CBSE performs public functions, to process requests for change of students’ particulars: SC

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New Delhi, June 3 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the CBSE to process the applications for correction or change in name on the certificates issued by it, saying it is an intrinsic element of identity even as it quoted William Shakespeare’s 'Romeo and Juliet' iconic line -- “What's in a name?”.

The top court directed the Central Board of Secondary Education to take immediate steps to amend its relevant Byelaws so as to incorporate the stated mechanism for recording correction or change, as the case may be, in the certificates already issued or to be issued by it.

It held that the CBSE cannot impose precondition of applying for correction consistent with the school records only before publication of results as such a condition, would be “unreasonable” and “excessive”.

It said that CBSE, despite being packaged as a society, is performing an essential public function for the government since its establishment in 1929 and its byelaws have the force of law and must be regarded as such for all legal purposes.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari said that there is no reason for the CBSE to turn down such requests or attach any precondition except reasonable period of limitation and keeping in mind the period for which the CBSE has to maintain its record under the extant regulations.

“In light of the above, in exercise of our plenary jurisdiction, we direct the CBSE to process the applications for correction or change, as the case may be, in the certificate issued by it in the respective cases under consideration,” the bench said, while disposing of a batch of 22 petitions led by a student Jigya Yadav, related to corrections or change of particulars of students in the certificates issued by CBSE.

The top court said that in doing so, the board can certainly insist for compliance of other conditions by the incumbent (student), such as, to file sworn affidavit making necessary declaration and to indemnify the CBSE from any claim.

The bench in 132-page verdict said that the CBSE would be justified in insisting for surrender/return of the original certificate (or duplicate original certificate, as the case may be) issued by it for replacing it with the fresh certificate to be issued after carrying out necessary corrections with caption/annotation against the changes carried out and the date of such correction.

“It may retain the original entries as it is except in respect of correction of name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten. The fresh certificate may also contain disclaimer that the CBSE cannot be held responsible for the genuineness of the school records produced by the incumbent in support of the request to record correction in the original CBSE certificate,” the bench said.

The bench, however, said that if the request for recording change is based on changed school records post the publication of results and issue of certificate by the CBSE, the candidate would be entitled to apply for recording such a change within the reasonable limitation period prescribed by the CBSE.

“In this situation, the candidate cannot claim that she had no knowledge about the change recorded in the school records because such a change would occur obviously at her instance. If she makes such application for correction of the school records, she is expected to apply to the CBSE immediately after the school records are modified and which ought to be done within a reasonable time,” it said.

The top court detailing the modalities for such procedure, said that it would be open to the CBSE rejecting the application in the event the period for preservation of official records under the extant regulations had expired and no record of the candidate concerned is traceable or can be reconstructed.

It said that request for recording of correction in the certificate issued by the CBSE to bring it in line with the school records of the incumbent need not be limited to application made prior to publication of examination results of the CBSE.

Dealing with the request for “change” of particulars in the certificate issued by the CBSE, the bench said that it presupposes that the particulars intended to be recorded in the CBSE certificate are not consistent with the school records.

It said change of particulars in the certificate could be in two different scenarios--on the basis of public documents like birth certificate, Aadhaar card/election card and when the request for change is due to the acquired name by choice at a later point of time, which need not be backed by public documents pertaining to the candidate.

It said in the first category, such public documents cannot be ignored by the CBSE and by taking note of those documents; the board may entertain the request for recording change in the certificate issued by it.

It said that in the case of second situation where the change is to be effected on the basis of new acquired name without any supporting school record or public document, that request may be entertained upon insisting for prior permission/ declaration by a Court of law in that regard and publication in the Official Gazette. PTI MNL SJK SA

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