The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court gets tough on age fudge bid

New Delhi, July 30: The Supreme Court has asked courts and administrative tribunals to restrict petitions by employees seeking to change their dates of birth as they near retirement.

In a judgment on July 25, a division bench of Justices Doraiswamy Raju and Arijit Passayat condemned such “tendency” of employees to reduce their age in the name of “correcting” them, that too, just before retirement.

The verdict came in a case in which an employee of the Uttar Pradesh government had been allowed by Allahabad High Court to “correct” her date of birth from July 31, 1929, to July 31, 1939, thereby extending her service by 10 years.

The apex court set aside the high court’s order on an appeal by the state government.

The court said in genuine cases, if there is any discrepancy in the date of birth, the employee concerned should take steps according to rules and “correct” the date within the time limit prescribed in the service book. The bench added that “any amount of evidence produced” after this “reasonable time” will be “of no consequence”.

In many cases, it is part of the strategy of “public servants to approach the court or the tribunal on the eve of their retirement, questioning the correctness of the entries in respect of their date of birth in the service books”, Justice Passayat, writing the judgment, observed.

“By this process, it has come to the notice of this court that in many cases even if ultimately their applications are dismissed, by virtue of interim orders, they continue for months, after the date of superannuation,” the judges pointed out.

“The court or the tribunal, must, therefore, be slow in granting an interim relief or continuation in service, unless prima facie evidence of unimpeachable character is produced,” the judges added. “If the public servant succeeds, he can always be compensated, but if he fails, he would have enjoyed undeserved benefit of extended service and thereby caused injustice to his immediate junior.”

The judges said courts and tribunals should normally not issue any interim directive allowing the employee in question to continue in service. Such a directive should be issued after “full satisfaction” that there has been “real injustice to the person concerned and his claim for correction of date of birth has been made in accordance with the procedure prescribed within the time fixed by rule”, they added.

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