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Mr. Ranjit Kumar Chatterjee Vs. Union of India (Uoi) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1984)ILLJ402Cal
AppellantMr. Ranjit Kumar Chatterjee
RespondentUnion of India (Uoi) and ors.
Cases ReferredJiwan Kishore v. Delhi Transport Corporation
Excerpt:
- .....far as possible confirmatory documentary evidence such as a matriculation certificate, municipal birth certificate and so on. if the exact date is not known an approximate date shall be given.(2) the actual date or the assumed date determined under rule 80 shall be recorded in the history of service, service book, or any other record that may be kept in respect of the government servant's service under government and once recorded it cannot be altered except in the case of clerical error, without the previous orders of a department of the central government or an administrator.4. it has been submitted by the learned advocate for the petitioner that in the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case the decision of the respondent no. 1 rejecting the petitioner's prayer for correction.....
Judgment:

Amitabha Dutta, J.

1. In this writ petition, the petitioner has challenged the decision of the respondents No. 1 and 2 refusing to alter his date of birth, in service record from 18th July, 1918 to 8th July, 1928 and applied for appropriate relief.

2. The material facts appearing from the affidavits of the parties may be narrated briefly. The petitioner who is not a matriculate was appointed as Mechanic, Grade II in M.T.O. Dufferin Pool of the U.S. Army with effect from 13th September, 1944 during the Second World War. In the service book of the petitioner opened by the American Military Authority the petitioner's date of birth was recorded as 18th July, 1918. After the war was over the petitioner's service was transferred to the office of the Director General of Supplies & Disposals in 1948 and from there to the Indian Bureau of Mines in 1957 wherefrom he was finally absorbed in the office of the Geological Survey of India in 1960. In 1959 the petitioner submitted to the concerned authority of the Indian Bureau of Mines, Nagpur his school leaving certificate in original in connection with verification of his date of birth. The said original certificate was not returned to him and so he wrote a letter dated 8th January, 1960 for its return (vide Annexure 'K'), but he did not get it back. In the gradation list published by the Indian Bureau of Mines the petitioner's date of birth was shown as 8th July, 1928. So the petitioner had no occasion to doubt that his date of birth was not correctly entered in his service records. On 8th July, 1974 at the instance of the then Director of Administration, Geological Survey of India (hereinafter called the G.S.I.) the petitioner inspected the entry in his service book regarding his date of birth and came to know that it was recorded as 18th July, 1918 instead of 8th July, 1928. Thereafter the petitioner submitted a representation on 9th August, 74 to the said authority pointing out the error and praying for its correction. In course of the correspondence that followed the petitioner referred to the gradation list prepared by the Indian Bureau of Mines in which his date of birth had been correctly recorded as 8th July, 1928 for which he did not make any representation for correction of his service record earlier. In December 1975 the respondent No. 2 Director of Administration, G.S.I, requested the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) 24 Parganas to give his opinion on the age of the petitioner after examining him medically. The petitioner appeared before the CMOH,24 Par-i ganas on 29th December, 1975 and was referred to Dr. J.N. Dey Majumdar, Radiologist of Magni Ram Bungur Hospital for radiological examination to ascertain his age. The radiologist gave his opinion that the age of the petitioner was between 45 and 50. The CMOH concurred with that opinion. He also admitted the age appearing from a copy of the school leaving certificate produced by the petitioner in which his date of birth was recorded 8th July, 1928. The medical report is Annexure 'D' to the writ petition. Thereafter the respondent No. 2 directed the petitioner to produce the original school leaving certificate. The petitioner produced an attested copy of the school leaving certificate (Annexure 'F') as the original had not been returned to him by the Indian Bureau of Mines. Thereafter on being directed by the respondent No. 2 to produce a corroborative certificate the petitioner obtained such certificate from the District School Board, Dhanbad on 28th September, 1976. This averment in the writ petition has not been controverted, In response to a query from the office of the respondent No. 2 the District Education Officer, Dhanbad also wrote to the Administrative Officer, G.S.I. (Respondent No. 4) in September 1976 that the petitioner's date of birth recorded in the admission register of the school (G.N.M. Higher Secondary School, Kathrasgarh, Dhanbad) was 8th July, 1928 and enclosed with that letter the copy of the school leaving certificate which had been forwarded for verification. Thereafter the respondeitt No. 2 wrote to die Secretary, Ministry of Steel/Mines (Department of Mines) in which he referred to the clarification obtained from the petitioner, the attested copy of the school leaving certificate and produced the seniority list supplied by the Deputy Director General, Central Region without supporting document and the report of the medical authority on the petitioner's age. The concluding portion of the said letter (Annexure 'E') is as follows:

In view of the fact that his date of birth as furnished in his school leaving certificate tallies with that of medical certificate now obtained it is requested that the Government of India may be pleased to issue necessary orders authorising this department to alter his date of birth from 18th July, 1918 to 8th July, 1928.

But the petitioner was retired from service with effect from 31st July, 1976. The respondent No. 2 informed him by a letter dated 2nd February, 1978 (Annexure T) that the Government of India, disagreed to the proposal for alteration of his date of birth and so the petitioner's release from the department with effect from 31st July, 1976 (afternoon) was in order. The petitioner made several representations to the Government of India. He was again informed by letter dated 20th January, 1979 by the respondent No. 2 of the Government of India's decision not to alter the date of birth in his service record (Annexure 'N'). The petitioner had to make a statement dated 24th January, 1979 in the form for drawing pensionary benefit in accordance with the entries including the entry regarding his date of birth in his service book as otherwise no pension would be granted to him.

3. The relevant statutory rule regarding correction of age of a Central Government employee is Rule 79 of the General Finance Rules which is as follows:

79. Date of Birth (1). Every person newly appointed to a service or a post under Government shall at the time of the appointment declare the date of birth by the christian era with as far as possible confirmatory documentary evidence such as a matriculation certificate, municipal birth certificate and so on. If the exact date is not known an approximate date shall be given.

(2) The actual date or the assumed date determined under Rule 80 shall be recorded in the history of service, service book, or any other record that may be kept in respect of the Government servant's service under Government and once recorded it cannot be altered except in the case of clerical error, without the previous orders of a department of the Central Government or an Administrator.

4. It has been submitted by the learned Advocate for the petitioner that in the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case the decision of the respondent No. 1 rejecting the petitioner's prayer for correction of the entry of his date of birth in his service book is liable to be quashed as it has been made apparently on irrelevant considerations and extraneous grounds ignoring the school leaving certificate of the petitioner the authenticity of which was duly verified at the instance of the respondent No. 2 by the concerned authorities viz. the District Education Officer, Dhanbad and which is in consonance with the opinion of the medical expert to whom the petitioner was referred by the respondent No. 2. The said decision is also void as no reasons have been assigned for it although it is a quasi-Judicial decision having civil consequences. He has submitted that a mistaken statement of age for whatever reasons can always be corrected by furnishing authentic proof of the correct age of the Government servant and in this case mere was such proof before the respondents showing the petitioner's date of birth as 8th July, 1928.

5. On the other hand it has been submitted by the learned Advocate for the respondents that if the petitioner's date of birth be 8th July, 1928 then he was aged 16 years 2 months when he was appointed by the American Military Authority which is absurd, that the verification report of the District Education Officer, Dhanbad shows the readmission of the petitioner endorsed by the Headmaster of the school in the school admission register which is a suspicious feature, that die opinion of die medical expert regarding the age of die petitioner as between 45 and 50 in December, 1975 shows such a wide range of variation as to be uncertain and unacceptable; and that the petitioner himself mentioned his date of birth as 18th July, 1918 in his application for pension in January, 1979 from which he cannot resile.

6. Having heard the learned Advocates for the parties and considered the materials on record, I find that the submissions made on behalf of the petitioner appear to be well founded. As early as in 1959 the petitioner furnished his school leaving certificate in original to the Indian Bureau of Mines where he was then serving and thereafter the said authority published a gradation list showing his date of birth as 8th July, 1928, The original school leaving certificate was not returned to him in spite of his letter dated 8th January, 1960 for return. The attested copy of the school leaving certificate produced by the petitioner before the respondent No. 2 Director of Administration, G.S.I, was verified at the instance of the respondent No. 2 by the competent authority from the school admission register regarding the date of birth of the petitioner and found to be correct. Such date of birth 8th July, 1928 has also been found to be in consonance with the expert medical opinion arrived at after radiological examination of the petitioner at the instance of the respondent No. 2. Thereafter the respondent No. 2 sent proposal to the respondent No. 1 for alteration of the petitioner's date of birth from 18th July, 1918 to 8th July 1928 on the basis of such materials. But the respondent No. 1 turned down such proposal without assigning any reasons although the decision of the administrative authority is a quasi-judicial decision having civil consequences, the right to work being as valuable to a person as right to property. Quasi-judicial order must be supported by reason. This Rule is a basic principle of natural justice see Siemens Engineering & Manufacturing Co. v. Union of India : AIR1976SC1785 . Its validity is to be judged by the reasons mentioned in the order which cannot be supplemented by fresh reasons in the shape of affidavit or otherwise. See Moninder Singh v. Chief Election Commissioner : [1978]2SCR272 . In the present case even the reasons given for the first time in the counter affidavit do not appear to be sound. There is hardly any absurdity in the appointment of the petitioner as a Mechanic by the American Military Authority during the abnormal days of Second World War, although he was slightly above 16 Subsequently the authorities of the Indian Bureau of Mines on receiving die school leaving certificate from the petitioner for verification of his age could draw up departmental proceedings against him for suppressing his real age at the time of entry into service and punish him. But that was not done. So mat fact cannot be relevant for considering the petitioner's representation to correct the record of his age. Similar view has been taken by the learned Judge Amiya Kumar Mookerji. J. in Sisu Ranjan Das v. Commissioner of Police 1979(2) C.L.J. 428 (paragraph 25). The endorsement of read mission made by the Headmaster of the school in the school admission register is not a suspicious feature. If it were so, the District Education Officer, Dhanbad would not have given unqualified support to the authenticity of the school leaving certificate of the petitioner sent to him by the G.S.I. for verification. The medical expert's opinion that the age of the petitioner in December 1975 was between 45 and 50 cannot be assailed as uncertain and of little value merely because the range of variation of probable age is somewhat wide. The opinion depends on the date obtained by ossification test. The opinion of the medical expert for determination of age in a controversy like this is very important. The Supreme Court in a similar case of conflicting records of age of an employee showing variation of 10 years determined the age of the employee on the basis of the opinion of the Medical Board see Jiwan Kishore v. Delhi Transport Corporation 1981-LLJ-I 271. The fact that the petitioner had to mention his wrong date of birth as recorded in his service book in application for pension which was to be made in accordance with the service book would not estop him from challenging the correctness of the same on the basis of authentic document viz. the school leaving certificate. Similar view has been taken by Amiya Kumar Mookerji, J. in Sisu Ranjan Das's case (supra) para 23.

In my view, the impugned decision of the respondent No. 1 in this case as communicated to the petitioner by the respondent No. 2 is arbitrary and hit by Article 14 of the Constitution of India. There is authentic proof in the shape of the school leaving certificate of the petitioner which is found to be unimpeachable, that his date of birth is 8th July, 1928.

7. The Rule is made absolute. The impugned decision is quashed. The respondents are directed by a writ of Mandamus to correct the date of birth of the petitioner in his service records according to the School Leaving Certificte and give him the consequential benefits. No order is made as to costs.


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