HC Remarks on the Right to Change One’s Name

  • The Allahabad High Court granted a man the freedom to change his name, citing Articles 19(1)(a), 21, and 14.
  • The Delhi High Court allowed two boys to include their father’s changed surname on their Board certificates, citing Article 21’s right to identification as an inherent aspect of the right to life.
Article 19(1)(a)Freedom of speech and expression: Citizens have the right to express their opinions and ideas freely, with reasonable restrictions to safeguard national interests and public order.
Article 21Right to life and personal liberty: Individuals are protected from arbitrary deprivation of life or liberty and have the right to live with dignity. It includes the right to privacy and encompasses various aspects of human rights.
Article 14Right to equality: All individuals are entitled to equal protection under the law, ensuring fairness and prohibiting discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It promotes equality before the law for all citizens.

The Right to Change Your Name

  • Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, recognises the right to alter one’s name as a basic right.
  • Personal preferences, religious conversions, marriage or divorce, or overcoming social or cultural hurdles are all common reasons for using it.
  • Individuals may choose to change their names to represent their gender identity, religious views, or professional or artistic endeavours.

The procedure for changing the name

  • Prepare a petition outlining your intention to change the name and your reasons for doing so.
  • Prepare and notarize an affidavit stating your wish to alter your name.
  • Publicly announce the name change in two local publications.
  • Request a Gazette notification from the Department of Publication.
  • Collect supporting documentation such as identity and address proof.
  • In the proper court, file the petition, affidavit, and supporting documents.
  • Attend the court hearing and give any required reasons.
  • Get a court order authorising the name change.
  • Change the name on official documents.

The HCs’ observations

  • The Allahabad High Court found that the authorities’ denial of name-change applications breaches fundamental rights provided by Articles 19(1)(a), 21, and 14.
  • It emphasised the importance of consistency in all identity-related papers in order to avoid confusion and potential misuse.
  • According to Article 21, the right to identification is an inherent aspect of the right to life.

Limitations on the Right to Change One’s Name

  • While the right to change one’s name is a basic right, it is subject to reasonable limitations.
  • Legal constraints must be fair, just, and reasonable.
  • The proportionality principle and the concept of human dignity are critical in establishing the acceptability of limits (Jeeja Ghosh vs. Union of India, 2016). 
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