Allowing a writ petition filed by one Md Sameer Rao, Justice Ajay Bhanot quashed an order dated December 24, 2020, passed by the regional secretary, Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad (UP Board), regional office, Bareilly, UP, and directed the respondents to allow the application of the petitioner to change his name from “Shahnawaz” to “Md Sameer Rao” and to issue fresh high school and intermediate certificates incorporating the said change.
The petitioner had challenged the action of the UP Board rejecting his application requesting to get his name changed in the high school and intermediate examination certificates.
The court ruled that the right to keep a name of choice or change the name according to personal preference comes within the ambit of Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression), Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) and Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution of India. “The authorities arbitrarily rejected the application for change of name and misdirected themselves in law. The action of the authorities violates the fundamental rights of the petitioner guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a), Article 21 and Article 14 of the Constitution of India and is in the teeth of relevant regulations under the Uttar Pradesh Intermediate Education Act, 1921,” the court observed in its judgment dated May 25.
As per facts, the name of the petitioner was recorded as “Shahnawaz” in the high school and intermediate certificates issued by the UP Board in 2013 and 2015, respectively. In September-October 2020, he publicly disclosed his name change from “Shahnawaz” to “Md Sameer Rao” through legal means.
Thereafter, he applied for a change of his name from “Shahnawaz” to “Md Sameer Rao” to the respondent Board in the year 2020. The said application was declined by the impugned order (order under challenge) of the Board dated December 24, 2020.
It was the primary stand of the Board that relevant regulations contemplate that an application for change of name has to be filed within three years from when the candidate appeared in the examination. However, in this case, the application was filed seven years and five months after the petitioner appeared for the high school and intermediate examinations, respectively. The court did not accept the stand of the Board saying, “The restrictions contained in regulation are disproportionate and in the nature of prohibitions and fail the test of reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21 and Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The restrictions in the said regulation are arbitrary and infringe the fundamental right to choose and change one’s own name.”