration. Article 13 of the Constitution reads

thus:­

“13. Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the
fundamental rights.— (1) All laws in force in the territory of
India immediately before the commencement of this
Constitution, in so far as they are inconsistent with the
provisions of this Part, shall, to the extent of such
inconsistency, be void.

(2) The State shall not make any law which takes away or
abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in
contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the
contravention, be void.

(3) In this article, unless the context otherwise requires, —

(a) “law” includes any Ordinance, order, bye­law, rule,
regulation, notification, custom or usage having in the
territory of India the force of law;

(b) “laws in force” includes laws passed or made by a
Legislature or other competent authority in the territory of
India before the commencement of this Constitution and
not previously repealed, notwithstanding that any such
law or any part thereof may not be then in operation either
at all or in particular areas.

(4) Nothing in this article shall apply to any amendment of this
Constitution made under article 368.”
(emphasis supplied)

103. The tenor of Article 13 clearly suggests that it was not enacted

to restate the obvious proposition that all statutory laws are “laws”

in any legal system. For, it requires no restatement that laws

enacted by the legislature are “laws”. The underlying purpose of

60
defining “law” under Article 13 is to encompass a practical

administrative reality that there can be laws other than ordinary

statutory laws. It, therefore, takes within its sweep those matters

(declaration in the form of Byelaws in this case) as having the “force

of law” albeit not enacted by the legislature as such.

104. For, it defines “law” to include ordinances, orders, byelaws,

rule, regulation or notification issued/made by the State. The

precise meanings of these terms cannot be confined in the rigidity

of language and the same is neither desirable nor required in the

present case.

105. The examination revolves around the expression “having in

the territory of India the force of law”, irrespective of the

packaging in which the said provision is formally couched. The text

impels us to focus on the substance of the provision, and not its

form. Broadly speaking, law made by State refers to a body of rules

which shapes the rights and liabilities of persons in a universal

sense as opposed to a private transaction between parties. Such law

has the ability to bind people by providing for all prominent aspects

of their conduct as the subjects of law. Therefore, any
61
rule/notification/order/byelaw issued/made by the State or its

instrumentalities would have the force of law and bind all entities

subjected to it and operates as a code of conduct to regulate their

functioning. Yet another crucial characteristic would be

enforceability in a court of law. Needless to observe, we are not

talking about binding codes or set of rules decided by parties for

themselves as they fall under the realm of law of contract. We are

dealing with rules which flow from the instrumentality of the “State”

during the performance of essential public functions.

106. CBSE, despite being packaged as a registered society, is

performing an essential public function for the government since its

establishment in 1929. In Binny Ltd. & Anr. vs. V. Sadasivan &

Ors.32, this Court laid down certain characteristics of public

functions thus:

“11. …It is difficult to draw a line between public functions
and private functions when they are being discharged by a
purely private authority. A body is performing a “public
function” when it seeks to achieve some collective benefit for
the public or a section of the public and is accepted by the
public or that section of the public as having authority to do
so. Bodies therefore exercise public functions when they
intervene or participate in social or economic affairs in the
public interest. In a book on Judicial Review of Administrative

32 (2005) 6 SCC 657

62
Action (5th Edn.) by de Smith, Woolf & Jowell in Chapter 3,
para 0.24, it is stated thus:

“A body is performing a ‘public function’ when it
seeks to achieve some collective benefit for the public
or a section of the public and is accepted by the
public or that section of the public as having
authority to do so. Bodies therefore exercise public
functions when they intervene or participate in social or
economic affairs in the public interest. This may happen
in a wide variety of ways. For instance, a body is
performing a public function when it provides ‘public
goods’ or other collective services, such as health care,
education and personal social services, from funds raised
by taxation. A body may perform public functions in the
form of adjudicatory services (such as those of the
criminal and civil courts and tribunal system). They also
do so if they regulate commercial and professional
activities to ensure compliance with proper standards.
For all these purposes, a range of legal and administrative
techniques may be deployed, including rule­making,
adjudication (and other forms of dispute resolution);
inspection; and licensing.

Public functions need not be the exclusive domain of
the State. Charities, self­regulatory organizations and
other nominally private institutions (such as universities,
the Stock Exchange, Lloyd’s of London, churches) may in
reality also perform some types of public function. As Sir
John Donaldson, M.R. urged, it is important for the
courts to ‘recognise the realities of executive power’
and not allow ‘their vision to be clouded by the
subtlety and sometimes complexity of the way in
which it can be exerted’. Non­governmental bodies such
as these are just as capable of abusing their powers as is
Government.””

(emphasis supplied)

The principles associated with a public function deducible from the

above analysis can be illustratively culled out as follows:

63

a. Extension of collective benefit to public by a public
authority;

b. Participation in social or economic affairs including
health, education, social services etc.;

c. Private bodies or charitable institutions performing
public functions could also be regulated in the same
manner as a public authority.

In the school education structure as we have it, there are state

government boards limited to respective states. There are central

boards having its area of operation throughout India, namely,

Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE), a

private board; International Baccalaureate (IB), formerly known as

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) a non­profit

foundation/organization having headquarter in Geneva,

Switzerland; and CBSE.

107. CBSE is the only central body for conducting examinations in

the country created by a resolution of the Central Government. All

the bodies constituted at various levels are working in the direction

of just educational governance. Article 41 of the Constitution,

couched as a directive, is the source behind the basic functioning of

64
the CBSE Board as it secures nothing but right to education. It is

participating in educational affairs which form an intrinsic part of

social affairs. The CBSE Board is a public authority functioning in

public interest for the performance of a public function.

108. We may gainfully refer to the Constitution of the Board which

reaffirms the public character of the Board as the ultimate control

over the functioning of the Board is exercised by the Ministry of

Education (now Ministry of Education & Social Welfare) 33. Article 1

states that:

“1. The Board shall conduct examinations at the secondary
stage of the education and such other examinations as it may
consider fit, subject to the approval of the Controlling
Authority or as it may be called upon to conduct by the
Government of India, Ministry of Education, (now Ministry of
Education & Social Welfare) and do such acts ancillary to the
objects as may be necessary.”

Article 4 further reads thus:

“4. The Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of
Education (now Ministry of Education and Social Welfare)
shall continue to be the Controlling Authority of the Board.”

109. Reverting to the CBSE Examination Byelaws, the same are

couched in the form of a code. They provide for all essential

aspects relating to formal education of a student including
33 Now known as “Ministry of Human Resource Development”

65
admission, examination, migration, transfer, curriculum, fee for

various services, issuance of verified certificates, modifications in

certificates etc. This Byelaws, therefore, bind the parties and are

duly enforceable in a court of law, even by way of writ remedies as

we have seen in the present batch of petitions.

110. To put it differently, the Byelaws of the Board have the force of

law and must be regarded as such for all legal purposes. It would

serve no meaningful purpose to hold these authoritative set of rules

originating from an instrumentality of the State as mere contractual

terms despite there being overwhelming public interest in their just

application.

111. The argument that Byelaws of the Board are contractual

elements as CBSE is a registered society unbacked by a statute

cannot be accepted for at least four reasons – first, CBSE is not a

private corporate body. It is a juristic person and a “State” within

the meaning of Article 12, which in itself warrants its amenability to

the courts including constitutional writ courts; second, the

functions performed by the CBSE Board are public functions and

not private functions; third, the test of “force of law” takes within its

66
sweep the nature of rule, its authoritative impact on the subjects,

nature of function performed by the rule making body, the origin of

the body, the binding value of the rules, existence of any competing

set of rules and fourth, absence of statute does not automatically

render the rules to be contractual terms, as already observed.

112. As in the ultimate analysis, the Byelaws operate as law, the

scrutiny of this Court cannot be undermined by giving them an

artificial colour. For a student enrolled with the CBSE, there is no

other body of rules but the subject Byelaws for dealing with all

significant aspects of her education. By now it is an established

tenet that even body corporates, co­operative societies, registered

societies etc. can be declared as instrumentalities of the State, for

the only reason that the outer form of organization must not be

allowed to defeat the ultimate constitutional goal of protection of

fundamental rights as and when they suffer at the hands of the

State, directly or indirectly. The Court ought to intervene with

circumspection even when the public body derives its authority

from a government resolution.

67

113. We say so because there is an evolving body of jurisprudence

enunciating that the principle of presumption of constitutionality

attached with statutes ought not to be extended to subordinate

legislations with the same vigour. For, the legislature enjoys the

sacred backing of people’s will and naturally, every act of legislature

is presumed to be constitutional. In other words, the Courts

generally do not look upon duly enacted laws with suspicion at the

first glance as they enjoy legal presumption of its validity.

Nevertheless, circumspect intervention on the part of the Court is to

advance constitutional protection for guarantees under Part­III of

the Constitution.

114. Arguendo, the Examination Byelaws are not “law” under

Article 13, it would not affect the power of the Court to scrutinize

them in reference to Part­III of the Constitution of India as CBSE is

“State” within the meaning of Article 12 and all its actions are

consequently subject to Part­III.

68
Point No. 2

115. The question whether Byelaws under consideration impose

reasonable restrictions on the exercise of rights under Article 19 of

the Constitution of India, may have to be understood in the context

of enunciation of this Court that the core existence of an individual

is not exemplified by her outer characteristics but by her inner self­

identification and also about the significance of the acquired

identity in the form of name. The identity of an individual is one of

the most closely guarded areas of the constitutional scheme in

India. The sanctity of identity has been recognized by this Court in

a plethora of cases including National Legal Services Authority

vs. Union of India & Ors.34, Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. vs.

Union of India through Secretary, Ministry of Law and

Justice35 and K.S. Puttaswamy and Anr. vs. Union of India &

Ors36. In fact, in Navtej Singh Johar37, the Court noted how the

core existence of an individual is not exemplified by her outer

characteristics but by her inner self­identification. In the context of

34 (2014) 5 SCC 438
35 (2018) 10 SCC 1
36 (2017) 10 SCC 1
37 supra at Footnote No.35

69
natural identity of an individual, this Court in Navtej Singh

Johar38 had noted that:

“5. The natural identity of an individual should be treated to
be absolutely essential to his being. What nature gives is
natural. That is called nature within. Thus, that part of the
personality of a person has to be respected and not despised
or looked down upon. The said inherent nature and the
associated natural impulses in that regard are to be accepted.
Non­acceptance of it by any societal norm or notion and
punishment by law on some obsolete idea and idealism affects
the kernel of the identity of an individual. Destruction of
individual identity would tantamount to crushing of
intrinsic dignity that cumulatively encapsulates the
values of privacy, choice, freedom of speech and other
expressions. It can be viewed from another angle. An
individual in exercise of his choice may feel that he/she
should be left alone but no one, and we mean, no one, should
impose solitude on him/her.”
(emphasis supplied)

116. Identity, therefore, is an amalgam of various internal and

external including acquired characteristics of an individual and

name can be regarded as one of the foremost indicators of identity.

And therefore, an individual must be in complete control of her

name and law must enable her to retain as well as to exercise such

control freely “for all times”. Such control would inevitably include

the aspiration of an individual to be recognized by a different name

for a just cause. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution provides for a
38 supra at Footnote No.35

70
guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression. In light of

Navtej Singh Johar39, this freedom would include the freedom to

lawfully express one’s identity in the manner of their liking. In other

words, expression of identity is a protected element of freedom of

expression under the Constitution.

117. Having recognized the existence of this right, the essential

question pertains to the rights that flow due to the change of name.

The question becomes vital because identity, as stated above, is a

combination of diverse set of elements. Navtej Singh Johar40 dealt

with “natural identity” and here we are dealing with name, which

can only be perceived as an ‘acquired identity’. Therefore, the

precise scope of right and extent of restrictions could only be

determined upon deeper examination.

118. To begin with, it is important to explain what we understand

by this right to change of name as a constituent element of freedom

of expression of identity. Any change in identity of an individual

has to go through multiple steps and it cannot be regarded as

complete without proper fulfilment of those steps. An individual
39 supra at Footnote No.35
40supra at Footnote No.35

71
may self­identify oneself with any title or epithet at any point of

time. But the change of identity would not be regarded as formally

or legally complete until and unless the State and its agencies take

note thereof in their records. Afterall, in social sphere, an

individual is not only recognized by how an individual identifies

oneself but also by how his/her official records identify him/her.

For, in every public transaction of an individual, official records

introduce the person by his/her name and other relevant

particulars.

119. Thus, the essential question is whether the aforesaid right to

alter name would mean that the State and its agencies are

unconditionally bound to reckon the changed identity of the

individual and give recognition to the same by altering its records,

whenever such request is made by him/her.

120. Going by the very nature of rights under Article 19, the right

to get changed name recorded in the official (public) records cannot

be an absolute right and as a matter of public policy and larger

public interest calls for certain reasonable restrictions to observe

consistency and obviate confusion and deceptive attempt.

72

121. We may now examine whether CBSE Byelaws are just and

reasonable restrictions in the context of rights guaranteed under

Part­III and in the interests of the general public.

122. The test of reasonableness requires that the impugned law is

intelligently crafted in such a manner that it is able to justify the

ultimate impact of the law on its subjects. If it restricts, it must

restrict on the basis of reason and if it permits, it must permit on

the basis of reason. Similarly, if a law draws a classification, it

must classify intelligently i.e., backed by reason. Reason is the

foundation of all laws and their validity is immensely dependent on

the availability of sound reason. Equally crucial is the availability

of a legitimate object. It is important to note that reasonableness is

adjudged in the specific context of the case and is not confined to

the words of a definition. In Om Prakash & Ors. vs. State of U.P.

& Ors.41, this Court noted thus:

“32. The concept of “reasonableness” defies definition.
Abstract definition like “choice of a course which reason
dictates” as propounded in the earliest case of this Court in
Chintamanrao42 is elastic. In the subsequent case of V.G.

Row43 therefore, this Court has observed that “no abstract

41 (2004) 3 SCC 402
42 Chintamanrao vs. State of M.P., AIR 1951 SC 118
43 The State of Madras vs. V.G. Row, AIR 1952 SC 196

73
standard or general pattern” of reasonableness can be laid
down as applicable to all cases. Legal author Friedmann in his
book Legal Theory, 4th Edn., at pp. 83­85, comments that
reasonableness is an expression used to convey basically the
natural law ideal of “justice between man and man”. The
concept of “reasonable man” is also an application of the
principles of natural justice to the standard of behaviour
expected of the citizen. The functional and conceptual
implication of the term “reasonableness” is that it is
essentially another word used for public policy. It means the
application of the underlying principles of social policy and
morality to an individual case. Friedmann further observes
that the “test of reasonableness is nothing substantially
different from ‘social engineering’, ‘balancing of interests’, or
any of the other formulas which modern sociological theories
suggest as an answer to the problem of the judicial function”.”

In V.G. Row44, the Court, noting that there can be no general

pattern of reasonableness, laid down certain factors to be kept in

mind while determining this question thus:

“(15) …It is important in this context to bear in mind that the
test of reasonableness, wherever prescribed, should be
applied to each individual statute impugned, and no abstract
standard, or general pattern of reasonableness can be laid
down as applicable to all cases. The nature of the right
alleged to have been infringed, the underlying purpose
of the restrictions imposed, the extent and urgency of
the evil sought to be remedied thereby, the disproportion
of the imposition, the prevailing conditions at the time,
should all enter into the judicial verdict. …”
(emphasis supplied)

123. As noted above, the Byelaws permit change of name only if

permission from the Court has been obtained prior to the

44 supra at Footnote No.43

74
publication of result. It puts a clear embargo on any change of

name sans prior permission before the publication. The provision

is problematic on certain counts. Firstly, it is not a mere restriction

on the right, it is a complete embargo on the right post publication

of result of the candidate. It fails to take into account the

possibility of need for change of name after the publication of result

including the uncertainty of timeline required to obtain such

declaration from the Court of law due to law’s delay and upon

which the candidate has no control whatsoever. Whereas, while

amending the Byelaws in 2007, the CBSE itself had noted that

children are not of mature age while passing school examinations

and they may not be in a position to decide conclusively on issues

concerning their identity. The Byelaws completely overlook this

possibility when it ordains seeking declaration from the Court prior

to the publication of results of the concerned examination

conducted by it.

124. The overriding state interest, as per the Board, to retain this

stringency is nothing but efficiency of administration.

Administrative efficiency, despite being a crucial concern, has not

75
been and cannot be elevated to a standard that it is used to justify

non­performance of essential functions by an instrumentality of the

State. To use administrative efficiency to make it practically

impossible for a student to alter her identity in the Board

certificates, no matter how urgent and important it is, would be

highly disproportionate and can in no manner be termed as a

reasonable restriction. Reasonableness would demand a proper

balance between a student’s right to be identified in the official

(public) records in manner of her choice and the Board’s argument

of administrative efficiency. To sustain this balance, it would be

open to the Board to limit the number of times such alterations

could be permitted including subject to availability of the old

records preserved by it as per the extant regulations. But to say

that post the publication of examination results and issuance of

certificates, there can be no way to alter the record would be a case

of total prohibition and not a reasonable restraint.

125. The limitation as regards maximum period upto which

changes can be permitted also requires a different approach. Upon

receiving the certificates, the student would naturally be put to

76
notice of the particulars of certificates. Due to young age and

inadvertence including being casual and indolent, a student may

fail to identify the errors or to understand the probable impact of

those errors and accordingly, may not apply for rectification

immediately. It is also possible that a student may not have to use

the certificates immediately after passing out and by the time she

uses them, the limitation period for correction may elapse.

Therefore, a realistic time for permitting corrections is very

important. Indeed, it can be commensurate with the statutory or

mandatory period upto which CBSE is obliged to preserve its old

record.

126. However, we need not explore upon the question as to whether

the exercise of a fundamental right can be foreclosed by prescribing

a rigid period of limitation. In case of any ordinary civil rights, it is

important that the action for enforcement of such rights is initiated

in prescribed time and consistency is maintained, but is it

permissible to say the same about fundamental rights? The rights

which are recognised as fundamental under the Constitution are

“preferred or chosen freedoms” and a very sensitive and realistic

77
approach has to be taken in such matters. We wonder whether

after the lapse of prescribed time, let us say 3 years, there could be

no reasonable and legitimate circumstances to warrant change of

name.

127. At the same time, there is merit in CBSE’s argument that

frequent changes cannot be permitted as there is scope of abuse

and misuse, apart from administrative burden. This argument

cannot be lightly brushed aside. We deem it fit to observe that

same concerns could apply to other bodies as well, like Unique

Identification Authority of India45 and Passport Authority.

128. As regards the argument of misuse, no doubt, there are

instances of misuse of provisions that permit change of identity in

criminal matters. However, mere possibility of abuse cannot deter

the Board from fulfilling their essential functions. A possibility of

abuse cannot be used to deny legitimate rights to citizens. The

balance simply does not tilt in favour of such a proposition. The

course of law cannot choose to change its stream merely because

there are apprehensions of abuse on the way. The Board’s concern

45 for short, “UIDAI”

78
is only to regulate and maintain efficient educational standards. It

is not a penal authority. If any of the provisions of Byelaws are

subjected to misuse or abuse by anyone, the Board would be well

within its rights to approach the appropriate body for necessary

penal or civil action. As a nodal agency made for a specific public

purpose, CBSE can only use its means and resources to put proper

safeguards in place while performing its functions. More so, when

it is not even the job of the Board to verify anything, as changes are

made after grant of permission by a Court of law. There is

involvement of judicial application of mind. The Board only has to

give effect to the Court order granting permission, as and when it is

so pronounced irrespective of publication of examination results in

earlier point of time.

129. Administrative efficiency, we must note, cannot be the sole

concern of CBSE. Every institution desires efficiency in their

functioning. But it does not mean that efficiency is achieved by

curbing their basic functions. Article 9 of CBSE’s Constitution, in

point (xvi), instructively states that CBSE is a body constituted for

79
“regulating and maintaining” the standard of secondary education.

The same is reproduced again for ready reference:

“9. The Board shall have the following powers:­
xxx xxx xxx

(xvi) To do all such or other things as may be necessary in
order to further the objectives of the Board as a body
constituted for regulating and maintaining the standard
of secondary education.”
(emphasis supplied)

The terms “regulation” and “maintenance” are terms of very wide

import and signify that the functioning of the Board is not narrowed

down in any manner whatsoever. Regulation of standard of

education would empower the Board to take all necessary steps, as

permissible under the Resolution and Regulations, to control all

possible aspects of school education that may have a bearing on its

standard. Quality of curriculum, services extended to the students,

effective grievance redressal mechanism, oversight over affiliated

schools etc. are some of the essential elements touching upon the

standard of education. Maintenance of those standards would

demand constant upgradation of rules and services of the Board in

tune with changing needs of the students and the ultimate goal of

education.

80

130. One of the primary functions of the Board is to grant

certificates to its students. Effective maintenance and regulation of

standard of education would include complete accountability of the

Board in grant of such certificates and its duty does not get

extinguished after publication of examination results and issue of

certificates. Rather, it extends to taking care of post­publication

concerns of students as and when they emerge, as students seek to

use their certificates for purposes of higher education and career

opportunities. A narrow reading of the functions of the Board

would leave glaring gaps in the field of school education and may

jeopardize the welfare of students with legitimate concerns.

131. The concerned Byelaw has been framed on the assumption

that there can be no situation wherein a legitimate need for change

of name could arise for a student after publication of results. It is

presumed that only typographical/factual errors could come in the

certificates and they can be corrected using the provision for

corrections. The presumption, we must note, is erroneous, absurd

and distances itself from the social realities. There can be

numerous circumstances wherein change of name could be a

81
legitimate requirement and keeping the ultimate goal of preserving

the standard of education in mind, the Board must provide for a

reasonable opportunity to effect such changes.

132. It would not be out of place to note that the two parties here –

the Board and students – are not in an equal position of impact. In

other words, the balance of convenience would tilt in favour of

students. For, they stand to lose more due to inaccuracies in their

certificates than the Board whose sole worry is increasing

administrative burden. The obligation of Board to take additional

administrative burden is no doubt onerous but the propensity of a

student losing career opportunities due to inaccurate certificate is

unparalleled. Illustratively, a juvenile accused of being in conflict

with the law or a victim of sexual abuse whose identity gets

compromised due to lapses by media or the investigative body,

despite there being complete legal protection for the same, may

consider changing the name to seek rehabilitation in the society in

exercise of her right to be forgotten. If the Board, in such a case,

refuses to change the name, the student would be compelled to live

with the scars of the past. We are compelled to wonder how it

82
would not be a grave and sustained violation of fundamental rights

of the student. In such circumstances, the avowed public interest

in securing rehabilitation of affected persons would overwhelm the

Board’s interest in securing administrative efficiency. In fact, it

would be against the human dignity of the student, the protection

whereof is the highest duty of all concerned. A Board dealing with

maintenance of educational standards cannot arrogate to itself the

power to impact identity of students who enrol with it. The right to

control one’s identity must remain with the individual, subject, of

course, to reasonable restrictions as observed above and as further

discussed later.

133. The utility of certificates issued by the Board is not confined to

educational purposes anymore. They serve a social purpose today

and are often used to cross verify particulars like name and date of

birth while applying for other government identity documents. They

assume immense relevance while applying for various jobs, both

public and private. Interestingly, CBSE itself has argued at length

on the importance and authoritative value of their certificates. In

such circumstances, an inaccuracy or denial of change could be

83
fatal to a student’s future prospects and all these concerns cannot

be brushed aside in the name of administrative exigencies.

134. Pertinently, the Parliament is also alive to the social realities

having bearing on identity documents. There are various statutory

enactments wherein detailed provisions are made for change of

identity. The UIDAI allows changes in the Aadhar card upon

fulfilment of required conditions. Section­31 of Aadhaar (Targeted

Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services)

Act, 2016 provides for changes in the records. The provision

permits both demographic and biometric changes. It reads thus:

“31. Alteration of demographic information or biometric
information.— (1) In case any demographic information of an
Aadhaar number holder is found incorrect or changes
subsequently, the Aadhaar number holder shall request the
Authority to alter such demographic information in his record
in the Central Identities Data Repository in such manner as
may be specified by regulations.

(2) In case any biometric information of Aadhaar number
holder is lost or changes subsequently for any reason, the
Aadhaar number holder shall request the Authority to make
necessary alteration in his record in the Central Identities
Data Repository in such manner as may be specified by
regulations.

(3) On receipt of any request under sub­section (1) or sub­
section (2), the Authority may, if it is satisfied, make such
alteration as may be required in the record relating to such
Aadhaar number holder and intimate such alteration to the
concerned Aadhaar number holder.

84

(4) No identity information in the Central Identities Data
Repository shall be altered except in the manner provided in
this Act or regulations made in this behalf.”

Schedule II attached with Aadhar (Enrolment and Update)

Regulations, 2016 provides for the list of documents acceptable for

the purpose of verification of identity when a request for changes is

made. Proof of Identity could be verified on the basis of following

documents46:

a. Passport;

b. PAN Card;

c. Driving License;

d. Voter ID

For proof of date of birth, following documents 47 are
acceptable:

a. Birth certificate;

b. Passport;

c. Certificate of date of birth issued by Group A
Gazetted Officer on letterhead.

The UIDAI website also notes why such changes could be required

and we feel it relevant to reproduce the same thus:

46 List is merely illustrative, not exhaustive.
47 List is merely illustrative, not exhaustive.

85
“Demographic data update, the need could arise from:

 Changes in life events such as marriage may lead to
residents changing their basic demographic details such
as name and address. Address and mobile number could
also change due to migration to newer locations.
Residents may also want changes in their relative’s
details due to changes in life events such marriage, death
of a relative etc. In addition, residents could have other
personal reasons to change their mobile number, email
address etc.
 Changes in various service delivery platforms may lead
residents to declaration request changes and to add mobile
number to CIDR etc.
 Errors made during the enrolment process wherein the
resident’s demographic data may have been captured
incorrectly. Changes to “DoB/Age” and “Gender” fields are
expected primarily due to enrolment errors.
 Since a resident can enrol anywhere in India, it may
happen that a native speaker of language “A” is enrolled by an
operator of language “B” and consequently the resident’s local
language of enrolment is “B”. Later, the resident may want to
change the local language of enrolment to another that he/she
prefers. If so, then all the demographic information that is
printed on the Aadhaar letter will need to be updated in the
new local language.

 UIDAI may also ascertain availability of POI, POA and
other documents collected at the time of enrolment/update and
its quality and decide to notify resident to update their
demographic information and submit the required document.”
(emphasis supplied)

Apart from changes required due to marriage, migration, death etc.,

the authority takes into account the need for permitting changes

due to “personal reasons”. The underlying idea is to ensure

86
accuracy of record whilst ensuring free exercise of control by an

individual over her identity.

135. Similarly, Section 24 of the Passports Act, 1967 read with the

Passport Rules, 1980 permit change of name and date of birth on

the basis of certain documents. The Ministry of External Affairs 48

permits change of name and other information, including signature,

of the passport holder as a part of its passport services. It allows

change of name under three categories:

“Change of name may be allowed to the applicant in the
following events:

1. Following marriage, divorce or Remarriage or

2. Adding surname (childhood to adulthood) or

3. Change of complete name.”

It permits such changes on the basis of certain documents which

are listed as:

“Documents required

(i) Prescribed Deed Poll

(ii) Original newspaper cutting announcing the change of
name published in two leading daily newspapers (in the areas
of residence & permanent residence) – in Indian & local
Newspaper

(iii) The applicant has to furnish a Sworn Affidavit(s) for the
purpose quoting the reason for name change.”

48 for short, “MoEA”

87
The Ministry also permits change in signature on the Passport upon

fulfilment of certain conditions which read thus:

“Change of Signature
For changing signature in the passport, application for new
passport has to be made and the applicant must append his /
her old signature along with new signature on the second page
of the passport application form along with the following
documents.

Requirements:

1. Application form should be completely filled in and
signed.

2. 4 (four) passport size (35 mm x 45 mm) identical
photographs showing frontal view of full face with white
background.

3. The current passport having valid visa or residence
permit is required to be enclosed. In case the latest passport is
additional booklet(s) issued to the original passport, the
additional booklet(s) plus the original passport must be
furnished.”

Furthermore, the Ministry also permits change of appearance in its

records if it has changed significantly over time, thus:

“Change in appearance
If your appearance has changed significantly since your last
passport was made, you can apply for a fresh passport with a
recent photograph.”

136. What emerges from the above analysis is that the

government(s) is cognizant of its duty to upgrade its identity records

in tune with changing requirements of the citizens. From reasons

purely personal to reasons flowing from life events such as

88
marriage, death or migration, the authorities are responsive to the

changing needs of citizens. As per the nature of identity, changes

are permissible. In light of the clear dicta in National Legal

Services Authority49and K.S. Puttaswamy50, it is bounden duty of

all state instrumentalities to play the role of enablers in the exercise

of rights by the citizens, including to correct their records owing to

purely personal choices of the citizens. For instance, “gender” is an

evolving concept which could warrant changes in identity

documents. In such cases, too much insistence on disclosure of

reasons could be invasive to privacy. Though, in an ultimate

analysis, this exercise of examining the reasons has to be left to the

court of law empowered to permit changes in a specific factual

scenario.

137. No doubt, it is true that CBSE certificates are not strictly

meant to be considered as identity documents, however, the same

are being relied upon for corroborative purposes in all academic and

career related transactions as foundational document. In fact, the

CBSE itself has conceded to this fact that their certificates are

49 supra at Footnote No.34
50 supra at Footnote No.36

89
relied for all official purposes, as noted above. The date of birth in

matriculation certificate, in particular, is relied upon as primary

evidence of date of birth of a citizen. Therefore, as regards the

information contained in a CBSE certificate, the Board must afford

opportunity to the students to modify it subject to complying with

requisite formalities which are reasonable in nature. If all other

State agencies could allow it for the preservance of consistency and

accuracy, alongside being enablers in free exercise of rights by the

citizens, there is no reason for the CBSE to not uphold that right of

the students. More so, it would be in the interest of CBSE’s own

credibility that their records are regarded as accurate and latest

records of a student worthy of being relied upon for official

purposes. Therefore, this approach would serve twin purposes –

enabling free exercise of rights and preservance of accuracy.

138. We must, however, note that the justiciability of the requested

changes can of course be gone into. Every agency has its own

method of verification while accepting or rejecting changes in their

records. For instance, some agencies use sworn affidavits for

carrying out changes, some agencies require prior permission by a

90
court of law. The CBSE itself uses the same mechanism – prior

permission by court of law and publication in official gazette. We

may discuss the relevance of prior permission by court in deciding

the questions of justiciability and genuineness of requested changes

at a later stage.

139. Law gives no recognition to an act of shunning essential duties

by an entity of the State. There is a settled body of cases which

expounds that a body entrusted with essential public functions

cannot unduly put fetters on its powers. In Indian Aluminium

Company51, this Court noted the proposition thus:

“12. This case was followed by Russell. J. in York Corporation
v. Henry Leetham & Sons Ltd.52. There, the plaintiff­
corporation was entrusted by statute with the control of
navigation in part of the rivers Ouse and Fose with power to
charge such tolls within limits, as the corporation deemed
necessary to carry on the two navigations in which the public
had an interest. The corporation made two contracts with the
defendants under which they agreed to accept, in
consideration of the right to navigate the Ouse, a regular
annual payment of £600 per annum in place of the authorised
tolls. The contract in regard to navigation of the Fose was on
similar lines. It was held by Russell, J. that the contracts were
ultra vires and void because under them the corporation had
disabled itself, whatever emergency might arise, from
exercising its statutory powers to increase tolls as from time to
time might be necessary. The learned Judge, after citing Ayr
Harbour’s case53 and another case Straffordshire and

51 supra at Footnote No.6
52 (1924) 1 Ch 557
53(1883) 8 App 623

91
Worcestershire Canal Navigation v. Birmingham Canal
Navigation54 observed:

The same principle underlies many other cases
which show the incapacity of a body charged with
statutory powers for public purposes to divest itself
of such powers or to fetter itself in the use of such
powers.

13. Finally Lord Parker, C.J. said in Southend­on­Sea
Corporation v. Hodgson (Wickford) Ltd
.55:

There is a long line of cases to which we have not
been specifically referred which lay down that a
public authority cannot by contract fetter the
exercise of its discretion.”
(emphasis supplied)

Similar proposition is enunciated in J.K. Aggarwal56 In the context

of CBSE, the Delhi High Court in Dhruva Parate57 noted how

CBSE has created self­imposed restrictions in its Byelaws by

permitting no change of name. The Court deprecated this exercise

of discretion and noted thus:

“8. The interests of efficiency of an organization ordinarily
determine the guidelines that have to be administered; yet
when they constrain the authorities of the organization, which
is meant to sub­serve the general public, from doing justice, in
individual cases, the guidelines become self­defeating. In such
cases, as in the present one, the end result would mean that
the petitioner would be left with two certificates with different
names and a whole lifetime spent possibly on explaining the
difference – hardly conducive to him, reflecting the inadequacy
in the system.”

541866 LR 1 HL 254
551961 2 All ER 46
56 supra at Footnote No.7
57 supra at Footnote No.4

92
In light of the above discussion, we must note that there are no

restrictions on the power of CBSE to permit change of name. The

Constitution, Resolution and Regulations are functional documents

of the Board and none of these documents provide for any such

fetters. Therefore, in the exercise of its discretion, the Board cannot

put fetters on its duties so as to cause grave prejudice to the

students with legitimate causes for changing their certificates. The

exercise of discretion in this negative manner would be arbitrary

and unreasonable, at best.

140. We, thus, hold that the provision regarding change of name

“post publication of examination results” is excessively restrictive

and imposes unreasonable restrictions on the exercise of rights

under Article 19. We make it clear that the provision for change of

name is clearly severable from those for corrections in name/date of

birth and therefore, our determination shall not affect them except

as regards the condition of limitation period, in terms of the

aforesaid discussion and guidelines stated later.

93

141. Let us now understand the journey of examination byelaws

from 1995 to 2018, as they sailed through multiple amendments

over the course of time.

142. We may begin with Byelaws which were in force upto 2007 i.e.,

upto the 2007 amendment. Byelaw 69 dealt with “Changes in

Board’s Certificate” wherein Byelaw 69.1 covered “Changes and

Corrections in Name” and 69.2 covered “Change/Correction in Date

of Birth”. On an understanding of the language adopted in the

Byelaws, we must note at the very outset that the terms “correction”

and “change” are not used interchangeably in the Byelaws.

Whereas, the term “correction” denotes spelling errors, factual

errors or typographical errors and the term “change” denotes a

complete change of name. For ready reference, a summary of the

development of Examination Byelaws can be tabulated as follows:

CBSE EXAMINATION BYELAWS

Correction in Correction in Change of Change in Change/correctio Time period
candidate’s names of candidate’s names of n in candidate’s
name candidate’s name candidate’s date of birth
father/mother father/mother

Before 2007 Permitted to Permitted to Alteration/addit Alteration/additio No change in date For correction in
Amendment make it make it ion/deletion n/deletion of birth permitted. name­ No
consistent with consistent with permitted to permitted to Only corrections limitation.

              school record.    school record.    make it different   make it different    permitted to make
                                                  from school         from school          it consistent with    For D.o.B.­ within
                                                  record upon         record upon          school records.       2 years of
                                                  fulfilment of two   fulfilment of two                          declaration of
                                                  conditions –        conditions –                               result.
                                                  permission by       permission by
                                                  court of law and    court of law and
                                                  notification in     notification in
                                                  government          government


                                                       94
                                                  gazette.            gazette.
Post 2007   Permitted to      Permitted to        No change in        No change in        Same as before.       For name­ within
Amendment   make it           make it             name/surname        name/surname                              10 years of
            consistent with   consistent with     permitted.          permitted.                                declaration of
            school record.    school record.                                                                    result.
                                                                                                                For D.o.B.­ same
                                                                                                                as before.
Post 2011    Same as          Same as before.     Can be              Can be             Same as before.        For change of
Amendment   before.                               considered on       considered on                             name­ within 10
                                                  written request     written request of                        years of
                                                  of                  candidate/father                          declaration of
                                                  candidate/fathe     /mother duly                              result.
                                                  r/mother duly       forwarded by
                                                  forwarded by        Head of the
                                                  Head of the         Institution.
                                                  Institution.
Post 2015   Permitted to      Permitted to        Can be              No change in        Same as before.       For correction of
Amendment   make it           make it             considered upon     name of             Only time was         name­ within 1
            consistent with   consistent with     fulfilment of two   father/mother of    reduced to one        year of declaration
            school record     school record but   prior conditions    candidate           year after            of result.
            but only within   only within one     before              permissible.        declaration of
            one year of       year of result.     publication of                          result.               For D.o.B.­ within
            result.                               result of                                                     1 year of
                                                  candidate –                                                   declaration of
                                                  permission by                                                 result.
                                                  court of law and
                                                  gazette
                                                  notification.
Post 2018   Same as before.   Same as before.     Same as before.     Change in name      No change in date     For correction of
Amendment   Time limit        Time limit          Caption made        of father/mother    of birth permitted.   name­ within 5
            changed to five   changed to five     mandatory for       permitted with      Two categories of     years of
            years after       years after         showing the         same conditions     corrections           declaration of
            declaration of    declaration of      changed             as applicable in    permitted – as per    result.
            result.           result.             information in      case of change of   school records and
                                                  certificate.        name of             as per court          For D.o.B.­ within
                                                                      candidate.          orders.               5 years of
                                                                                                                declaration of
                                                                                                                result.




143. The      aforesaid           table         depicts         that         there         is    hardly           any

consistency in the Examination Byelaws operating during the

relevant period, either in the scope of permissible changes or in the

timelines provided for effecting such changes. Presumably, drawing

upon experiences and judicial pronouncements, the Board had to

carry out frequent amendments in the Byelaws, sometimes to do a

95
somersault and go back to the earlier position. By and large, the

impression gathered from the above tabular analysis is that the

Board has been groping in the dark without having an all­purpose

long term objective policy in place as regards permissible changes.

EXAMINATION OF VALIDITY OF BYELAWS

144. At the outset, we note that there are certain characteristics of

changes that students usually apply for being recorded in their

certificates. Change of name of the student/father/mother,

correction in name of the student/father/mother and correction in

date of birth are the primary ones. All these changes cannot be

weighed with the same scale. Even in the Byelaws, all these

changes are not subjected to the same set of restrictions/conditions

and different changes are circumscribed by different conditions.

145. The conditions regarding “correction” in name or date of birth

are not as stringent as conditions applicable to change thereof. For

correction in name, the 2018 Byelaws provide for a limitation period

of five years and permit such corrections that can be characterized

as typographical, factual or spelling mistake in comparison with
96
school records. Understandably, a correction would mean retention

of the original record with slight modification to make it consistent

with the school records. This requirement of modification could be

born out of various reasons, namely typographical mistake at the

time of publishing, spelling error or factual error i.e., an error of fact

as it existed at the time when the certificate was published. Thus,

correction in name is done to bring unanimity between the school

records (as they existed at the time of sending information to the

Board) and CBSE certificates. However, if school records are

altered afterwards and Board is called upon to alter its certificates

in light of the updated school records, the same cannot be termed

as correction per se but would be in the nature of recording change.

Therefore, substantially deviating from a “correction”, the Byelaws

provide for an option to “change” the name, which is subject to

different conditions.

146. Similar provision is available for “correction” in date of birth,

either on the basis of school records or on the basis of order of

court. The word “change” is not used for date of birth as, unlike

name, there can only be one date of birth and there can only be a

97
correction to make it consistent with school record or order of

Court. It cannot be changed to replace the former with a fresh date

of one’s choice. Be it noted, provisions relating to correction in

date of birth and name are just and reasonable and do not impose

any unreasonable restriction on permissibility of corrections. The

restriction regarding limitation period shall be examined later, along

with other provisions.

147. The provision for “change” of name is far more stringent and

calls for a thorough review to settle the correct position. As per the

present law, change of name is permissible upon fulfilment of two

prior conditions – prior permission of the Court of law and

publication of the proposed change in official gazette. These

conditions co­exist with another condition predicating that both

prior permission and publication must be done before the

publication of result. What it effectively means is that change of

name would simply be impermissible after the publication of result

of the candidate even if the same is permitted by a Court of law and

published in official gazette. In other words, once the examination

result of the candidate has been published, the Board would only

98
permit corrections in name mentioned in the certificate. Further,

changing the name out of freewill is simply ruled out.

148. Notably, the cases before us pertain to different periods. As

aforesaid, the CBSE byelaws which existed prior to 2007 were

different. The summary of the journey of the examination byelaws

from 2007 till 2018 has been tabulated hitherto. The distinction

between “correction” and “change” was always well­demarcated

including prior to 2007. As regards the correction which could

mean to carry out modification to make it consistent with school

record but when it came to request for change of name of the

candidate or his parents, that could be done only after complying

with the pre­conditions specified therefor. However, when it came

to change in the date of birth that was completely prohibited. Only

correction regarding date of birth was permitted to be made

consistent with the school record. And for which limitation of two

years from declaration of result was specified. The requirement of

two years cannot be considered as unreasonable restriction. The

candidate and his parents are expected to be vigilant and to take

remedial measures immediately after declaration of result of the

99
candidate. That too for being made consistent with school record.

The Board must follow the discipline of continuation of entries in

the school record as it is vital for pursuing further and higher

education including career opportunities by the candidate.

Significantly, the position as obtained prior to 2007 did not provide

for any time limit within which correction of candidate’s name or of

his parents was to be pursued. These restrictions are certainly

reasonable restrictions while recognising the enabling power of the

Board to alter its record in the form of certificates issued to the

candidate concerned to make it consistent with the school records

or otherwise.

149. Suffice it to observe that frequent amendments in the Byelaws

have been made providing for different dispensations for the

relevant period. For the nature of final directions that we propose

to issue, it may not be necessary to dilate on the validity of the

concerned Byelaw as amended from time to time. Broadly, it can be

noted that the Byelaw recognises two different dispensations. First

is to carry out modifications in the original certificate on request for

making it consistent with the school records of the incumbent. The

100
second is to incorporate particulars in the original certificate which

are different from the school records.

150. Indisputably, the candidate would pursue further education

and explore future career opportunities on the basis of school

records including the CBSE Board. The CBSE maintains its official

records in respect of candidate on the basis of foundational

documents being the school records. Therefore, the CBSE is

obliged to carry out all necessary corrections to ensure that CBSE

certificate is consistent with the relevant information furnished in

the school records as it existed at the relevant time and future

changes thereto including after the publication of results by the

CBSE. However, when it comes to recording any information in the

original certificate issued by the CBSE which is not consistent with

the school records, it is essential that the CBSE must insist for

supporting public document which has presumptive value and in

the given case declaration by a Court of law to incorporate such a

change. In that regard, the CBSE can insist for additional

conditions to reassure itself and safeguard its interest against any

claim by a third party/body because of changes incorporated by it

101
pursuant to application made by the candidate. In the concluding

paragraph, we intend to issue directions to the CBSE Board in light

of the discussion in this judgment. For the nature of uniform

directions that we propose to issue so as to obviate any inconsistent

approach in the cases under consideration including future cases to

be dealt with by the CBSE Board, it is not necessary for us to dilate

on the question of validity of the respective amendments in the

relevant Byelaws effected from time to time.

Point No. 3

BINDING VALUE OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS

151. Whether CBSE is obliged to effect changes in the certificates

issued by it upon production of updated public documents (other

than school records), is the next issue for consideration. According

to the Board, it would not be permissible as it has no independent

mechanism to verify the genuineness of the public documents.

Even under the Byelaws, there is no requirement for the Board to

verify the genuineness of the documents. It is simply not the job of

the Board.

102

152. The Byelaws provide for a two­tier mechanism for recording

change of name or other details (as indicated above). One of them

is prior permission or declaration by a Court of law to be obtained.

As regards public documents like Birth Certificate, Official Gazette,

Aadhaar Card, Election Card, etc., the same enjoy legal

presumption of its correctness in terms of explicit provisions

contained in Chapter V of the 1872 Act. The 1872 Act extends such

presumption in terms of Section 76 read with Sections 79 and 80 of

the 1872 Act and as in the case of Official Gazette under Section 81

of the same Act. Even other legislations concerning public

documents attach equal importance to the authenticity of such

documents including while making changes in their certificates to

which we have alluded to in this judgment. Understood thus, there

is no reason for the CBSE Board to not take notice of the public

documents relied upon by the candidate and to record change on

that basis in the certificate issued by it, for being consistent with

the relied upon public documents. It matters not if the information

furnished in the public documents is not entirely consistent with

the school records of the incumbent. The CBSE while accepting

103
those documents as foundational documents for effecting changes

consistent therewith may insist for additional conditions and at the

same time while retaining the original entry make note in the form

of caption/annotation in the fresh certificate to be issued by it while

calling upon the incumbent to surrender the original certificate

issued by it to avoid any misuse thereof at a later point of time. It

would be permissible for the CBSE to insist for a sworn affidavit to

be given by the incumbent making necessary declaration and also

to indemnify the CBSE. The fresh certificate to be issued by the

CBSE may also contain disclaimer of the Board clearly mentioning

that change has been effected at the behest of the incumbent in

light of the public documents relied upon by him. In addition, the

incumbent can be called upon to notify about the change in the

Official Gazette and by giving public notice as precondition for

recording the change by way of abundant precaution.

153. This Court in CIDCO vs. Vasudha Gorakhnath

Mandevlekar58, has observed that the records maintained by

statutory authorities have a presumption of correctness in their

58 (2009) 7 SCC 283

104
favour and they would prevail over any entry made in the school

register. The Court observed thus:

“18. The deaths and births register maintained by the
statutory authorities raises a presumption of correctness.

Such entries made in the statutory registers are admissible in
evidence in terms of Section 35 of the Evidence Act. It would
prevail over an entry made in the school register, particularly,
in absence of any proof that same was recorded at the
instance of the guardian of the respondent. (See Birad Mal
Singhvi v. Anand Purohit59
.)”

The same position of law can be extended to the mandate laid down

in Right to Education Act and Chapter­3 of the CBSE Byelaws

relating to admission of students. Byelaw 6.1 is instructive and

relevant extract thereof reads thus:

“6. Admission: General Conditions:

6.1 (a) A student seeking admission to any class in a ‘School’
will be eligible for admission to that Class only if he:

….

….

(iv) produces:

(c) For the purposes of admission to elementary
education, the age of a child shall be determined on the
basis of the birth certificate issued in accordance with the
provisions of the Births, Deaths and Marriages
Registration Act, 1886 or on the basis of such other
document, as may be prescribed, as stipulated in section
14(1)
of THE RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND
COMPULSORY EDUCATION ACT, 2009.

(d) No child shall be denied admission in a school for lack
of age proof, as stipulated in section 14(2) of THE RIGHT
OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY
EDUCATION ACT, 2009.”

59AIR 1988 SC 1796

105
Therefore, even at elementary education level, there is a clear

legislative intent to rely on statutory Birth Certificates for the

purpose of date of birth. The authoritative value of these certificates

is duly affirmed in this scheme.

154. There is no difficulty in correcting CBSE record to bring it in

conformity with the school record. The difficulty arises when a

statutory document is not consistent with the school record. As

observed earlier, the version supported by statutory documents

could be reckoned for the purpose of correction in CBSE certificate

to make it consistent with public documents.

155. Post 2018 amendment of Byelaws, even in case of date of

birth, corrections are permitted on two basis – to bring in

conformity with school records and in pursuance of court order.

The relevant provision reads thus:

“A. “Correction as per the school records:

i. Corrections to correct typographical and other errors to
make the certificate consistent with the school records can be
made provided that corrections in the school records should
not have been made after the submission of application form
for admission to Examination to the Board.

106

B. Correction as per Court Orders.

Applications regarding correction in date of birth of candidates
will be considered provided the correction have been admitted
by the Court of law. In cases of correction in date of birth
in documents after the court orders caption will be
mentioned on the document “CORRECTION ALLOWED IN
DATE OF BIRTH FROM _______ TO ___ ON (DATED) ____ AS
PER COURT ORDER NO. ____ DATED ____.”

156. When a student applies to a Court of law for prior permission

and/or declaration and produces public document(s), the Court

would enter upon an inquiry wherein the legal presumption would

operate in favour of the public document(s) and burden would shift

on the party opposing the change to rebut the presumption or

oppose the claim on any other ground. The question of

genuineness of the document including its contents would be

adjudicated in the same inquiry and the Court of law would permit

the desired change only upon verifying the official records and upon

being satisfied of its genuineness. At the same time, the question of

justiciability of the requested changes would be considered and only

upon being satisfied with the need demonstrated by the student,

the Court would grant its permission. The said permission can

then be placed before the Board along with copy of publication in

the official gazette and requisite (prescribed) fee (if any). The Board

107
would then have no locus to make further enquiry nor would be

required to enter upon any further verification exercise.

157. We may now advert to the dictum of the Kerala High Court in

Subin Mohammed60. The same has been relied upon in most of

the impugned judgments for permitting corrections. In that

decision, the Court discussed the inadequacies in the Byelaws and

issued directions to CBSE to correct date of birth with reference to

statutory Birth Certificates provided the request is found to be

genuine. The operative directions read thus:

“41. Hence, to meet the ends of justice, it will be appropriate
for this Court to dispose the Writ Petitions with the following
directions:

(i) That CBSE shall correct the entries in the mark
sheet of the petitioners with reference to their
corresponding birth certificates issued by the
statutory authority, if the request is found to be
genuine.

(ii) Genuineness of the birth certificate can be ascertained
from the respective local/statutory authority/Head of the
Institution or such other method, CBSE may deem it fit.

(iii) CBSE can demand in advance a consolidated fee,
including all expenses for processing such applications.

(iv) Each of the petitioners shall pay ₹ 5,000/­ (Rupees
Five thousand only) as cost to CBSE within a period of
one month.”
(emphasis supplied)

60 supra at Footnote No.12

108
Thus, the task of determining genuineness of the request was left to

the CBSE, which not only goes contrary to our discussion above but

also fails to take into account the limitations of CBSE as a body.

While considering requests for changes in certificates, CBSE cannot

act as a court and it cannot effectively consider any request over

and above those requests that merely require bringing the

certificates in conformity with the school records or public

documents, as the case may be.

Point No. 4

158. As noticed in the submissions above, there is a conflict of

opinion amongst the High Courts as regards the point of time which

would determine the applicability of Byelaws. The frequent

amendments carried out by the CBSE had made it imperative for

the courts to grapple with this question. The immediate question is

whether the date of declaration of result or the date of application

for changes would be determinative of the applicable Byelaws. While

addressing this question, the Delhi High Court in Kalpana

109
Thakur61 took the view that the Byelaws existing on the date of

application would apply, irrespective of amendment. This view can

be discerned from the following paragraphs of the judgment:

“12.2 In my view, the submission of Mr. Bansal that amended
Bye­laws 69.1(i) would apply, is untenable, for a simple reason
that the amendment to the said bye­law was notified only on
25.06.2015; a date which falls beyond the date on which the
application for change of name was preferred in the instant
case. The argument advanced in support of this submission
by Mr. Bansal that the Office Order was in place prior to the
date of the application, in my view, will not sustain, as the
Office Order, is an internal document, which could have no
legal validity till the position taken therein is put in public
realm. The very fact that a notification in respect of the
amended Bye­law was issued by respondent no. 1/CBSE,
would show, that the decision to amend bye­law 69.1(i)
required a public notice.

12.3 Consequently, all applications for change of name which
are filed prior to notification dated 25.06.2015, will be
governed, in my view, by the unamended Bye­law 69.1(i).

Therefore, quite logically, the petitioners, in my opinion, would
have to be given the reliefs as sought in the writ petition.”

Notably, the question before the Court was slightly different. It was

only whether the unamended Byelaws would continue to apply if

the application was preferred before the date of amendment.

Nevertheless, the Kerala High Court in Vyshnav62 has taken a

different view of the matter and observed that the Byelaws existing

on the date of passing out would apply. It observed thus:

61 supra at Footnote No. 26
62 supra at Footnote No. 27

110
“5. On an analysis of the said rule and amended provision it is
evident that, the first respondent relied on an incorrect
provision in order to non­suit the petitioner by rejecting the
applications submitted for change of name. Therefore, Exts.P7
and P9 cannot be sustained under law, since the same is
violative of the rule provided for the purpose. Petitioner has
passed out in the year 2013 and therefore, the law as it stood
then has to be taken in to account, since there is no
retrospective operation to the amendment. Therefore, I quash
Exts.P7 and P9, and direct the first respondent to re­consider
the application submitted by the petitioner based on Rule
69(1(i), as it stood before as is specified above.”

159. Considered in the context of the Byelaws, the controversy is

actually simple in nature. The Byelaws consistently provide that

the period of limitation is to be calculated from the date of

declaration of the result and issue of certificate. It means that the

period of limitation begins to run against the student after

declaration of result and publication of certificates as the student is

put to notice of the contents of the document, upon its issue. The

student can now be said to be in a position to verify the correctness

of the certificate(s). The irresistible outcome of this legal position is

that the Byelaws existing on the date of such

declaration/publication of result and issue of certificate would be

relevant for the purpose of effecting changes in the certificates. The

express language of the Byelaws would be defeated if we say that

111
the law existing on the date of application for recording change

would be relevant. That would negate the very importance of

having a period of limitation for correction of the certificates.

160. If the limitation of applicability of Byelaws was to be reckoned

from the date of application for correction/change and not the date

of result of the examination conducted by CBSE, we would be

leaving things to a state of uncertainty. For, a student who could

possibly have surpassed the limitation period under unamended

Byelaws would regain the right to change the certificates if the

Byelaws existing on the date of application permit so and provide

for a longer period. Similarly, a student who had ten years for

carrying out changes under the unamended Byelaws would lose her

right if Byelaws are amended within the ten­year period so as to

provide for a much shorter, say two years, limitation period.

Certainty, consistency and predictability are the hallmarks of any

legal relationship and it is in the interest of public policy that legal

interpretation preserves and protects these hallmarks. This

determination, however, is only to state the legal position and may

not have any immediate bearing on the cases before us.

112

161. The CBSE also advanced an argument that no changes can be

permitted in its records as there is no fundamental right to claim

that changed records be operative since birth and any change must

only be prospective and not retrospective. The crux of the

argument can be traced from paragraph 23 of Rayaan Chawla63

which has been relied upon to buttress this submission. It reads

thus:

“23. The legal position that would follow from the above
conspectus of the judgments noted and cited by the learned
Counsel for the parties is that normally a person would have a
right to have his name changed subject to fulfilment of
appropriate formalities/procedures to ensure that there is no
misuse or confusion created on account of the change in
name. The change of name is prospective. …”

Though a well­meaning argument advanced to minimise the

possibility of misuse, we are not inclined to accept it as something

that could turn the case. The court, in Rayaan Chawla64,

accepted that expression of one’s name in the manner of their

choice is indeed a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a), but held

that the right is prospective and does not extend to permitting

changes in the documents already issued by the Board. It is

pertinent to note that once changes are permitted in the documents
63 supra at Footnote No.8
64 supra at Footnote No.8

113
of CBSE, it does not ipso facto mean that the changes are given a

retrospective effect. The changes are indeed prospective and to

signify that a remedial measure is provided in the Byelaws, as

existing presently. They provide for the requirement of adding a

caption/annotation with the date of such change along with the

changed particulars so as to indicate within the certificate that the

changes have been made on a date subsequent to the date of

publishing the certificates. The requirement of caption/annotation

is indeed a sufficient safeguard to prevent the usage of

subsequently altered documents as unchanged original records.

Point No. 5

ISSUANCE OF MANDAMUS IN CONTRAVENTION OF BYELAWS

162. The next issue for consideration is whether it is proper for the

High Courts to issue mandamus to the CBSE for correction of

certificates in complete contravention of the Byelaws, without

examining the validity of the Byelaws. For issuing such directions,

reliance has been placed upon Subin Mohammed65, wherein the

65 supra at Footnote No.12

114
Court noted that the case does not involve correction of a

typographical nature, as permissible in the Byelaws, but went on to

uphold the right of the student to apply for changes on the basis of

statutory certificate. It observed thus:

“35. Therefore, we have to proceed on the basis that the bye
law of CBSE cannot be applied to the fact situation. But to
reconcile the date of birth entry in the mark sheet with that of
the entry in the statutory certificate, the candidates should
not be left without any remedy. Their right to approach the
Court for redressing their grievance cannot be ruled out.”

The court then delineated the principles for issuance of writ of

mandamus and noted that in the strict sense, a mandamus would

not lie but considering the damage that the student could face as

regards his career prospects, the permission was granted. In

paragraph 39, it noted thus:

“39. It is contended that the future prospects of the petitioners
to study or get employment abroad, will be substantially
affected if the entry of date of birth in the mark sheet does not
tally with that in the birth certificate. Though a writ of
mandamus cannot be issued in the strict sense, we are of
the view that, failure to exercise jurisdiction may put the
petitioners to serious hardship. Hence, to render justice,
it is always open for the Court to pass appropriate
orders, taking into account the facts and circumstances
of each case. However, if disputed questions of fact arises, it
will not be appropriate for this Court to entertain the matter.”

(emphasis supplied)

115
The law regarding the writ of mandamus is settled. The foremost

requirement for issuance of mandamus is the existence of a legal

right against a body which is either a public body or a non­public

body performing a public function. In Binny Ltd.66, this Court

summed up the principle thus:

“29. Thus, it can be seen that a writ of mandamus or the
remedy under Article 226 is pre­eminently a public law
remedy and is not generally available as a remedy against
private wrongs. It is used for enforcement of various rights of
the public or to compel public/statutory authorities to
discharge their duties and to act within their bounds. It may
be used to do justice when there is wrongful exercise of power
or a refusal to perform duties. This writ is admirably equipped
to serve as a judicial control over administrative actions. This
writ could also be issued against any private body or person,
specially in view of the words used in Article 226 of the
Constitution. However, the scope of mandamus is limited to
enforcement of public duty. The scope of mandamus is
determined by the nature of the duty to be enforced, rather
than the identity of the authority against whom it is sought. If
the private body is discharging a public function and the
denial of any right is in connection with the public duty
imposed on such body, the public law remedy can be
enforced. The duty cast on the public body may be either
statutory or otherwise and the source of such power is
immaterial, but, nevertheless, there must be the public law
element in such action. Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish
between public law and private law remedies. According to
Halsbury’s Laws of England, 3rd Edn., Vol. 30, p.682,
“1317. A public authority is a body, not necessarily a
county council, municipal corporation or other local
authority, which has public or statutory duties to perform
and which perform those duties and carries out its
transactions for the benefit of the public and not for
private profit.”

66 supra at Footnote No.32

116
There cannot be any general definition of public authority or
public action. The facts of each case decide the point.”

In the present case, the question is not whether CBSE was

amenable to writ of mandamus or not. For, we have already held

the Board being a public body is performing a public function. The

question is whether there was an enforceable legal right in favour of

students to seek such a direction and whether Byelaws have the

force of law and directions can be issued by the court only in

conformity thereof.

163. The impugned judgments categorically note that the request

for changes could not be permitted as per the Byelaws. Thus, there

was no demonstration or inquiry to determine the existence of any

legal right in favour of students. Even if we assume that courts

issued directions purely on the basis of fundamental rights, there is

no discussion or inquiry in this regard. More so, there is no

attempt to examine the vires of the Byelaws in light of the breach of

fundamental rights, as discussed in the initial part of this

judgment. Absent any such adverse determination on the validity

of the applicable rules, the fundamental principle of rule of law

demands that such rules be given their intended effect. Even if a
117
constitutional Court feels that the case at hand is deserving of an

extraordinary remedy, it may do so using its wide powers under

Article 226 but only upon specific appraisal of the facts of the case

and after duly demonstrating the extraordinary character of the

case. Despite holding that the prayers are impermissible under the

Byelaws, the Courts in the present set of cases went on to issue

directions to the Board without having any regard to the factual

circumstances of the case or to the nature of changes sought by the

students, by mechanically relying upon the dictum in Subin

Mohammed67. We must note that Subin Mohammed68 is not in

challenge before us but must be now understood in terms of

opinion recorded in this judgment. Our concern is with the manner

in which mechanical reliance has been placed upon the earlier

decision for deciding cases which involved an altogether different

set of changes.

164. Once a Court of law notes that the applicable rules do not

permit it to grant a particular relief and it still goes on to grant the

relief on sympathetic grounds, such decisions can in no way be

67 supra at Footnote No.12
68 supra at Footnote No.12

118
treated as precedents. We are constrained to note that following

such decision as precedent will be in utter disregard of the well­

established principle of “equity acts in personam” and, thus, courts

cannot deploy equity in “rem” by replicating the same order,

disregarding the personal characteristics of the case at hand. There

can be no application of Subin Mohammed69 to a different set of

facts.

165. The High Courts, being constitutional Courts, are duly vested

with the power to review any law in light of Part­III. Despite being

called upon to do so, if they choose not to do it, the same cannot be

countenanced. There cannot be mechanical directions by way of

mandamus to a public authority without going into the veracity of

the claims and without sufficiently explaining why the case

demands extraordinary treatment.

166. In fact, in Md. Sarifuz Zaman70, a two­Judge Bench of this

Court noted that such exercise of power in itself would be arbitrary.

It observed thus:

69 supra at Footnote No.12
70 supra at Footnote No.16

119
“10. …People, institutions and government departments,
etc. — all attach a very high degree of reliability, near
finality, to the entries made in the certificates issued by
the Board. The frequent exercise of power to correct
entries in certificates and that too without any
limitation on exercise of such power would render the
power itself arbitrary and may result in eroding the
credibility of certificates issued by the Board. We,
therefore, find it difficult to uphold the contention that the
applicants seeking correction of entries in such certificates
have any such right or vested right.”
(emphasis supplied)

Thus, the Courts need to be extra cautious and alive to the

immediate factual position before permitting changes. No two

requests for change of name or change in date of birth can be

viewed with the same judicial eye. Sometimes, change of name

could be a necessity, sometimes it could be a pure exercise of

freewill without any need. As long as Byelaws or the applicable

rules permit so, there is no occasion for any court to deny such

relief. But when Byelaws do not permit for the same, the Court

must be circumspect before issuing directions, that too without

commenting upon the validity of the Byelaws and without

demonstrating the rights which are at stake – constitutional or

legal.

120

167. Before proceeding further, we must briefly note that the

dictum of this Court in Md. Sarifuz Zaman71 has been relied upon

by the Board to contend that it prohibits any change in

contravention of the Byelaws as it does not recognize any legal right

to claim such changes beyond the prescribed conditions. It has also

been asserted that Md. Sarifuz Zaman72 and Subin Mohammed73

contradict each other. Whether the two judgments are in conflict

with each other is an examination that is not called for. For, we

have not placed any reliance upon Subin Mohammed74 for deciding

this case and also because Md. Sarifuz Zaman75 is a judgment of

this Court as against Subin Mohammed76 is a judgment of the

Kerala High Court. It requires no reiteration that even if a conflict

exists, the judgment of this Court must prevail under all

circumstances unless there is another judgment of larger Bench of

this Court which takes a different view.

71 supra at Footnote No.16
72 supra at Footnote No.16
73 supra at Footnote No.12
74 supra at Footnote No.12
75 supra at Footnote No.16
76 supra at Footnote No.12

121

168. Be that as it may, we must examine the dictum of this Court

in Md. Sarifuz Zaman77. The case involved a request for

correction of clerical nature in date of birth to bring it in conformity

with the correct school records. Paragraph 3 notes thus:

“3. One of the respondents, a student, having taken his
education in Government Boys Higher Secondary School,
passed the matriculation examination conducted by the Board
of Secondary Education, Assam, in the year 1991. Thereafter,
he passed higher secondary examination and then BSc
examination in the year 1998. When he filed the writ petition,
he was undergoing a course of study in computers. At that
point of time, on 12­10­1999, he moved an application to the
Board complaining that his date of birth was wrongly
mentioned in the school records as 30­5­1974, while his
actual date of birth was 16­8­1975. The mistaken date of
birth, as forwarded by the school, had crept into the admit
card issued by the Board. The writ petitioner student pleaded
that he did not realise the importance of the correct date of
birth being entered into the school records, and therefore, he
did not also realise the implications thereof until he was
prompted in moving the application. The application moved by
the respondent to the Principal of the school, was forwarded
by the latter to the Board. The Principal indicated that the age
of the respondent was entered as 16­8­1975 in the admission
register and other school records, but it was by mistake that
while filling the form of the Board examination, the date of
birth was wrongly entered as 30­5­1974. The Principal
described the mistake as “clerical” and recommended for its
correction. As the Board did not take any decision on the
application, the respondent filed a writ petition in the High
Court.”

The Court was considering the Regulations framed under the

Assam Secondary Education Act, 1961 which provided for a three

77 supra at Footnote No.16

122
years’ period post the declaration of result for effecting corrections

in their certificates. The student approached the Board after the

expiry of three years and thus, the primary question before the

Court was only whether the three years’ period would be enforced

as per Regulations or any relaxation could be given. The Court

refused to give any relaxation stating that expiry of limitation would

extinguish the remedy. In paragraph 12, it notes thus:

“12. Delay defeats discretion and loss of limitation destroys
the remedy itself. Delay amounting to laches results in benefit
of discretionary power being denied on principles of equity.

Loss of limitation resulting into depriving of the remedy, is a
principle based on public policy and utility and not equity
alone. There ought to be a limit of time by which human
affairs stand settled and uncertainty is lost. Regulation 8
confers a right on the applicant and a power coupled with an
obligation on the Board to make correction in the date of birth
subject to the ground of wrong calculation or clerical error
being made out. A reasonable procedure has been prescribed
for processing the application through the Inspector of
Schools who would verify the school records and submit
report to the Board so as to exclude from consideration the
claims other than those permissible within the framework of
Regulation 8. Power to pass order for correction is vested on a
high functionary like Secretary of the Board. An inaccuracy
creeping in at the stage of writing the certificates only, though
all other prior documents are correct in all respects, is capable
of being corrected within a period of three years from the date
of issuance of certificate.”

It, then, held the three years’ period to be a reasonable time as it is

sufficient time for a student to notice any error in her certificates.

Paragraph 13 notes thus:

123
“13. Three­year period provided by the Regulation, is a very
reasonable period. On the very date of issuance of the
certificate, the student concerned is put to notice as to the
entries made in the certificate. Everyone remembers his age
and date of birth. The student would realise within no time
that the date of birth as entered in the certificate is not
correct, if that be so, once the certificate is placed in his
hands. Based on the certificate the applicant would seek
admission elsewhere in an educational institution or might
seek a job or career where he will have to mention his age and
date of birth. Even if he failed to notice the error on the date of
issuance of the certificate, he would come to know the same
shortly thereafter. Thus, the period of three years, as
prescribed by Regulation 3, is quite reasonable. It is not
something like prescribing a period of limitation for
filing a suit. The prescription of three years is laying
down of a dividing line before which the power of the
Board to make correction ought to be invoked and beyond
which it may not be invoked. Belated applications, if allowed
to be received, may open a Pandora’s box. Records may not be
available and evidence may have been lost. Such evidence —
even convenient evidence — may be brought into existence as
may defy scrutiny. The prescription of three years’ bar takes
care of all such situations. The provision is neither illegal nor
beyond the purview of Section 24 of the Act and also cannot be
called arbitrary or unreasonable. The applicants seeking
rectification within a period of three years form a class by
themselves and such prescription has a reasonable nexus with
the purpose sought to be achieved. No fault can be found
therewith on the anvil of Article 14 of the Constitution.”

It can be noticed that apart from a wholly different factual matrix,

the Court in Md. Sarifuz Zaman78 was dealing with a very narrow

question of reasonability of the limitation period for correcting

clerical mistakes under the umbrella of a statutory law. The Court

had no occasion to deal with circumstances wherein a person would

78 supra at Footnote No.16

124
want to change her name out of her freewill in exercise of her

guaranteed fundamental rights under the Constitution. The Court

was looking at it as a purely civil transaction and in fact, treated it

like one while speaking of how the expiry of limitation would

entirely bar the remedy. As already observed above, we reiterate

that we see a difference between rights originating under the civil

laws and rights considered to be fundamental under the

Constitution and protected as such. The exercise of a fundamental

right can, at best, be regulated on reasonable grounds but not

entirely foreclosed without a strong and legitimate purpose. Except

that the dictum in Md. Sarifuz Zaman79 pertains to the specific

facts of its case and also because no prejudice was actually caused

to the student in that case (the changes were anyway permitted), we

say no more.

CONCLUSION AND DIRECTIONS TO CBSE

79 supra at Footnote No.16

125

169. Although we have discussed the broad issues canvassed

before us, in the ultimate analysis the real dispute requiring

resolution is about the nature of correction or change, as the case

may be, permissible to be carried by the CBSE at the instance of

the student including past student. As noted earlier, broadly, two

situations would arise.

170. The first is where the incumbent wants “correction” in the

certificate issued by the CBSE to be made consistent with the

particulars mentioned in the school records. As we have held there

is no reason for the CBSE to turn down such request or attach any

precondition except reasonable period of limitation and keeping in

mind the period for which the CBSE has to maintain its record

under the extant regulations. While doing so, it can certainly insist

for compliance of other conditions by the incumbent, such as, to file

sworn affidavit making necessary declaration and to indemnify the

CBSE from any claim against it by third party because of such

correction. The CBSE would be justified in insisting for

surrender/return of the original certificate (or duplicate original

certificate, as the case may be) issued by it for replacing it with the

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fresh certificate to be issued after carrying out necessary

corrections with caption/annotation against the changes carried

out and the date of such correction. It may retain the original

entries as it is except in respect of correction of name effected in

exercise of right to be forgotten. The fresh certificate may also

contain disclaimer that the CBSE cannot be held responsible for the

genuineness of the school records produced by the incumbent in

support of the request to record correction in the original CBSE

certificate. The CBSE can also insist for reasonable prescribed fees

to be paid by the incumbent in lieu of administrative expenses for

issuing fresh certificate. At the same time, the CBSE cannot

impose precondition of applying for correction consistent with the

school records only before publication of results. Such a condition,

as we have held, would be unreasonable and excessive. We repeat

that if the application for recording correction is based on the

school records as it obtained at the time of publication of results

and issue of certificate by the CBSE, it will be open to CBSE to

provide for reasonable limitation period within which the

application for recording correction in certificate issued by it may be

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entertained by it. However, if the request for recording change is

based on changed school records post the publication of results and

issue of certificate by the CBSE, the candidate would be entitled to

apply for recording such a change within the reasonable limitation

period prescribed by the CBSE. In this situation, the candidate

cannot claim that she had no knowledge about the change recorded

in the school records because such a change would occur obviously

at her instance. If she makes such application for correction of the

school records, she is expected to apply to the CBSE immediately

after the school records are modified and which ought to be done

within a reasonable time. Indeed, it would be open to the CBSE to

reject the application in the event the period for preservation of

official records under the extant regulations had expired and no

record of the candidate concerned is traceable or can be

reconstructed. In the case of subsequent amendment of school

records, that may occur due to different reasons including because

of choice exercised by the candidate regarding change of name. To

put it differently, request for recording of correction in the

certificate issued by the CBSE to bring it in line with the school

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records of the incumbent need not be limited to application made

prior to publication of examination results of the CBSE.

171. As regards request for “change” of particulars in the certificate

issued by the CBSE, it presupposes that the particulars intended to

be recorded in the CBSE certificate are not consistent with the

school records. Such a request could be made in two different

situations. The first is on the basis of public documents like Birth

Certificate, Aadhaar Card/Election Card, etc. and to incorporate

change in the CBSE certificate consistent therewith. The second

possibility is when the request for change is due to the acquired

name by choice at a later point of time. That change need not be

backed by public documents pertaining to the candidate.

(a) Reverting to the first category, as noted earlier, there is a

legal presumption in relation to the public documents as envisaged

in the 1872 Act. Such public documents, therefore, cannot be

ignored by the CBSE. Taking note of those documents, the CBSE

may entertain the request for recording change in the certificate

issued by it. This, however, need not be unconditional, but subject

to certain reasonable conditions to be fulfilled by the applicant as

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may be prescribed by the CBSE, such as, of furnishing sworn

affidavit containing declaration and to indemnify the CBSE and

upon payment of prescribed fees in lieu of administrative expenses.

The CBSE may also insist for issuing Public Notice and publication

in the Official Gazette before recording the change in the fresh

certificate to be issued by it upon surrender/return of the original

certificate (or duplicate original certificate, as the case may be) by

the applicant. The fresh certificate may contain disclaimer and

caption/annotation against the original entry (except in respect of

change of name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten)

indicating the date on which change has been recorded and the

basis thereof. In other words, the fresh certificate may retain

original particulars while recording the change along with

caption/annotation referred to above (except in respect of change of

name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten).

(b) However, in the latter situation where the change is to be

effected on the basis of new acquired name without any supporting

school record or public document, that request may be entertained

upon insisting for prior permission/declaration by a Court of law in

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that regard and publication in the Official Gazette including

surrender/return of original certificate (or duplicate original

certificate, as the case may be) issued by CBSE and upon payment

of prescribed fees. The fresh certificate as in other situations

referred to above, retain the original entry (except in respect of

change of name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten) and to

insert caption/annotation indicating the date on which it has been

recorded and other details including disclaimer of CBSE. This is so

because the CBSE is not required to adjudicate nor has the

mechanism to verify the correctness of the claim of the applicant.

172. In light of the above, in exercise of our plenary jurisdiction, we

direct the CBSE to process the applications for correction or

change, as the case may be, in the certificate issued by it in the

respective cases under consideration. Even other pending

applications and future applications for such request be processed

on the same lines and in particular the conclusion and directions

recorded hitherto in paragraphs 170 and 171, as may be applicable,

until amendment of relevant Byelaws. Additionally, the CBSE shall

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take immediate steps to amend its relevant Byelaws so as to

incorporate the stated mechanism for recording correction or

change, as the case may be, in the certificates already issued or to

be issued by it.

173. Accordingly, we dispose of the cases before us with directions

to the CBSE as noted in paragraphs 170 to 172 above. No order as

to costs.

…………………………….J.

(A.M. KHANWILKAR)

…………………………….J.

(B.R. GAVAI)

…………………………….J.

(KRISHNA MURARI)
New Delhi;

June 03, 2021.

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