Sunday, January 29, 2023

Name change of student allowed by Delhi High Court, says it is ‘right to freedom of speech & expression’

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Delhi High Court has directed Delhi University that a changed name of a student has to be mentioned in the degree certificate saying “changed name alias/nee/earlier name”. The court said that this would avoid any confusion in the two names.

Justice Jayant Nath noted that if the University

“…was to change the name in their record and in the degree to be given to the petitioner as Rayaan Chawla, it would create some confusion inasmuch as the CBSE certificates/records would show the name of Rayaan Singh, i.e. the former name of the petitioner.”

The petition has been filed by a DU student pursuing B.A. Philosophy (Hons.) seeking quashing of notification issued by the Delhi University mandating a student to obtain change of name in the records of the Central Board of Secondary Education as a prerequisite for change of name in the records of DU.

The petitioner submitted that the petitioner was informed by University’s officials that as per the impugned notification, it is mandatory for the students desirous of seeking a change of name to get their name changed from CBSE/other State Boards first. Whereas, CBSE also states that application for change in name would be considered only before the publication of the result of the candidate.

The DU in its counter-affidavit submitted that the University has framed a policy for change of name of its students which has been approved by the Executive Council. The Executive Council is a Statutory Body and its resolutions have the force of law. The resolutions of the Executive Council are passed after much deliberation as per the opinion of experts in the field.

I was further mentioned that “as per the resolution of Executive Council for change of name, the applicant has to fulfill the following requirements:

a)      Application for change of name will be entertained only when the applicant is a student of University of Delhi at the time of applying for change of name. Application for change of name from a person who is not a student of the University at the time of submission of application or who has already completed his/her course of study shall not be considered.

b)      To get his/her name changed from CBSE/State Boards/other related Boards first,

c)       Original Copy of the Government of India Gazette Notification about the change of name;

d)      Newspaper cutting (in Originals) as proof of the advertisement published with regard to change of name in at least two leading Indian daily newspaper.”

The counsel appearing for the University submitted that “The petitioner or his mother could have easily taken all steps for proposed change of name before he appeared in 10th and 12 Class Board Examinations. He has however not taken any steps at that stage and cannot now be allowed to impugn the resolution of Executive Council.”

The counsel appearing for the petitioner relied upon Judgment in the case of Jigya Yadav v. CBSE MANU/DE/3700/2010 in which a divisional bench held that the change of name can only take place with effect from the date when the name is changed and not from a backdateIn addition to this the counsel argued that the stand of the University insisting that the change of name be done in the CBSE records tantamounts to doing the impossible the task, namely, changing the name in the record of CBSE when at that time when the petitioner took the CBSE exams the name of the petitioner was ‘Rayaan Singh’.

The bench observed that

to have a name and to express the same in the manner he wishes, is a part of the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a) as well as right to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It cannot be denied that the right to change a name is a protected right and the petitioner would normally be not denied the said right on technical issues.”

However, the bench noted that the issuance of revised certificates with changed name as sought by the petitioner therein would create a discrepancy and reflect a status which did not exist at the time of issuance of the certificates thereof.

Also Read: The incredible journey of legal aid in independent India

The court has directed the University to change the name on the following terms “that on change of name it would be stated as “changed name alias/nee earlier name”. It would be appropriate that respondent No.1/University of Delhi may change the name of the petitioner in their records/in the degree that may be given in future to the petitioner as above. Such a course of action would avoid any confusion in the two names, which would be seen on the records of CBSE and of University of Delhi/appropriate documents issued by the said entities.”

Read the judgment here;


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