In a significant ruling, the Kerala High Court has held that expression of one's name in the manner one wishes is a fundamental right enshrined under Article (19)(1)(a) of the Constitution.
The order came on a petition filed by Kashish Gupta, a 17-year-old girl, seeking direction to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to allow her request for a change in name in the certificate.
"Name is an expression of one's individuality, one's identity and one's uniqueness,” said Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas.
Earlier, the Kerala government had accepted Gupta's petition for the change in name, and issued a gazette notification to that effect in 2017. Following the government notification, Gupta got her name changed in her birth certificate and other government-issued documents.
However, the CBSE allegedly rejected her petition to change her name in her secondary school certificate, following which Gupta moved the high court.
The court observed that in a democracy, free expression of one's name in the manner he or she prefers is a facet of individual right.
“Name is the manner in which an individual expresses himself to the world at large. It is the foundation on which he moves around in a civil society. In a democracy, free expression of one's name in the manner he prefers is a facet of individual right," the court said.