Right to Change Name is a Fundamental Right under Article 19: Allahabad HC

Recently, the Allahabad High Court has held that a change of name is an expression which is guaranteed under Article 191 (a) of the Constitution.

Background of the case:

The observation mentioned above was made when the Court heard a writ petition filed by Mr Kabir Jaiswal who had appeared for his class XII and XI CBSE exams as Rishu Jaiswal.

The petitioner published a notice in the Gazette of India for changing his name to Kabir Jaiswal from Rishu Jaiswal. The petitioner also claimed that he has got his name changed in his PAN Card, Aadhar Card and has even got an official Gazette notification.

However, when he tried to get his name changed in his CBSE certificates, his request was rejected by the Board by stating that the name change has not been reflected in the school records.

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Arguments raised by the parties:

Counsel for the petitioner argued that once a gazette notification has been issued without any objections, it means that an announcement has been made to the world in rem that the petitioner intends to change his name.

Therefore, the Board has no reason to change his name in the CBSE certificates.

On the other hand, Counsel for CBSE contended that the name could not be changed due to Rule Nos. 69.1(i) & 69(1)(ii) of examination bye-laws. 

As per the Rules, to get the approval of a name change, a request has to be made to the Board either prior or after the publication of the result and the request will only be approved if there is variance in the intended name and the name mentioned in school’s records.

Reasoning of the Court

The Court rejected the argument of the CBSE and noted that as per the two rules, the name of the candidate/father’s name/mothers’ name could not be changed after the declaration of result.

Reliance was placed on Delhi High Court’s ruling in Rayaan Chawla vs University of Delhi & Ors wherein the University on the basis of the notification dated 01/07/2015 had refused to change the name of the petitioner by stating that firstly, the petitioner has to get his name changed in CBSE records.

The Court had further held that the name could not be changed in CBSE records as the rules do not permit the same and directed the Delhi University to record the change name as changed name alias/ earlier name in its records.

While going through the facts of the case, Allahabad High Court also noted the Byelaws and Rules of the CBSE did not have any statutory flavour.

It was further noted that as per Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution fundamental rights can be restricted or taken away only as per the procedure prescribed in Article 19(2) of Constitution of India.

Right to Change Name is a Fundamental Right under Article 19

The Court held that CBSE Regulations could not be considered a law if they infringe upon freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.

After referring to Rayaan Chawla case, the Court directed to change the name of the petitioner to his new name Kabir Jaiswal and to issue him fresh certificates with the new name, within two months.

Case Details:

Title: Kabir Jaiswal vs Union of India & Ors

Case No.: Writ No. 19287 of 2020

Date of Order:02.12.2020

Coram: Hon’ble Justice Pankaj Bhatia

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