In a recent judgment enabling a child's right to education, the Delhi High Court has directed the Central Board of Secondary Education to accommodate the special needs of orphans and homeless children in its Examination Bye-Laws.
While ordering the education body to accommodate the demand of Petitioners to claim their actual identities on their school certificate, the Single Bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher criticised CBSE for the stance taken by it in the present matter.
'This apart the stand of the CBSE is both pedantic and, to say the least, prosaic. A little imagination, zeal, and proactiveness by the concerned officials of the CBSE would have led them to the provisions of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and helped them find an answer to the present quandary.'
The order has come in a writ petition filed by a group of young persons, who are orphans and were assisted by a Childcare Home in receiving standard education from CBSE schools.
These persons, while getting the admissions, inadvertently used the name of the Childcare Home (Udayan) as their surnames. However, once they passed their board examinations and gained maturity, they approached CBSE for getting their surnames changed in school certificates and for the same to reflect their actual identities.
When they were denied the said relief, they approached the Delhi High Court asking it to direct CBSE to issue them fresh certificates with their actual surnames.
During the proceedings, Mr Atul Kumar, while appearing for the CBSE, had argued that change and/or correction in name of a candidate can be brought about only in terms of bye-law 69.1 (i) and (ii) of the Examination Bye-Law, 1995.
As per the said provision, it was submitted, the request for change in name can only be made within a period of one year commencing from the date of declaration of the result. Since the request of the Petitioners was moved after the Sid period, the same could not be entertained.
The court cited the facts of the present case as an 'unfamiliar terrain' as the CBSE's Examination bye-laws did not factor in a situation where the change in name is sought by an abandoned or an orphaned child. Further, the Examination bye-laws, facially, seem to cater to only those children who are born and raised in regular homes', the court highlighted.
'The fact that the CBSE has chosen to take a more unimaginative path is rather befuddling given the fact that it is one of the premier bodies in the
country that is mandated by law to work in the best interest of children', the court noted.
It was also highlighted by the court that the CBSE could've just taken recourse to Articles 7 and 8 of Child Rights Convention which says that every child has a right to bear a name and via her or his name preserve her or his identity and individuality.
In light of the said Articles of CRC and the parens patriae principle, the court noted that the CBSE could have accorded the necessary relief to the
Petitioners given the fact that cases involving abandoned (or even orphaned children) are not dealt with under the Examination bye-laws.
'The petitioners, in my view, 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 highlighted.