Application for Correction of Date of Birth in the Passport [Case Law]

Passports Act, 1967 - S. 17 - Correction of date of birth - Court deprecated the practice of entertaining applications for correction of date of birth in the passports after several years of its issue - correction shall not be done even based on civil court declarations, after several years of the issue of passport.

It is almost after 40 years, he has approached this Court for directions to correct the entry in his passport as regards the date of birth. Further, as noted, the claim of the petitioner is that he is a person born on 12.10.1968. There is a difference of almost 11 years between the date of birth shown in the passport of the petitioner and the date of birth, which the petitioner claims to be the correct one. It is unbelievable that such a grave mistake as regards date of birth in the passport of a person, who is using the same regularly, will go unnoticed.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM
P.B.SURESH KUMAR, J.
W.P.(C).No. 13215 of 2018
Dated this the 22nd day of May, 2018


PETITIONER(S)
ABDUL SUKKOOR SALAHUDEEN
BY ADVS.SRI.BIJU BALAKRISHNAN SMT.V.S.RAKHEE SRI.P.V.JEEVESH 
RESPONDENT(S)
1. THE UNION OF INDIA, REPRESENTED BY THE SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, PATIALA HOUSE, TILAK MARG, NEW DELHI, PIN-110001.
2. THE REGIONAL PASSPORT OFFICE, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, REPRESENTED BY THE CHIEF PASSPORT OFFICER, PIN-695024.
3. THE PASSPORT OFFICER, REGIONAL PASSPORT OFFICE, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, PIN-695024.
R1-R3 BY ADV. SRI.N.NAGARESH, ASSISTANT SOLICITOR GENERAL
JUDGMENT
During 1979, the petitioner obtained a passport with his date of birth as 12.10.1957. Later, during 1989, the petitioner applied for re-issue of the passport and got another passport with the very same date of birth. Again, during 1999, the petitioner applied for re-issue of the passport and got yet another passport with the very same date of birth. Again, during 2012, the petitioner applied for re-issue of the passport and obtained the passport which he is holding at present with the same date of birth. The case of the petitioner is that he was born on 12.10.1968 and the date of birth entered in his passport is incorrect. It is also the case of the petitioner that he has obtained a declaration to that effect from a court of competent jurisdiction. It is alleged by the petitioner that though he has approached the Passport Issuing Authority with a request for correction of the relevant entry in his passport as regards date of birth based on the declaration obtained by him from the civil court, the same is not being entertained. The petitioner, therefore, seeks appropriate directions in this regard in the writ petition.
2. A statement has been filed on behalf of the respondents by the Assistant Solicitor General of India. It is contended by the respondents in the statement that the petitioner has not approached the Passport Issuing Authority till date for correction of date of birth in his passport. It is also contended by the respondents in the statement that correction of entries in passport is presently dealt with in accordance with Office Memorandums dated 26.11.2015 and 22.09.2016 issued by the Ministry of External Affairs and that in terms of the said Office Memorandums, application for correction of date of birth in the passport is entertained at present, only on the basis of birth certificate, that too, when it is established that the date of birth was originally entered in the passport based on documents other than birth certificate. It is further contended by the respondents in the statement that the date of birth of a person as entered in the passport can be corrected only in genuine cases and the case of the petitioner cannot be considered as a genuine one as the petitioner was making use of the passport with the alleged wrong date of birth for almost 40 years. As regards the declaration of the date of birth obtained by the petitioner from the civil court, it is contended by the respondents in the statement that there is no provision at present, for correction of the entry relating to date of birth in the passport based on declaration made by a civil court.
3. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner as also the learned Assistant Solicitor General of India.
4. It is seen that requests for correction of the date of birth and other entries in the passport were earlier dealt with in accordance with the circular issued by the Ministry of External Affairs dated 18.04.2001 as amended on 29.10.2007 and 15.01.2008. The said circulars, among others, provided for correction of the date of birth in passport based on declarations made by civil courts as well. In Jayakumar v. Regional Passport Officer, [2015 (3) KLT 158], this Court deprecated the practice of entertaining applications for correction of date of birth in the passports after several years of its issue. It was observed by this Court in the said case that correction shall not be done even based on civil court declarations, after several years of the issue of passport. Paragraphs 20 to 24 of the said judgment reads thus : 
“20. The Passport hence, is a political document issued by the sovereign of a country to its citizen, giving him the protection due to a citizen of that country, in his travels and residence abroad. The citizen who travels abroad and resides abroad and gets himself employed abroad, however, traces his roots and his citizenry status to the country of his origin on the basis of his Passport, which is the basic document on which such travel, residence and employment is facilitated. The declarations made in the Passport and the stamp of approval by his/her sovereign State reveals the details of the identity of the citizen to all and sundry outside the country in his travels. The details entered therein are taken by any person/agency, of the outside country, in which he/she travels and resides as the authenticated details of his existence as a citizen of his/her country of origin. These details are acted upon in dealing with him, employing him and allowing him to travel and reside in the foreign countries.
21. The consequences which could occur on a drastic change made to one of such essential identities, herein being the date of birth, is perceivable but not all possibilities easily discernible. For one it could be a termination of employment at the age of superannuation as per the laws of the foreign country. Legion and numerous are the decisions of this Court and the Hon'ble Supreme Court that, to correct the date of birth in service records, the claim should be made within a reasonable time from the initial appointment. No such claim can be entertained far later and not at all, at the fag end. This is so, since the date of birth declared entails certain consequences, upon which the affairs of other employees and the employer itself are arranged. If it be so for employment within the country, could we in todays world of comity of nations deny or decline such inevitable consequences of employment abroad? The employer abroad would have taken a citizen of this country into his employment on the basis of the Passport and on the basis of the age disclosed therein. If the same is changed after a very many number of years, that too to the extent of reducing the age, from 5 to 7 years; then the consequence would be severe for such employer and the sanctity of the Passport issued by this country would be seriously jeopardised.
22. The Passport issued by the sovereign State is the property of the State under Section 17 of the Passports Act, 1967. The details entered therein cannot be lightly interfered with, that too after very many years without any sustainable cause and without any explanation as to why initially such a wrong declaration was made and why now a change is sought; that too based on a document which was available with the applicant when the original declaration was made. It is not proper for this court to sit lightly in this jurisdiction and issue orders without proper satisfaction of an illegality or injustice having been occasioned. The consequence if any suffered by the petitioners are all their own making, which they never sought to rectify in all these years when they declared themselves to be of a particular age, by showing their Passports as the authenticated identity of their citizenship in India.
23. This Court has also been shown a judgment of a learned Single Judge of this Court in Nizar v. Union of India [2014 (4) KLT 609] where the restriction for enabling correction by PIA, only when the difference is two years, was struck down. The said decision is said to be challenged in appeal. In fact, this Court would agree with the principle on which the decision proceeds, since there is no rationale behind the restriction on the power conferred on the PIA to correct the date of birth only if the difference is within two years. The difference in date of birth be two years or twenty years, the power should be one to correct a bona fide mistake and that too within a reasonable time. Even a Civil Court declaration after many number of years would lead to the applicant having possibly perpetrated a fraud on many others who acted upon the authenticated declaration of a Sovereign State as to the age status of its citizen. The authorities would do well to introspect on the observations made herein to make suitable amendment to the Circular.
24. For all the above reasons, this Court does not see any reason why the jurisdiction under Article 226 should be so lightly invoked by this Court. No warrant exists for issuance of a writ on the basis of the rather barren pleadings. There is no scope for leaving any liberty on the petitioners to approach a Civil Court too on the reasoning adopted by this Court and the delay occasioned in seeking the correction. This Court is fortified in saying so by the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, reported in Board of Secondary Education of Assam v. Md.Sarifuz Zaman and others [(2003) 12 SCC 408], wherein the issue of correction of date of birth in the school records as certified by a statutory Board came up for consideration. It was held so in paragraph 12: 
“Delay defeats discretion and loss of limitation destroys the remedy itself. Delay amounting to laches results in benefit of discretionary power being denied on principles of equity. Loss of limitation resulting into depriving of the remedy, is a principle based on public policy and utility and not equity alone. There ought to be a limit of time by which human affairs stand settled and uncertainty is lost”.
The writ petitions fail and they are accordingly dismissed. Parties are left to suffer their respective costs.” 
It appears that the office memorandums referred to by the respondents in the statement are office memorandums issued in the light of the decision of this Court, in Jayakumar (supra). The said Office Memorandums do not contain any clause enabling the parties to prefer applications for correction of entry in the passports as regards date of birth based on declarations made by civil courts. As such, correction of the date of birth in the passport cannot be sought now based on declarations made by civil courts. The said aspect has been made clear by this Court in W.P. (C.) No. 599 of 2016 and connected cases, by clarifying that the entries in the passport as regards date of birth need be corrected based on civil court declarations only if, decrees have been obtained by the parties concerned in suits instituted prior to the office memorandum dated 26.11.2015 and if the civil court has issued a positive direction to the Passport Issuing Authority to correct the date of birth in the passport of the party.
5. Coming to the facts of the present case, the sole claim of the petitioner is based on the declaration made by the civil court in Ext.P6 judgment. Ext.P6 judgment is seen rendered in a suit instituted after 26.11.2015. Further, though the petitioner sought in the said case a positive direction to the Passport Issuing Authority to correct the entry relating to the date of birth in his passport, the Court declined to grant the said relief. The said judgment has become final. The petitioner, in the circumstances, is not entitled to get his date of birth in the passport corrected on the basis of the declaration made by the civil court in Ext.P6 case. Further, as rightly pointed out by the respondents in the statement, the petitioner obtained the first passport with the date of birth 12.10.1957 as early as in the year 1979. The petitioner has got the passport re-issued thrice with the same date of birth. He has no case that he had not used the said passports at all. Instead, the petitioner has been making use of all the aforesaid passports all throughout. It is almost after 40 years, he has approached this Court for directions to correct the entry in his passport as regards the date of birth. Further, as noted, the claim of the petitioner is that he is a person born on 12.10.1968. There is a difference of almost 11 years between the date of birth shown in the passport of the petitioner and the date of birth, which the petitioner claims to be the correct one. It is unbelievable that such a grave mistake as regards date of birth in the passport of a person, who is using the same regularly, will go unnoticed.
In the circumstances, the writ petition is devoid of merits and the same is accordingly dismissed.
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