Right To Privacy

HC Observations over Right to Change Name


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Change of Name under Article 21

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • Allahabad High Court has allowed a man to change his name citing fundamental rights under Articles 19(1) (a), 21, and 14.
  • Delhi High Court permitted two brothers to reflect their father’s changed surname on their Board certificates, asserting the right to identity as an intrinsic part of the right to life under Article 21.
Article Summary
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 21 Right 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 14 Right 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.

Right to Change Name

  • The right to change one’s name is recognized as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty.
  • It is often exercised for various reasons, including personal preferences, religious conversions, marriage or divorce, or to overcome social or cultural barriers.
  • Individuals may choose to change their names to reflect their gender identity, religious beliefs, or to align with their professional or artistic pursuits.

Process to change the name

  1. Prepare a petition stating the desire to change the name and reasons for the change.
  2. Prepare an affidavit affirming the intention to change the name and get it notarized.
  3. Publish a notice in two local newspapers announcing the name change.
  4. Apply for Gazette notification through the Department of Publication.
  5. Gather supporting documents like identity and address proof.
  6. File the petition, affidavit, and supporting documents in the appropriate court.
  7. Attend the court hearing and provide necessary explanations.
  8. Obtain a court order approving the name change.
  9. Update official documents with the new name.

Observations by the HCs

  • Allahabad High Court ruled that the rejection of the name-change applications by the authorities violates fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(a), 21, and 14.
  • It emphasized the need for congruence in all identity-related documents and the prevention of confusion and potential misuse.
  • Delhi High Court asserted the right to identity as an intrinsic part of the right to life under Article 21.

Restrictions on the Right to Change Names

  • Although the right to change names is a fundamental right, it is subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • Restrictions imposed by law must be fair, just, and reasonable.
  • Principle of proportionality and the value of human dignity play important roles in determining the reasonableness of restrictions (Jeeja Ghosh vs. Union of India, 2016).


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