Permissible To Change Surname To Avoid Prejudices Attached To A Particular Caste, Right To Life Includes ‘Right To Identity’: Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal

12 Jun 2023 8:53 AM GMT

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  • Permissible To Change Surname To Avoid Prejudices Attached To A Particular Caste, Right To Life Includes ‘Right To Identity’: Delhi High Court

    Observing that right to identity is an intrinsic part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the Delhi High Court has said that it is permissible for an individual to change his or her surname to be not able to be identified with any particular caste “that may be a cause of prejudice” to such person. The change will not lead to advantage of any reservation or any other benefit that...

    Observing that right to identity is an intrinsic part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the Delhi High Court has said that it is permissible for an individual to change his or her surname to be not able to be identified with any particular caste “that may be a cause of prejudice” to such person. The change will not lead to advantage of any reservation or any other benefit that may be available to the adopted caste/surname, said the court.

    “The Right to Identity is an intrinsic part of Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. There is no denying the fact that Right to Life includes within its ambit, the Right to Live with Dignity, which includes not to be tied down by any casteism that a person may face on account of the caste to which such person belongs. Thus, if a person wants to change his or her surname, so as not to be identified with any particular caste that may be a cause of prejudice to such person in any manner, the same is permissible,” Justice Mini Pushkarna held in a judgment passed on May 19.

    The court was hearing a plea moved by two brothers challenging the letter issued by Central Board of Secondary Education on June 01, 2017, refusing to change their father’s surname in their 10th and 12th board certificates.

    Name of their father in their Class 10th and 12th Certificates issued by the CBSE was reflected as “Lakshman Mochi.” It was their case that their father decided to change his surname from “Mochi to “Nayak” due to caste atrocities suffered by him on a day to day basis and that he published a note in the newspaper about change of his name for all future purposes.

    The court was apprised that his name was changed from “Lakshman Mochi” to “Lakshman Nayak” by way of publication in the Gazette of India.

    On the other hand, the counsel appearing for CBSE submitted that the change in the surname of the brothers would entail change in their caste which could be misused. It was further contended that the brothers were seeking change of their father’s name which was beyond the school records and thus, was impermissible.

    Granting relief to the brothers, the court observed that the denial by CBSE for carrying out the requisite change in their certificates was totally unjustified.

    “It is to be noted that the petitioners have every right to have an identity which gives them an honourable and respectable identity in the society. If the petitioners have suffered any disadvantage on account of their surname and have faced social prejudices due to the same, they are certainly entitled to change of their identity that gives respectability to the petitioners in the societal structure,” the court said.

    It noted that the father had already carried out the change in his surname by way of publication in Gazette Notification and that the new surname was duly reflected in various public documents issued by Government agencies.

    Therefore, there is no justification in not allowing similar change in the 10th and 12th CBSE Certificates issued in favour of the petitioners, to reflect the correct name of their father, the court said.

    Quashing the impugned letter, the court directed CBSE to forthwith carry out the requisite changes in the 10th and 12th Certificates of the petitioner brothers to reflect the changed name of their father.

    However, it clarified that the change in the surname in the CBSE Certificates shall entail only the change in their father’s name and not the change of their caste for them to take advantage of any reservation or other benefit available to the changed caste or surname.

    Title: SADANAND AND ANR. v. CENTRAL BOARD OF SECONDARY EDUCATION AND ORS.

    Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 509

    Click Here To Read Order



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