CITATION: W.P.(C) No. 3774/2010 & CM 7565/2010
C.A No. 3905 of 2011, 3572 of 2019 (2021)
BENCH: Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Krishna Murari
PETITIONERS: Jigya Yadav (Minor) through Mr. Hari Singh (Guardian/father)
RESPONDENT: CBSE and Ors.
In the case Jigya Yadav thru her father v CBSE and Ors (2021), the petitioner had filed a writ through her father alleging that CBSE’s bye-laws stating that information in the CBSE’s certificate cannot be changed, is not constitutionally valid. It was observed by the Supreme Court that an individual’s identity is one of the highly guarded aspects of India’s constitutional framework. The Honourable Court also said that an individual’s existence is not exemplified by one’s characteristics but by their self-identification (iPleaders, Para 3). In other words, the Supreme Court stated that expression of identity is a protected aspect of freedom of expression under the Constitution of India.
The Petitioner filed a writ of memorandum filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against the Respondents. The Petitioner had claimed that there was an error in the recording of her parent’s name and that she should be allowed to change it. Her father’s name was incorrect. It was written as Hari Singh Yadav instead of Hari Singh. Under CBSE’s bye-laws, students cannot change their personal information after two years when the results come out. Therefore, they were not allowed to make necessary changes. They then presented the Petitioner’s birth certificate which listed her father’s name as the latter rather than the former one. It had been argued that denying the opportunity to correct an unintended mistake will breach the Petitioner’s Right to Education as well as her freedom to travel abroad for higher study. According to the High Court, the evidence presented before it showed that the parents deliberately and continuously entered their name as follows, that is, Hari Singh Yadav, instead of the correct one [2021 (4) KHC SN 3 (Page No. 33)]. Therefore, it dismissed the petition for correction of the Petitioner’s parent’s name. The Petitioner then preferred an appeal before the Supreme Court where the Court decided that correction of name must be allowed (iPleaders, Facts of the case, Para 5).
Whether bye-laws have any legal force?
Whether denying the right of correction of name not breaching fundamental rights?
Whether a student should suffer for the mistakes committed by the parent?
Whether the Board of Examination is obliged to carry out corrections or changes in the certificate issued by it owing to public records/documents which have statutory presumption of genuineness?
Whether a writ of mandamus can be issued for effecting corrections in CBSE bye-laws?
They argued that a student must be allowed to correct their name in their school records and that the CBSE bye-laws are arbitrary and therefore, breaching their Fundamental Rights.
To prove that the respondent’s acts is unjust, the counsel referred to Indian Aluminium Company v Kerala State Electricity Board (1975 AIR 1967, 1976 SCR (1) 70), J.K Aggarwal v Haryana seeds Development Corporation Ltd. and Ors (1990) (1991 AIR 1221, 1990 SCR Supl. (3) 13) and Dhruva Parate v CBSE and Anr (2009) (W.P.(C) 3577/2008, in the High Court of Delhi in New Delhi) (iPleaders, arguments on behalf of the Petitioner, Para 5). They argued that CBSE’s bye-laws are meant for regulating purposes and that denying name correction should not be considered valid. According to Article 13, the Examination by-laws is not “law” [2021 (4) KHC SN 3 (Page No. 39)]. Hence, the regulation stating that once a name or surname has been registered in the Board’s certificate, no changes can be made, is arbitrary. The regulation stating so must not be taken as the final say.
Under Article 12, the Examination Board comes under the ambit of State. Citing Ajay Hasia and Ors v Khalid Mujib Sehravadi and Ors. (1981 AIR 487, 1981 SCR (2) 79) and Pradeep Kumar Biswas v Indian Institute of Chemical Biology and Ors (2002) (Appeal (civil) 992 of 2002) (iPleaders, Arguments on behalf of the Petitioner, Para 3), the counsel stated that the examination board is a public authority functioning in public interest for performing public functions. Hence, the bye-laws can be amended. They further claimed that the name is being corrected and not changed in the documents. The 10th CBSE marksheet shows the father’s name as a different name upon referring it with documents like a Birth certificate as submitted. Therefore, the 1st Respondent must be allowed to correct the name referring to the documents used for identification [2021 (4) KHC SN 3, (Page No 34, Para 171)].
They argued that CBSE is an autonomous society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 is self-funded and is governed by its own set of rules and regulations. And that it does not come under the ambit of state under Article 12 of the Constitution of India therefore, it will not comply with the writ jurisdiction (indiankanoon, 2010 judgement, Para 7). They also argued that the petitioners ignored the mistake they were making and continued to fill the incorrect name till the Petitioner was a student at the school (indiankanoon, 2010 judgement, Para 8). According to Bye-law 69.1 of the CBSE Examination bye-laws, 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 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 (cbseacademic, Chapter 9, Section 69.1).
Justice A.M Khanwilkar stated that ‘there is no valid reason as to why CBSE must turn down a request for name correction. The bye-laws are simply for regulation and do not prevail over the students or the teachers. However, the CBSE can certainly insist for compliance from the students and parents such as, keeping a reasonable period of limitation and to file sworn affidavit making necessary declaration and to indemnify CBSE from any claim against it by third party because of such correction’ [2021 (4) KHC SN 3 (Page 33, Para 170 (g))]. The Bench further added that the Petitioner wishes to correct the name of her parent instead of changing it.
The Bench further added that if changes are permitted it does not ipso facto mean that the changes are given a retrospective effect [2021 (4) KHC SN 3 (Page 36, Para 161)]. The changes are prospective and the bye-laws provide such regulation to signify such a change. They provide for the requirement of adding an annotation or caption with the date of such a change along with the required particulars. This will prevent the use of subsequently altered documents as unchanged original records. The Bench also added that it is true that CBSE certificates are not meant to be considered as official documents; nonetheless they are still relied upon for confirmatory purposes in all academic and career related transactions as foundational documents [2021 (4) KHC SN 3 (Page No. 37, Para 148)].
The Supreme Court held that the Petitioner must be allowed to correct the Petitioner’s parent’s name after referring to the public documents. Similarly, it also held that the Respondent is obliged to carry out all the necessary procedures to make sure that the details are consistent with the relevant documents (indiankanoon, 2021 judgement, Para 172).
In Jigya Yadav through her father v CBSE, the Supreme Court established the importance of Article 19(1)(g) which grants an individual the right to engage in any vocation, trade or enterprise in any region or the country. The Honourable Supreme Court ordered CBSE to process the application and make the necessary corrections. The 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” (iPleaders, Conclusion).
This article is written by Kareena Eugene of The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India, Dehradun.