Civil Appeal No. 5720 of 2021
Date of Judgement:
21 September 2021
Justice M R Shah
Justice A S Bopanna
Appellant – Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited
Respondents – T.P. Nataraja and Ors.
Application for changing of date of birth should be as per the regulation laid down. If the application suffers from delay and laches, it is liable to be rejected.
- Section 4 of the Karnataka State Servants (Determination of Age)Act, 1974 - Bar of alteration of age except under the Act.
- Section 5(2) of the Karnataka State Servants (Determination of Age)Act, 1974 - No such alteration to the advantage of a State servant shall be made unless he has made an application for the purpose, within three years from the date on which his age and date of birth is accepted and recorded in the service register or book or any other record of service, or within one year from the date of commencement of this Act, whichever is later.
- Section 6 of the Karnataka State Servants (Determination of Age) Act, 1974 - No court shall have jurisdiction to settle, decide or deal with any question which is required to be decided under this Act.
- The respondent herein worked with the appellant corporation and was appointed in the year 1984. The official documents provided by the respondent showed his date of birth as 04.01.1960. After 24 years of service,he applied for change of his date of birth to 14.01.1961. He then filed a suit of declaration before the Trial Court for declaration of his altered date of birth. This court referring to Section 5(2) of the Karnataka State Servants (Determination of Age) Act 1974 dismissed the suit.
- Aggrieved by the order, the respondent approached the High Court. The Court allowed the appeal and held that it was impossible for the appellant to comply with the three year threshold and accepted the respondent’s contention that the implementation of the Act was not made know to him. Aggrieved by this order, the corporation preferred appeal before the Supreme Court.
- The contention of the appellant was that the respondent took 24 years after his appointment, and 16 years after the implementation of the Act for modifying his date of birth and the High Court has passed an erroneous order by overlooking the conditions stipulated in the Act.
- The counsel for the respondent contended that the impugned judgement passed by the High Court was implemented and he had already reached the age of superannuation and thus the suit was infructuous.
- Whether Section 5(2) of the Karnataka State Servants (Determination of Age) Act, 1974 be strictly followed for application for altering of the employee date of birth?
- According to Section 5(2) of the Act, any change must be made within three years of his age being registered in the record book or within one year from the date of commencement of the act whichever is later. However, the respondent made the application after the lapse of 24 years of his appointment. The observation of the High Court that the respondent might not be aware of the implementation and adoption of the Act was not accepted. Ignorance of law is not an excuse. Being an employee of the corporation, it is the duty of the respondent to be aware and be updated of the Regulations pertaining to him.
- After analysing various precedents, this court summarized the following guidelines regarding the change of date of birth:
- Application for modification of date of birth should be in line with the object of the provision/regulation laid down by the competent authority.
- Application of change of date of birth cannot be claimed as a right.
- Applications can be rejected if it was made at the end of the tenure or at a very later stage than the prescribed threshold limit set under the Act.
- In Home Department v. Kirubakaran R (1994), the court observed that the application should not be considered in singularity of the public servant but also the chain of events which would occur if the delayed application is considered. It may hinder opportunity of employees below him who will be waiting for a promotion. It may even be the case that if the application is accepted and the date of birth is ratified, this employee may stay for a longer period and people below might be waiting for a longer period of time than expected or stipulated time.
Courts have consistently held that an application for change of date of birth at the end of the employee tenure should not be entertained by the courts even if there is a reasonable ground for the same. This is because, the application should be assessed by taking into consideration its impact on other employees who are below him and waiting for a promotion. If the application in the end is accepted, it is at the cost of large number of employees and needs to be discouraged. The Courts should also examine whether any real injustice is caused to the applicant due to the date of birth. Even though this suit was agreed to be infructuous, due to the fact that the respondent had achieved the superannuation period by complying with the High Court judgement, it was considered by the Court to settle the principle regarding this subject-matter.
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1. What are the conditions prescribed under the Karnataka State Servants (Determination of Age) Act 1974 for application of modification of date of birth?
2. Whether change of date of birth be claimed as a right?