CBSE students can request for name change in their school certificate, the Supreme Court said today, and told the education board to tweak its rules that don't allow name change in the document.
"Right to identity is part of freedom of expression," a three-judge bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said. "CBSE students can seek change of their own or their parents' names," it said.
The by-laws of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) that say students cannot ask for name change in school certificates are "not valid in law", the Supreme Court said. "CBSE by-laws cannot override provisions of the Constitution."
For changing names, students can give documents such as passport and Aadhaar, but the names should be consistent with all other formal records.
The court told the CBSE to amend its by-laws to accept request for name change by students for their benefit.
The verdict came on a batch of petitions challenging the CBSE by-law. An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court from several high courts on the validity of CBSE by-laws.
The Delhi High Court in October last year had also said CBSE should put in a place a system for students to change their names, surnames or other details in certificates.
The CBSE's lawyer had said the board cannot certify a person's identity and it only records in the certificate the information given at the first instance.