Ori HC | ‘There cannot be anything under the sun where mistake cannot creep in’: Court to decide genuineness of mistake

Orissa High Court: A Full Bench of K.S. Jhaveri, CJ and A.K Rath and Biswajit Mohanty, JJ. entertained a writ petition, which involved a detailed question of law which was, “Whether the change of the name of parents of candidate who had already appeared at the High School Certificate Examination and obtained the Board Certificate incorporating the names was permissible on the basis of a correction in the school record made subsequent to that date?”

Amicus Curiae, Gautam Mishra, placed reliance on Ranjit Kumar Mallick v. Director of Secondary Education, 1996 SCC OnLine Ori 289, where the Division Bench of same High Court directed the Board to correct father’s name of the petitioner in the certificate of the HSC Examination issued by the Board in favour of the petitioner. It was submitted that after Ranjit Kumar Mallick, the Board had issued a form for correction of original pass certificate. It was highlighted that, future of a student will be bleak in the event the mistake creeps in the certificate; he cannot be compelled to institute the suit, which is not an efficacious remedy. The Board has ancillary power to correct the father’s/mother’s name in the certificate. Further he relied upon the judgment in State of M.P. v. Pradeep Kumar, (2000) 7 CC 372, where the Supreme Court noted that, where a student’s career may be affected and a minor change may not affect the property rights of any of the parties, particularly when a change is sought for pursuing academic goals, relegating a party to the common law forum may not be an alternative efficacious remedy. In appropriate cases, the claim of the student may be entertained in a writ petition in case the Board/Directorate refuses to correct a genuine mistake. But then, when such claims are for the purpose of establishing property rights, the appropriate remedy may be the common law forum. Each case has to be examined keeping in mind the background facts of that particular case.

S.S. Rao, learned counsel for the State argued that the Regulation of the Board, has been framed under Section 21 of the Orissa Secondary Education Act, 1953. There was no provision in the Board’s Regulation for correction of names of candidate’s parents, who had appeared in the HSC Exam and had been issued with the certificate. In the absence of any such provision, change of name or surname of parents in whatever circumstances, except for clerical or printing mistake was not permissible in law and as such, no direction can be given to the Board to make such changes. He further submitted that any amendment can only be allowed by the approval of State. Correction of a mistake, clerical or otherwise cannot be equated with the change of father’s name, which requires factual adjudication hence, will be out of the purview of the Board. He further placed reliance on Rai Brij Raj Krishna v. S.K. Shaw, AIR 1951 SC 115, where the Supreme Court stated that by change of father’s/mother’s name several legal complications involving property rights, adoptions, securing of some benefit by changing of caste, overcoming the rigors of election law, which restricts number of children to contest may arise. It is open to the aggrieved party to approach the common law forum.

The Court observed that the website of the Board has a form which allows for correction of father’s name. Hence, the Board cannot take a stand that in the absence of regulation governing the field no correction can be made. It further directed that, application for correction of names shall be made within three years of the passing of HSC Exam so that authorities are not put to any difficulty. The application has to be made through the concerned Headmaster of the High School. The Court rejected opinion and submissions of the respondent with regard to correction of the records of the school in respect of parents’ name and was applicable when a student continues in the school and was not sent up for filling up the forms to appear the Board examination and not thereafter, as allowing this at a later stage may encourage unnecessary complication in cases like adoption.

It was held, “In view of the discussions made in the preceding paragraphs, we are in consensus ad idem that the ratio laid down in Ranjit Kumar Mallick is the correct enunciation of law. We do not find any valid reason to look into the matter afresh. The reference is answered accordingly.”[Satyasiva Sundar Nayak v. Board of Secondary Education, 2019 SCC OnLine Ori 193, decided on 13-05-2019]

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