Decided on June 29,1970



- (1.) THE petitioner was in the permanent service of the Southern Railway for well over twenty-three years. He joined the erstwhile M. S. M. Railway company as a mechanic and riveter boy in the year 1928. Then he resigned the service and joined the army and was a combatant during the second world war. He served there from 1940 to 1946 and was discharged therefrom at or about that time. Thereafter, he registered himself in the Employment Exchange and produced before it his military discharge certificate, which has been produced before me and perused by me in the presence of learned Counsel for the petitioner. Under the caption "age" it was mentioned that the petitioner was twenty-nine years of age, Through the Employment Exchange, and as a fresh recruit, the petitioner obtained service under the first respondent. It is not disputed that at that time the military discharge certificate which formed part of the records which were forwarded by the petitioner to the Employment Exchange, stated his age as twenty-nine years. When the petitioner joined afresh the services of the first respondent, a descriptive roll of the candidate for employment was prepared. As to who prepared it, and as to the circumstances under which it was prepared, are not clear. Certain entries are said to have been attested. One is not sure, when the attestation was procured. But, in column (10 ). which mentions the date and place of birth, it is given as: "db 1912 as per previous employment; Bangalore". In Column (21) his previous appointment with the Railway Company was referred to as a "boy, wagon repair shop?resigned". This is signed by the petitioner in English. But it is common ground that this descriptive roll was filled up by persons other than the petitioner. The petitioner was serving the railway till be got an intimation from the first respondent that he was to retire on 30th June 1970 as according to him he would attain the age of superannuation by that time, and he was directed to vacate the railway quarters which was in his occupation within a time mentioned therein.
(2.) BEFORE the intimation was served, and which is sought to be impugned in these proceedings, there was occasion for the petitioner to find out that his date of birth was not correctly entered in the descriptive roll and therefore long prior to the service of the intimation memo as above, and on 12th January 1968 he requested the Personnel Officer of the Southern Railway to alter the records and more particularly his date of birth therein in accordance with the military discharge certificate which was the basis for his fresh appointment in the Southern Railway. He was confronted with the reply that when he joined the erstwhile Railway Department, his date of birth was entered as 1912 and therefore no reconsideration or alteration of the date of birth could be undertaken. He thereupon appealed to the General Manager, Southern Railway, wherein he made it clear that when he was recruited in the wagon repair shop of the quondam Railway company, he was recorded as a "boy" and there was no declaration of his age at that time and that what was entered was only approximate age. It was along with the appeal petition to the General Manager, Southern Railway that the petitioner thought that he could secure and produce another public document from the school in which he studied. He therefore got one such certificate from the Headmaster of the Church of South India High School, Nagapattinam and enclosed the same along with his appeal memorandum to the General Manager, In that school certificate, which has also been perused by me in Court in the presence of learned Counsel for the petitioner, the date of birth of the petitioner was stated as 15th July, 1916. On the basis of the military discharge certificate, which gave his age as twenty-nine completed years in the year 1946 supported by another public document like the certificate of age issued by the Church of South India High School, Nagapattinam, the petitioner wanted to pursue his remedies before the appellate authority. At that time the military discharge certificate was the produced for verification before the authorities. All that the authorities did was to query the petitioner as to why the school certificate was not produced earlier and ultimately the request for alteration of the date was rejected. This was followed up by the initiation of proceedings by the first respondent (Personnel Officer) calling upon the petitioner to quit and deliver the railway quarters within the period mentioned therein. On the memo, which is sought to be impugned here, the petitioner approached once again the appellate authority namely the General Manager, Southern Railway but without success. The petitioner has now come up to this Court seeking a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the first respondent, dated 4th February, 1970.
(3.) THE main ground on which the writ is sought to be supported is that the earlier record made by the petitioner at the time of his fresh entry in Railway service as a new entrant is based upon a surmise, as the record of age therein is based, upon certain records of the earlier Railway Company which are not available for verification. It is also stated that the authorities concerned did not consider judicially the effect and purport of the military discharge certificate as well as the certificate of age given by a reputed school, and that the order merely purports to refer to them without considering them, as it ought to. It is also stated that there is nothing in the records of the Railway as on date, or at any time, to the effect that the petitioner ever "declared" his age as if born in 1912 as is sought to be made out. The seniority list circulated to him from time to time as well as the application for advance from provident fund were all made by him in the routine, and not with the conscious exercise of his mind that his year of birth was 1912. It was only when there was an awakening in his mind by the order of the first respondent that he had to retire on superannuation, that the petitioner had necessarily re-scrutinised the matter with reference to public records and apprised his officials, that the descriptive roll does not contain a correct entry of his age, and the two other public records, namely the military discharge certificate and the certificate of age issued by the school are the primary documents evidencing his age and they afford acceptable proof of the same.;

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