Delhi High Court Upholds the Right of a Child to Preserve His/Her Identity and Individuality Through Their Names

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The petitioners in the present matter are young persons who were aged between 19 years to 22 years when they had first approached the court. They are orphan and have been brought up in a safe and secure environment provided by Udayan Care Home under the directions issued by the Child Welfare Committee.

The petitioners were admitted to regular schools located in various parts of Delhi which were affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The petitioners cleared the Grade-X and Grade-XII from these schools. The petitioners at the time of filling the admission form used ‘Udayan’ as their surnames which is the name of the Home they were housed in. However, the petitioners want to change their surname now and had approached CBSE to delete the word “Udayan” from their names in their respective certificates. Since the CBSE did not oblige to the request, the petitioners moved the Court by way of the writ petition.

Submissions by the Respondent

It was submitted by the respondent in their counter affidavit that the request of the petitioners could not be entertained as the request for correction was made beyond the period of one year, commencing from the date of declaration of their Writ Petition.

Court’s Observation

The court stated that the core issue in front of them is to determine whether the word “Udayan” shall be dropped from the respective names of the petitioners.

The court alluded to the expression “unfamiliar terrain” while narrowing down the present issue as the CBSE’s Examination bye-laws do not deal with a situation where the change in name is sought by an abandoned or an orphaned child. The court stated that

The Examination bye-laws, facially, seem to cater to only those children who are born and raised in regular homes.

The court observed that the argument of the respondent that the petitioners have lost the opportunity to seek a change in their names was both pedantic and prosaic. The honourable court further referred to Article 7 and Article 8 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which provides that every child has a right to bear a name and via her or his name preserve her or his identity and individuality.

Delhi High Court, Delhi HC Allows Bail Application, Gaucher Disease, Eidgah Old Mustafabad CampThe court referred to the case of Jolly George Varghese v. Bank of Cochin and observed that as the provisions under Article 7 and Article 8 of UNCRC are not contrary to any municipal law, it shall be implemented in full-play.

The court opined that while exercising the power under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, the court is duty-bound to correct the wrong done to the petitioners. Hence, the petitioners are entitled to reclaim their individuality and identity by insisting on inclusion in their Grade-X and Grade-XII certificates, the name by which they wish to be known.

The court ordered the CBSE to delete the suffix ‘Udayan’ from the names of the petitioners as appearing in their grade-X and grade-XII certificates, as also, in the mark sheets generated qua the said grades. The court directed the petitioners to provide their grade-X and grade-XII certificates to the Board, within three weeks, in order to facilitate the changes to be made.


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