Right to Speech and Expression includes the Right to Change of Name, says Allahabad High Court

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Allowing a writ petition filed by Kabir Jaiswal (Kabir Jaiswal v. Union of India & Ors.), the Allahabad High Court, on Friday observed that Right of Expression includes Right to Change ones’ name, as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.

Brief Facts of the case

One Kabir Jaiswal filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court after he got a notice published in the Gazette of India regarding a change of name. The petitioner had appeared as Rishu Jaiswal for his (10+1) and (10+2) grade examination through CBSE Boards.

As the petitioner claims, while he got his name changed in all of his IDs, including his Aadhar Card and PAN Card, the Board of CBSE dismissed his request for a change of name in his board/CBSE certificates.

The request was rejected by the Board since

“the name change has not been reflected in any of the school records.”

Advocate Ram Sagar Yadav, representing the petitioner, contended that if and when a Gazette notification is issued, it is announced to the world. Hence, once the Gazette notification was issued to Kabir Jaiswal, the same had been announced to the world, in rem. He also contended that the Board had rejected Mr. Jaiswal’s application on “hyper-technical” bases, once the Gazette notification was presented to before the CBSE Board.

Advocate  HN Pandey on the other hand, while appearing as the counsel for the board, argued that as per the examination bye-laws, rule no. 69.1(i) and 69.1(ii), the board cannot adhere to the request made by the petitioner. The rules mentioned above, in short, state that if a person/student wants to get his/her name, his/her father’s name, his/her mother’s name changed, they are required to put in a request for the same before the result is published. The request for the same will only be approved if it is “at variance with the names so recorded in the School records”. 

The High Court Judgement

While referring to the judgement by the Delhi High Court in Rayaan Chawla v. University of Delhi& Anr., the Allahabad High Court rejected the argument put forth by the respondent ‘the rules do not permit for the change of name unless adhered with the guidelines accordingly”.

The Delhi High Court, in the Rayaan Chawla judgement, held that “to have a name and express the same” right is protected under article 19 and article 21, respectively.

During the hearing, the court noted that,

The right enshrined under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India are fundamental rights and can be taken away or restricted only in accordance with the procedure prescribed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India”,

while making a note of the fact that CBSE is a society since it is registered under the Societies Registration Act. the court also remarked that the rules laid down by CBSE do not have any ‘statutory flavour’.

While pointing out the fact that different names on documents will cause unwanted hardships to both of the parties, Allahabad HC issued a notice and directed CBSE to change the name of the petitioner to ‘Kabir Jaiswal alias/nee Rishu Jaiswal’ in their current records and to issue a new certificate to Kabir Jaiswal within 2 months of the order.


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