The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a plea to change date of birth by a government employee cannot be claimed as a matter of right and cannot be allowed at the fag end of the career.
A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna said: “Application for change of date of birth can only be as per the relevant provisions/regulations applicable. Even if there is cogent evidence, the same cannot be claimed as a matter of right. Application can be rejected on the ground of delay and laches, also more particularly when it is made at fag end of service and/or when the employee is about to retire on attaining the age of superannuation.”
Noting that the the determination of the age of employees of the state government is governed by the Karnataka State Servant (Determination of Age) Act, 1974, the court allowed an appeal filed by the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd challenging the high court’s order for change of date of birth of an employee.
The bench said the law states that an application for alteration in date of birth can be made within three years of entry of the details in the service book or within one year of the commencement of the Act.
It was argued that the high court ought to have appreciated that the ignorance of law cannot be an excuse. Counsel for the corporation submitted that an employee is supposed to know the rules and regulations applicable to the employees of the corporation.
“Employee made the request for change of date of birth vide notice dated June 23, 2007 i.e. after the lapse of 24 years since he joined the service and nearly after the lapse of 16 years from the date of adoption of enactment (Act, 1974) by the appellant – corporation,” the bench noted.
It said applying the law laid down by the top court in the application of the respondent for change of date of birth was liable to be rejected on the ground of delay and laches. “Therefore, as such respondent employee was not entitled to the decree of declaration and therefore the impugned judgment and order passed by the high court is unsustainable and not tenable at law,” said the top court.