HE Supreme Court Tuesday held that an employee cannot, as a matter of right, claim to get their date of birth changed after an inordinate delay, more particularly when the employee is about to retire on attaining the age of superannuation.
A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna said the application for change of date of birth could only be as per the relevant regulations applicable.
The bench was ruling on a petition filed by the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure against the Karnataka High Court finding in favor of an employee who sought an alteration of his date of birth after 24 years of joining service in the corporation.
Disapproving the high court’s order, the top court said that the Corporation had adopted the provisions of the Karnataka State Servants (Determination of Age) Act, 1974 that required such a request to be made within a year of joining the corporation. However, the respondent-employee made the request for a change of date of birth on June 23, 2007, that is, after a lapse of 24 years since he joined service, and nearly after the lapse of 16 years from the date of adoption of the 1974 Act by the Corporation.
The apex court also disapproved the observations made by the high court that nothing was on record that the resolution by which the corporation adopted the 1974 Act was brought to the notice of the employee, and that the employee could, therefore, not be aware of the applicability of the Act.
This, the apex court held, could not be accepted because as an employee of the corporation, he was supposed to know the applicable rules and regulations.
“Ignorance of the law cannot be an excuse to get out of the applicability of the statutory provisions”, the Supreme Court said.
Besides, the apex court said even if the reasoning of the high court were to be accepted, the respondent employee was not still entitled to any relief or change of his date of birth on the ground of delay and laches as the request for such a change was made after a lapse of 24 years since he joined service.
It summarised the law on the change of date of birth as follows –
(i) application for change of date of birth can only be as per the relevant provisions/regulations applicable;
(ii) even if there is cogent evidence, the same cannot be claimed as a matter of right;
(iii) an application can be rejected on the ground of delay and laches, particularly when it is made at the fag end of service and/or when the employee is about to retire on attaining the age of superannuation.
Though the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the corporation on the question of law, it clarified that its judgment would not affect the respondent-employee who had already retired from services after the alteration of his date of birth.