The Supreme Court has cautioned the lower courts against entertaining claims of employees for correcting their dates of birth long after they entered service.
The declaration of age made by an employee at the time of, or for the purpose of, entry into government service is conclusive and binding on him, said a vacation Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad.
The only exception, the Bench said, was that the government servant could make an application within two years (as in the present case), or as per the relevant rules from the date of entry into service.
“This necessarily implies that an application made by a government servant for correction of age after two years of his entry into service cannot be entertained by the competent authority. However, the competent authority can, at any time, correct the age recorded in the service book or in the history service of a gazetted government employee if it is satisfied that the age has been so recorded with a view to giving undue benefit to the employee/officer like continuance in service beyond the age of superannuation.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Singhvi quoted an earlier ruling that the law of limitation had to be applied with all its rigour, and the courts or tribunals could not come to the aid of those who slept over their rights and allowed the period of limitation to expire.
The Bench pointed out that any such direction for correction of the date of birth of a public servant had a chain reaction, inasmuch as others waiting for years for their promotions were affected. “Some are likely to suffer irreparable injury, inasmuch as because of the correction of the date of birth, the officer concerned continues in office, in some cases for years, within which time many officers who are below him in seniority waiting for their promotion may lose their promotions for ever.”
High Court's appeal set aside
In the instant case, on an application from the respondent Megh Raj Garg, who joined the service as a sub-judge in Punjab, the trial court ordered his date of birth to be corrected from March 27, 1936, to March 27, 1938, and this was confirmed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The present appeal by the High Court is directed against this order. The appellant submitted that the respondent had sought correction of the date of birth 10 years after he joined the service, and this was not permissible under the rules. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal and set aside the High Court's order.