Patna High Court: In a case wherein Regional Passport Officer was not issuing a fresh passport to a girl due to her wrong date of birth, a Single Judge Bench of Purnendu Singh, J. held that the date of birth mentioned in Matriculation Certification granted by CBSE must be accorded highest preference and directed the Regional Passport Officer to issue fresh passport to a girl by correcting her date of birth.
The petitioner’s case was that the earlier passport issued in 1998 in the petitioner’s name expired in 2008, and at that time, the petitioner was a minor, and the passport was applied for by her father. The petitioner, after the passport’s expiry, applied for a fresh passport in the office of Regional Passport Officer, Patna in 2013. In the said application, according to the petitioner, she had given her correct name and correct date of birth as recorded in her matriculation certificate duly granted to her by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), New Delhi. The Regional Passport Officer, Patna after scrutinizing the application of the petitioner asked her to furnish an order of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Patna for correction of date of birth from 5-8-1993 to 5-8-1994.
The petitioner had then filed a declaratory suit for change of her name and her date of birth which was partly allowed by the Munsif-III, Patna stating that she was entitled to change only her name. The petitioner had then again filed an application for issuance of fresh passport in 2017 before passing of the order in appeal and without disclosing the facts about the previous passport and the passport application filed in 2013. The petitioner was penalized for a fine of Rs. 1000 and file of the year 2013 was closed in 2017. The petitioner filed an appeal before the District Judge, Patna, which was dismissed in November 2017. Hence, the petitioner filed the present writ petition.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The issue for consideration was “whether in the facts and circumstances of the case, the petitioner was entitled for a change in her date of birth from 5-8-1993 to 5-8-1994?”.
The Court noted that the rejection by the Passport Office was on the ground that the competent court of civil jurisdiction has held that “the petitioner was not entitled for her change of date of birth and this Court under Articles 226 and 227 had jurisdiction to set aside the judgment and decree passed by the Trial Court and the Appellate Court”.
The Court opined that the Passport Office was required to consider their own circular in which special concession has been made in case of minors and the Passport Office failed to appreciate the fact that the petitioner was minor on the date when first passport was issued to her. The Court further opined that “this Court found grave injustice had been caused to the petitioner in so far as the Trial Court holding that the petitioner was not entitled for change of date of birth in passport. In view of the settled principles of law, if two views were possible, then the Court should lean in favour of a beneficial approach” and therefore, held that in the present case the Matriculation Certificate granted by the CBSE based on the records of High School and date of birth mentioned therein must be accorded highest preference.
The Court noted that the date of birth recorded in the first passport was based on the father of petitioner, when she was child (minor) at the time of filing of the first application for passport. The Trial Court had, in fact, not relied upon the impeccable piece of evidence, that is, the certificate issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education which was a public document. Therefore, the Court held that it would not refrain from setting aside the orders passed by the Trial Court and the Appellate Court.
The Court held that in view of the guidelines of the Ministry of External Affairs contained in Circular No. VI/401/2/5/2001 dated 26-11-2015, the judgment and decree of the Trial Court and Appellate Court were set aside. The Court further directed the Regional Passport Officer to consider the application of the petitioner for issuance of fresh passport and correct her date of birth based on the birth certificate issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education. The Court further held that in view of Jigya Yadav v. Central Board of Secondary Education, (2021) 7 SCC 535, all such public authorities were expected to process other pending applications and future applications seeking change / correction expeditiously to avoid hardship and unnecessary litigation.
[Nida Amina Ahmad v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine Pat 485, decided on 21-2-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the Petitioner: Senior Advocate Amit Shrivastava;
Advocate Arif Daula Sidduqui;
Advocate Girish Pandey;
For the Respondent: Senior Advocate Dr. Krishna Nandan Singh (ASG);
Advocate Ram Tujabh Singh.
*Judgment authored by: Justice Purnendu Singh.