1. This is an appeal against an order of Panchapakesa Aiyar J. on an application made by the respondent under Section 45, Specific Relief Act, for the issue of a mandate to the Director of Public Instruction, Madras, to carry out a correction of the entry in toe S. S. L. C. book of his date of birth, so as to make it read as 26-10-1931 instead of 8-3-1930. The allegations made by the respondent in the affidavit filed by him in support of his application were that he passed his S. S. L. C. examination in March 1948 and subsequently became a graduate of the Madras University, that he recently noticed that his date of birth had been wrongly entered in his S. S. L. C. book as 8-3-1930, that this was due to a pure slip and mistake, that he was filling a certificate copy of his date of birth and that the Tahsildar had made the necessary correction in his records. He stated that in reply to a communication to the Director of Public Instruction to make the correction he received a reply directing him to secure an order to that effect from a competent Civil Court. On behalf of the Director of Public Instruction, the Superintendent in the office filed a counter affidavit in which the allegation that the correct date of birth of the applicant was 20-10-1931 was not admitted and objection was taken to the maintainability of the application. The objection is thus set out;
"3. The applicant had his eligibility declared in March 1948 and it was in connection with that and for that purpose only the Director of Public, Instruction was concerned with the applicant's age. After his eligibility was declared the Director of Public Instruction has nothing to do with the applicant's age. In the circumstances, the respondent has neither the duty nor the right to enquire into or alter the applicant's date of birth. And so, it is submitted that the respondent cannot be called upon under Section 45, Specific Relief Act, to do 311 act, which is neither by law incumbent on the Director of Public Instruction nor with which he is in any way concerned with as such officer. The application is misconceived and is not maintainable. The learned Judge, Panchapakesa Aiyar J., overruled the objection and after taking evidence, held-that the correct date of birth of the respondent was 26-10-1931 and ordered the Director of Public Instruction to alter his date of birth to 26-10-1931. The Director of Public Instruction is the appellant before us, and on his behalf the learned Advocate General has pressed before us the objection that the application of the respondent is not maintainable under Section 45, Specific Relief Act.
2. Before the applicant is entitled to an order under Section 45, Specific Relief Act, he should establish that all the requirements contained in Clauses (a) to (h) of that section are satisfied. One of such requirements is that the doing of the specific act required to be done is;
"under any law for the time being in force, clearly incumbent on such person........ in his.... public character."
We asked learned counsel for the respondent under what law in force was it clearly incumbent on the Director of Public Instruction to carry nut the correction. Learned counsel could only refer to a rule framed by the S. S. L. C, Board, apparently with the approval of the Government. The material parts of subsidiary Rule 5, which is the only relevant rule, are as follows:
"When the secondary school leaving certificate is opened on behalf of the pupil, care should be taken to ascertain the correct date of birth and enter that date in the Secondary School leaving certificate. If the date of birth proposed to be entered in the Secondary School leaving certificate does not differ from the date entered already in the admission register of the school, no evidence need be demanded from the parent or guardian of the Pupil, but a declaration to the effect that the date of birth entered in the school register is the correct date of birth of the pupil and that no alteration of that date will be demanded in future on the plea that the correct date was not given at the time of admission should be invariably taken from the parent or guardian and filed in the school.
In all cases, where the date proposed to be entered in the Secondary School Leaving certificate differs from the one already entered in the school admission register, the parent or guardian should be required to produce either a certified birth extract from the Register of Births and Deaths maintained on public authority or a Baptism certificate (in the case of Christian, pupils only) for the correct date.
A declaration to the effect that the certificate produced relates to the pupil in question and to none else should be taken. In cases where birth extracts cannot he produced for valid reasons a declaration made before the head of the school or any evidence that he or she may regard as satisfactory may be accepted.
The approval of the Inspecting Officer should be taken by heads of institutions only in cases where the date of birth claimed on behalf of the pupil at the time of the opening of the Secondary School leaving certificate differs from the date originally entered in the Admission register maintained in the school.
These statements should he filed in the school for future reference, If this is done; there will be no need for making any alteration therein later. In any event, alterations in the date of birth of pupils will not ordinarily be sanctioned after they reach form V. Subject to these conditions, Inspecting Officers may sanction alterations in the date of birth but must do so only after satisfying themselves by requiring the production of clearest evidence that the date as already entered in the certificate is incorrect and that the one proposed to be inserted is correct.
Applications for alterations in the date of birth will not he entertained after a pupil has completed his school course and appeared for the S. S. L. C. public examination."
(3) The learned Advocate General has brought to our notice two Government orders hearing on this point. One is G. O. No. MS, 954, Edn. dated 23-6-1941. It runs as follows:
"The Government are not in favour of a modification of the general rule that alterations in the entries relating to the date of birth or other particulars in the secondary school leaving certificate of a pupil should not be made after the pupil has completed his school course and left the school. They have, however, no objection to the correction of obviously absurd mistakes in the certificates after the pupil has left the school.
Such corrections should be made only under the orders of the Director of Public Instruction and should be attested by an Officer of the Educational department not lower in rank than a District Educational Officer or inspectress of schools."
4. The other G. O. is G. O. Ms. No. 39 Education dated 12-1-1944. It runs as follows:
"In the Subsidiary rules framed by the Secondary School Leaving Certificate Board, Madras, there has long been a provision that alterations in the entries relating to the date of birth in the Secondary school leaving certificate of a pupil should not be made after the pupil has completed the school course and left the school. Recently the Secondary School Leaving Certificate Board has slightly modified this provision and the rule now is to the effect that alterations in the entries relating to the date of birth should not be made after the pupil has completed his school course and appeared for the secondary school leaving certificate public examination. While the Government do not propose to interfere with the general arrangement, they consider it necessary to provide certain special, cases and therefore authorise the Director of Public Instruction in super session of previous orders to order corrections at any time in the date pt birth as recorded in the Secondary School Leaving certificate in the following circumstances:
1. When an obviously absurd entry has to be set right; and
2. When a civil Court directs correction in any individual case.
The corrections should be made only under the Director's orders and should be attested by an Officer of the Education Department not lower in rank than a District Educational Officer or Inspectress of schools."
5. The applicant in this case, the respondent before us, finished his school course in March 1948, and the present application was made in April 1954. If reliance is placed on subsidiary Rule 5, that very rule expressly provides that applications for alterations in the date of birth wilt not he entertained alter a pupil has completed his school course and appeared for the S. S. L. C. public examination.
If the applicant wants, however, to rely on the subsequent Government Orders; then he should make out that there has been an obviously absurd mistake in the entry which should be corrected. So, the only course upon to the Director of Public Instruction in an application for alteration of the entry relating to the date of birth, if it is made long after the applicant has appeared for the S. S, L. C. public examination, is to decide whether there has been an obviously absurd entry, which needs correction.
He has no power to direct the applicant to obtain from the Civil Court an order directing the correction. In any event, it is quite clear, & both the learned Advocate General and counsel for the respondent agree, that on an application under Section 45, Specific Relief Act, all that the applicant will be entitled to is to a direction to the Director of Public Instruction to deal with the application itself.
In no case can, on such an application, this court go into the merits of the application & itself determine the correct date of birth of the applicant.
6. If follows that the order of the learned Judge ordering the Director of Public Instruction to alter the date to 26-10-1951 is obviously wrong and must be set aside. The question is whether the Director of Public Instruction should be called upon to deal with the application and decide whether there has been an obviously absurd mistake. Though technically this should be the proper course, we do not think it necessary to follow that course in this case.
It is only if there is an "obviously absurd entry" that the Director of Public Instruction can make an alteration. It is not every mistake in the entry that can be called & obviously absurd mistake, though this was the argument, in effect of the learned counsel for the respondent. Though it is difficult to lay down a definite test to find out whether a mistake is or if not obviously absurd, practically there would be no difficulty in the Director of Public, Instruction coming to a conclusion in any individual case whether the mistake is or is not obviously absurd.
We give as an instance of an obviously absure mistake a case where according to the date of birth as entered in the S. S. L. C. register the pup would have been admitted, to the IV form when I was two or three years old. As an instance of mistake which is not obviously absurd, we can give a case where pupil's date of birth is given, as 26-10 1951, when it should have been 26-8-1951.
In the present case, the mistake alleged clearly does not fall within the category of obviously absure mistakes. It was not therefore incumbent on the Director of Public Instruction to make the alteration prayed for by the applicant. In these circumstances, we hold that the application under Section 45, Specific Relief Act, made by the respondent was not maintainable.
7. The Government Order dated 12-1-1944 mentions another contingency which would authorise the Director of Public Instruction to order a correction at any time in the date of birth, i.e., "when a civil Court directs correction in any individual case". What exactly was contemplated by the Government in making this provision is not clear. Whether in an appropriately framed suit a civil Court could decide or not what is the correct date of birth of an individual, it is not necessary to discuss in this case.
But we have no doubt whatever that on an application under Section 45 Specific Relief Act, this Court has no power to direct a correction in any individual case by giving a finding as to the correct date of birth, The Government Order itself cannot empower this Court or any other Court to make an enquiry as to the correct date of birth of any individual and to direct a correction as a result of such enquiry.
The power and jurisdiction of a civil Court to do so must depend on the general law and cannot be founded on the above provision in the Government Order.
8. Our attention was drawn to a judgment of Bell J. in a similar case in -- 'Ramamurthi v. Director of Public Instruction, Madras', AIR 1944 Mad 187 (A). Jn that case, the applicant had appeared for and passed the S. S. L. C. public examination in March 1942. But according to the date of birth on his certificate, he Was under age, and under the Regulations he was not declared eligible to join the University. It was then that he made the application for correction of the date of birth.
The Director of Public Instruction refused to make the alteration on the ground that no alteration could be made after the pupil had completed the S. S. L. C. course and left the school. Actually, when the application, was made, the pupil was still at school, and he had not terminated his connection with the school until later. He thereupon filed an application under Section 45 Specific Relief Act, for an order that the Director shall make the alteration.
The learned Judge found that on the date when the application was made to the Director of Public Instruction he had not left the school. On that finding, the case clearly fell within the subsidiary Rule 5 and the Director was bound to have dealt with the application on the merits. Therefore, the learned Judge very properly directed the Director of Public Instruction to consider and determine the application for alteration in accordance with the spirit of the rules and the subsequent G. O. of 1941.
We are in entire agreement with the actual decision in this case on the facts found there. Bell however made certain observations on the language of the G. O. dated 23-6-1941. He said: "What the words 'obviously absurd' mean I cannot tell. The meaning would differ according to the taste of the individual reading it. To my mind to have on a school certificate a date which docs not correspond with the certificate of the Register of births, is not only absurd but it is one which should not be permitted to remain by any public authority. If the Register of births is maintained under the public authority then it is proper that all Government documents should bear the date as shown in those registers and that information given to them by muddled or ignorant parents should not be finally and irrevocably relied upon.
In my opinion the Government gives the widest discretion to the Director of Public Instruction that
wherever a case of a clerical error or a 'bona fide' mistake or manifest injustice is brought to his notice, despite all the general rules, he may make the alteration."
9. With respect to the learned Judge, we do not agree with him that merely because the date in the school certificate does not correspond with the certificate of the Registrar of Births there is an obviously absurd mistake. It would depend upon each ease. We also do not agree with him that it is incumbent on the Director of Public Instruction to make an alteration wherever a case of a clerical error or a bona fide mistake or manifest injustice is brought to his notice at any time long after the applicant has finished his school course, despite the rules.
10. In the result, the appeal is allowed, and the application made by the respondent is dismissed No costs.