Chandigarh, June 21, 2022: While dealing with an intra-court appeal challenging respondents’ decision in changing date of birth of the appellant in his service record, based on information mentioned in his school records, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that the appellant’s case could not be accepted as the entries made with respect to the appellant during regular course of the affairs in the school record at various levels would be relevant in this appeal, as it carries evidentiary value having presumption of correctness under Section 79 of the Evidence Act, 1872.
The Bench of Justices Lisa Gill and Sandeep Moudgil was called upon to decide an intra-court appeal against the order of the Single Judge, by which the Civil Writ Petition filed by the petitioner seeking a writ in the nature of mandamus to record the date of birth of the petitioner as March 01, 1971 in his service book, was dismissed.
In this case, the appellant- petitioner joined the respondent-PSEB/PSPCL in 1989 with the date of birth recorded as March 01, 1971 at the first entry in the first page of his service book.
However, as per the petitioner, the said date of birth was changed to June 03, 1964 in 2015 resulting in filing of a Civil Writ Petition which was dismissed by the Single Judge vide the impugned order. Hence, the present appeal was filed seeking the relief mentioned above.
The appellant-petitioner also sought quashing the order of 2015 whereby change in the date of birth of petitioner was allowed from March 01, 1971 to June 03, 1964. There was a further prayer for issuance of a writ of prohibition restraining the official respondents from processing his retirement case scheduled for June 30, 2022, on the basis of alleged wrong date of birth in the service book.
Primarily, the Counsel for the petitioner submitted that it was on the basis of a complaint submitted by one Ajit Singh being inimical towards the appellant-petitioner, that change in his date of birth was allowed vide impugned letter (as June 03, 1964 instead of March 01, 1971) in the service book.
Action of the official respondents was assailed for being violative of Regulation 2.7, Note I read with Annexure-A of the Main Service Regulations, 1972 (‘Regulations, 1972’). It was also argued on behalf of the appellant-petitioner that the aforesaid illegality/aberration was not being set right despite various representations.
After considering the submissions of the Counsel, the Court noted that prior to change of date of birth, an enquiry was got conducted from the Superintending Engineer,
P&M Division, Gurdaspur. The report of such inquiry was based on the school record of the petitioner and the report so prepared was submitted to the Deputy Chief Engineer (TA&I), Patiala, who examined the same and observed that date of birth of the employee recorded in the records of the Corporation was incorrect as the correct date of birth was June 03, 1964.
Rectification of the date of birth was recommended, the report was accordingly submitted to the Chief Engineer (TA&I), Patiala; legal opinion was sought. Thereafter, the Chief Engineer, Distribution Border Zone, Amritsar forwarded the case for approval to the Director Patiala for correction of the date of birth.
Approval was accorded and the said Chief Engineer forwarded his report to Director Administration in 2015. Further the order for correction and issuance of charge-sheet was passed on June 13, 2015 and the said charge-sheet was issued to the petitioner on September 09, 2016.
On the aspect of the alleged violation of Regulation 2.7 of Main Service Regulations of 1972, the Court opined from a bare reading of the aforesaid provisions that a person should declare his birth with confirmatory evidence at the time of appointment and such declaration of age made at the time of or for the purpose of entry in the Board’s service shall be deemed to be conclusive unless he applies for correction of his age.
However, the Court also added that Annexure-A of Regulations, 1972 empowered the Board reserving its right to make a correction in the recorded age of a Board employee at any time against the interests of the Board employee when it is satisfied that the age recorded in his service book is incorrect or has been incorrectly recorded, with the intent of deriving undue advantage therefrom.
In the instant case, the Court noted that the appellate-petitioner neither challenged the finding in the inquiry report nor did he challenge the rectification in his date of birth carried out in July, 2015. The writ petition was filed with the averments that particulars reflected on the website of the respondent PSPCL showed his date of birth to be March 01, 1971 and therefore, entry in his service book should be in line with the said particulars.
In this respect, the Court was of the opinion that the reflection of the date of birth on the portal of the respondent PSPCL could not in any manner give a cause of action to the appellant-petitioner to approach the Court for rectification of the date of birth in his service book, the rectification of which was carried out way back in 2015.
Further, the Court opined that the appellant–petitioner was not having the matriculation certificate at the time of entry in service on August 28, 1989 and therefore, by no stretch of imagination it can be believed that the date of birth on the basis of matriculation certificate was entered as March 01, 1971.
Thus, it was held,
“… mere reliance on the said matriculation certificate or subsequent documents prepared on the basis of said matriculation certificate can be of no avail to the petitioner at this stage. It has been correctly observed by the learned Single Judge that there is no averment in the petition to rebut the finding in the inquiry and to show that it is vitiated nor any material produced with regard to the date the petitioner joined school or the name of school which he had joined in class I or thereafter.”
Further, the Bench held that the petitioner’s case could not be accepted as the entries made in the regular course of the affairs in the school record at various levels (which were relied upon in the inquiry report) would be relevant in the present appeal as it carries evidentiary value having presumption of correctness under Section 79 of the Evidence Act, 1872.
Also, on the plea of incompetency of respondents in issuing the impugned letter, the Court opined,
“Another plea with regard to the competency of the authorities in passing the letter… is concerned, is also totally misplaced inasmuch as the same has been issued only after getting
approval of the Director/Administration which is the competent authority. The appellant-petitioner kept mum thereafter for almost six long years in effect accepting the said change in date of birth.”
Therefore, while holding that the appellant-petitioner did not approach the Court with clean hands, the appeal was dismissed.