This article is written by Vanya Verma from O.P. Jindal Global University. This article analyses the case of Jigya Yadav vs CBSE & Ors. where the Petitioner had approached the Supreme Court to change the name of her parents that had been wrongly recorded with the CBSE.
|Case||Jigya Yadav vs CBSE & Ors|
|Citation||W.P.(C) No. 3774/2010 & CM 7565/2010|
|Court||Supreme Court of India|
|Date of Judgement||June 03, 2021|
|Parties||Petitioner: Ms. Jigya Yadav (Minor) Through (Guardian/ Father) Mr. Hari SinghRespondent: Central Board of Secondary Education & Ors. (CBSE)|
|Bench||Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Krishna Murari|
In the case of Jigya Yadav vs CBSE & Ors (2021), a minor had filed a writ case through her father, alleging that one of the CBSE examination bye-laws is arbitrary and thus not constitutionally valid. The Supreme Court declared on June 3, 2021, that an individual’s core existence is not exemplified by her outer characteristics but by her inner self-identification, and also concerning the relevance of the acquired identity in the form of the name. It was held that an individual’s identity is one of the most highly guarded aspects of India’s constitutional framework.
The Bench also held that identity is an amalgamation of various internal and external factors, including acquired characteristics, and that a person’s name can be considered one of the most important indicators of identity. As a result, it was decided that an individual must have entire authority over their name and that the law must allow them to retain and exercise such right freely “at all times.” It was thought that such control would eventually encompass an individual’s desire to be known by a different name for a good cause.
The Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, according to the Court. To put it another way, the Supreme Court decided that expression of identity is a protected aspect of Freedom of Expression under the Constitution.
Facts of the case
- Jigya is a minor who has brought a writ suit against CBSE to the High Court through her father, Hari Singh. She claimed that there has been an error in the recording of the name of her parents and so she should be permitted to change it.
- Her attorney claims that one of the C.B.S.E. Examination bye-laws prohibits any correction in the name of either the candidate or their parents. Jigya’s parents’ names were wrongly recorded as Hari Singh Yadav and Mamta Yadav instead of Hari Singh and Mamta Yadav. They presented Jigya’s birth certificate, which listed their names as the latter rather than the former. It has been argued before the Court that denying the Petitioner the opportunity to amend an unintended error will result in a breach of the Petitioner’s fundamental Right to Education, as well as her freedom to travel for higher study.
- CBSE asserted that they rely on information provided by schools and that they may only make changes to the information that fits school records.
- The evidence presented before the Court demonstrated that the Petitioner’s parents chose to furnish the school with the names listed in the CBSE documents deliberately and systematically. The Court rejected the plea, holding that the writ cannot challenge the bye-laws’ constitutional validity because the Petitioner’s parents are themselves at fault.
- Jigya Yadav assailed the decision of the High Court of Delhi, in W.P. (C) No. 3774/2010, dated 20.12.2010 wherein the High Court rejected the prayer for direction to the Board to carry out the correction of her parents’ name in the mark sheets issued by it. The Petitioner then preferred an appeal before the Supreme Court of India.
- Article 14 of the Constitution- It provides that no one has the right to be denied equality or equal protection under the law. It also states that no one can be discriminated against because of their gender, caste, religion, or other factors.
- Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution- It guarantees that every individual has the right to engage in any vocation, trade, or enterprise in any region of the country.
- Article 21 of the Constitution- It declares that no individual’s Right to Life and Personal Liberty, which is guaranteed by the Constitution to every citizen of our country, should be violated unless the procedure established by law is followed.
- Article 226 of the Constitution- It discusses the authority that the high courts have in terms of issuing writs. It states that every high court will have the authority to issue orders, writs, or directions to any individual, authority, or even government in appropriate cases within the territories where they exercise their jurisdiction, for either the enforcement of any right granted by Part III of the Constitution or any other law.
- Bye-law 69.1 of the C.B.S.E. Examination bye-laws– This Bye-law states that once a name or surname has been registered in the Board’s certificate, no changes can be made. However, a student’s or guardian’s name or surname (mother/father/guardian) can be modified only to the extent of correcting spelling errors or factual typographical errors and only to the extent that it is consistent with the records submitted by the school.
- Whether the CBSE Examination bye-laws have any legal standing?
- Whether examination bylaws impose appropriate restrictions on the exercise of rights under Article 19 of the Constitution, such as failing the test of rationality by narrowing the scope of permissible corrections/changes excessively?
- Whether the Board is required to make adjustments or revisions to the certifications it has issued as a result of public record corrections or updates?
Arguments on behalf of the Petitioner and Respondent
- It had been argued before the Court that denying the Petitioner the opportunity to amend an unintended error will result in a breach of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to education, as well as her freedom to travel for higher study.
- The counsel for the Respondent argued that C.B.S.E. is an autonomous and independent body that does not fall within the definition of State and thus, will not comply with the writ jurisdiction. He further stated that it is an autonomous society that is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, is self-funded, and is governed by its own set of rules and regulations.
- In response to the Respondent, the counsel for the Petitioner stated that C.B.S.E. will fall under the jurisdiction of the State under Article 12. The counsel stated that there have been numerous instances in which the question of whether or not a body is regarded as a state has been debated. The counsel cited two such cases, Ajay Hasia and Ors. v. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi and Ors., (1980) and Pradeep Kumar Biswas v. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology and Ors. (2002) and stated that if a body performs a public function or if the State or even the Central Government exercises deep and pervasive control over that body, it falls under the ambit of the State under Article12.
- The Petitioners have questioned the legality of bye-law 69.1 in their appeal. They claim that the challenged bye-law gives them no remedy for correcting their parents’ names. They’ve also labelled these bye-laws as arbitrary because they don’t take into account the troubles that they cause pupils. The Petitioner’s attorney claims that even if an inadvertent error has been committed, the Petitioner should be allowed to amend it rather than being forced to repeat the mistake.
- The counsel for the Petitioner further claimed that C.B.S.E. is abusing its authority and restricting it for the sake of efficiency, thereby creating injustice to the Petitioner. In order to demonstrate that this is unjust, the counsel referenced the following cases: Indian Aluminium Company v. Kerala State Electricity Board (1975), J.K. Aggarwal v. Haryana Seeds Development Corporation Ltd. & Ors. (1990) and Dhruva Parate v. CBSE & Anr (2009). The Petitioner’s lawyer argued that these measures would impair the Petitioner’s Right to Education, her profession, and her option to travel for higher study and that they would be a violation of her fundamental rights.
- The Respondent’s counsel stated that C.B.S.E. does not have the authority or resources to independently check the details of every candidate and that they must rely on the records provided by the schools.
Judgement of the High Court of Delhi
- In the case of Anandi Mukta Sadguru Shree Muktajee Vandas Swami Suvarna Jayanti M Mahotsav Smarak Trust and Ors. v. V.R. Rudani and Ors. (1989), along with the case of U.P. State Co-operative Land Development Bank Ltd. V. Chandra Bhan Dubey and Ors. (1998), the Court stated that as per Article 226, the expression “any person or authority” mentioned in the Article will not only be confined to the statutory authorities and instrumentalities of the State but will also cover all those bodies which perform a public duty.
- The case was referred to as Binny Ltd. & Anr. v. V. Sadasivan & Ors. (2005) by the Court. The Supreme Court ruled that even private bodies responsible for performing public-sector functions are subject to writ jurisdiction under Article 226. The writ will be regarded as maintainable against C.B.S.E. since writs can be filed against private bodies that perform public functions or perform public responsibilities.
- The Court ruled that any executive agency acting within its discretionary authority cannot limit its own powers.
- The Court determined that the evidence presented to them showed that the Petitioner’s parents did not make an unintentional error when entering their names in the school records, as they consistently filled their names as Hari Singh Yadav and Mamta Yadav and not Hari Singh and Mamta in all school documents, including admission forms.
- The Court concluded in its final judgement that the Petitioner’s parents knowingly and subsequently chose to enter in their names in the school records as Hari Singh Yadav and Mamta Yadav. The Court, further, stated that the current petition cannot address the legitimacy of the bye-laws because the Petitioner’s parents are at fault and have made the same mistake on several occasions Even if the regulations had allowed it, the Court concluded that the change of names should not have been allowed because they elected to complete those names on their own volition and account. It was done by invoking the case of Mrutunjoy Pani & Anr. v. Narmada Bala Sasmal & Anr. (1961). The Court observed that the practice of submitting petitions to dispute the legality of statutes, rules, and bye-laws on the grounds that they are arbitrary and unconstitutional has grown increasingly common, even when the Petitioners’ conduct is not blameless.
Judgement of the Supreme Court
- The Supreme Court, depreciating the reasoning used by the High Court in granting the petitions, found that the challenged judgements expressly state that the request for amendments could not be granted under the Byelaws. As a result, it was determined that there was no demonstration or investigation to determine the existence of any legal claim in students’ favour. Even if the Supreme Court assumes that the High Court issued instructions only on the basis of fundamental rights, it was held that there was no discussion or investigation done in this regard.
- It was further held that, in view of the High Court’s violation of fundamental rights, there is no attempt to analyse the Bye-law’s viability. The Court decided that, in the absence of an adverse ruling on the legitimacy of the applicable rules, the fundamental principle of the rule of law requires that they be given their intended effect. Even if a constitutional court believes that the situation merits an unusual remedy, it may do so using Article 226’s broad powers, but only after a thorough examination of the facts and after showing the case’s extraordinary character.
- It was decided that while CBSE certificates are not strictly intended to be used as identification documents, they are used for corroborative purposes in all academic and career-related transactions as foundational documents. The date of birth on a matriculation certificate, in particular, is considered primary evidence of a citizen’s date of birth. As a result, it was decided that when it comes to the information contained in a CBSE certificate, the Board must give students the flexibility to change it if they follow certain criteria that are reasonable in nature.
- Further, it was held that since all other State authorities could allow it for the preservation of consistency and accuracy while also enabling citizens to exercise their rights freely, there was no reason for CBSE to deny students that freedom. It was held primarily in the interest of CBSE’s own credibility that their records be seen as accurate and up-to-date records of a student, worthy of being relied upon for official purposes.
- As a result, the Supreme Court concluded that the provision permitting name change ‘post-publication of examination results’ is overly restrictive and imposes undue limits on the exercise of Article 19 rights. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, found that the provision for changing one’s name is clearly distinguishable from those for correcting one’s name or date of birth and that its decision will have no bearing on them save for the limitation period condition.
- Furthermore, it was held that a request for a ‘change’ of particulars in a CBSE certificate presupposes that the particulars intended to be reflected in the CBSE certificate are inconsistent with school records. A request like this could be made in two scenarios. The first is based on public documents such as birth certificates, Aadhaar cards, and election cards, and to include changes in the CBSE certificate in accordance with them. The second scenario is when the request for change is made as a result of a later-acquired name by choice. It was decided that the candidate’s name change did not need to be supported by public documentation.
- Returning to the first category, the Supreme Court determined that there is a legal presumption in connection to public materials, as defined by the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. As a result, it was decided that CBSE could not ignore such public documents. Taking such papers into account, CBSE was found to be in a position to consider the request for a revision in the certificate it had given. However, it was decided that in the latter situation, where the change is to be made on the basis of a newly acquired name without any supporting school records or public documents, the request may be granted if a prior permission/declaration by a court of law and publication in the Official Gazette is taken, as well as the surrender/return of the original certificate.
The appeals were disposed of by the Supreme Court with the aforementioned terms and instructions.
Directions given by the Supreme Court
- The CBSE is responsible for processing requests for corrections or changes to certificates issued by it in the situations under review.
- Other pending applications and future requests for such requests will be treated in accordance with the Court’s decision in this matter, as appropriate, until the relevant bye-laws are amended.
- In addition, the CBSE will take urgent efforts to revise its relevant Bye-laws to include the aforesaid process for recording corrections or changes, as the case may be, in the certificates it has previously issued or will issue.
Analysis of the case
Does one have the legal right to change the name
A person’s name is an essential part of their identity. Identity is made up of a variety of internal and external factors, including acquired qualities, and a person’s name is one of the most important indicators of identity. As a result, an individual must have entire authority over their name, and the law must allow individuals to preserve and exercise that right freely at all times. Such control would invariably include an individual’s aspiration to be known by a different name for a just cause.
Any change in an individual’s identity must go through a series of phases, and it cannot be considered complete until all of those steps have been completed. At any point in time, a human may self-identify with any title or epithet. However, unless and until the State and its agencies record the change of identity, it will not be considered formally or legally complete. After all, in the social realm, individuals are identified not only by how they define themselves but also by how their official documents identify them. Because official documents introduce a person by their name and other pertinent information in every public transaction involving that person.
However, given the nature provided under Article 19, the right to have a changed name recorded in official (public) records cannot be an absolute right, and as a matter of public policy and larger public interest, certain reasonable restrictions are required to ensure consistency and avoid confusion and deception.
Do bye-laws infringe a person’s fundamental right to change their identity
The concerned Bye-law is based on the presumption that there would never be a justifiable reason for a student to change their name after the results have been published. Only typographical or factual errors are expected in the certificates, which can be addressed using the provision for corrections.
There may be a variety of circumstances in which a name change is a genuine requirement, and the Board must allow a reasonable chance to make such adjustments while keeping the ultimate goal of maintaining the educational standard in mind.
In addition, the balance of convenience would favour students because they stand to lose more money as a result of certificate mistakes than the Board, which is more concerned with raising administrative costs.
While the Board’s obligation to take additional administrative burdens is undeniably onerous, the risk of a student losing employment chances as a result of an incorrect certificate is unparalleled.
A board charged with maintaining educational standards cannot claim authority over the identities of pupils enrolled with it. The Right to Control One’s Identity must be retained by the individual, subject to reasonable limitations.
What types of requests are acceptable
Where the incumbent wants ‘correction’ in the certificate issued by the CBSE:
- There is no reason for the CBSE to refuse such a request or to impose any conditions other than a fair time limit, taking into account the time period for which the CBSE is required to store its records under current regulations.
- While doing so, it can absolutely require the incumbent to comply with other requirements, such as filing a signed affidavit making the requisite statement and indemnifying the CBSE from any lawsuit brought against it by a third party as a result of the correction.
- The CBSE would be justified in demanding the surrender/return of the original certificate (or duplicate original certificate, as the case may be) issued by it in order to replace it with a new certificate issued after necessary corrections have been made, with a caption/annotation indicating the changes made and the date of such correction.
- It may keep the original entries as it is, with the exception of correction of names made in the exercise of the Right to be Forgotten.
- The new certificate may additionally include a disclaimer stating the CBSE is not responsible for the authenticity of the school documents submitted by the incumbent in support of the request to rectify the record in the original CBSE certificate.
- The CBSE can also demand that the incumbent pay appropriate statutory costs in lieu of administrative charges for issuing a new certificate.
- At the same time, the CBSE cannot make it a condition to petition for corrections in accordance with school records only before the results are published. A condition like this would be irrational and overbearing.
- If the application for recording correction is based on school records obtained at the time of the CBSE’s publication of results and issuance of the certificate, the CBSE may set a reasonable time limit within which the application for recording correction in the certificate issued by it may be considered.
- However, if the request for recording change is based on updated school records after the CBSE has published the results and issued the certificate, the applicant is eligible to seek for recording change within the CBSE’s reasonable limitation time. In this case, the candidates cannot argue that they were unaware of the change in the school records because such a change would almost certainly occur at their request.
- If a student files such an application for school-record correction, they are expected to apply to the CBSE as soon as the school records are corrected, which should be done within a reasonable period.
Indeed, the CBSE would have the option of rejecting the application if the period for preserving official documents under the current regulations had elapsed and no record of the applicant in question could be traced or recreated.
In the case of later amendments to school records, this could happen for a variety of reasons, including the candidate’s decision to change his or her name. To put it another way, a request to CBSE to record a change in the certificate issued to bring it in accordance with the incumbent’s school records does not have to be made prior to the CBSE’s publication of examination results.
The Supreme Court ordered the CBSE to “process the applications for correction or alteration, as the case may be, in the certificate issued by it in the respective cases under consideration.” The CBSE’s bye-laws were also amended to “incorporate the specified procedure for recording correction or alteration, as the case may be, in the certificates previously issued or to be issued by it”.
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