Is it a rule of evidence as per the EVIDENCE ACT of India that when the Matriculation Mark sheet of a person shows a particular date as the date of birth , the court is bound to accept that date as the DATE OF BIRTH OF THAT INDIVIDUAL? Surely NOT. Section 4 of The Evidence Act 1872 says thus
January 21, 2012
“Conclusive proof”—When one fact is declared by this Act to be conclusive proof of another, the Court shall, on proof of the one fact, regard the other as proved, and shall not allow evidence to be given for the purpose of disproving it.
The Evidence Act of 1872 gives 2 instances wherein a FACT would be CONCLUSIVE enough to prove another FACT, they are in Sections 112 & 113 regarding the paternity of a child and the other regarding the status of a territory ceded before a particular date to a Princely state etc., by the British Government through a Notification. Except for these 2 instances the EVIDENCE ACT 1872 does not PRESCRIBE instances of CONCLUSIVE PROOF.
The recent controversy regarding the real age of the Chief of Army Staff has generated quite a lot of heat, where the CoAS has even gone to the extent of stating that it was NOT A QUESTION OF TENURE BUT A QUESTION OF HONOUR!
Let us get to the fundamentals. the only instance that a human being cannot remember is his OWN BIRTH, therefore the record in respect of that event has to be recorded or remembered by another person, failing which it is impossible to say anything with certainty. Therefore, when the CoAS emphasizes that his date of birth is 1951 and not 1950, he is obviously relying on a RECORD.
There are certain issues where, however credible the record might be, had it been scrutinized and if found to have been ERRONEOUS, it is nothing but grace to accept it and move on in life. Take for example the following case where, if the matriculation certificate of a girl shows that she is 16 years of age, whereas her parents had increased her age for accommodating her in that Academic Year of her joining school and if she had not attained 16 years on the date when, unfortunately she was seduced by a man into having carnal relationship, would the ACCUSED’s plea that her DoB in her Matriculation Certificate was showing her age to be above 16 years, be a sufficient reason for the court to acquit the Rapist on the grounds that the date of birth mentioned in the Matriculation Cert showed as above 16 years? NAY, NAY, NAY. If the parents of the girl were to produce a Birth Certificate and able to prove, that the victim was less than 16 years, the courts would have no option but to convict the man of Rape. PERIOD.
In the case of CoAS, he has reached the highest post in the Army and for any reason, if the Government during its due diligence on him stumbled upon something and consequently has in its possession a document to prove that the CoAS was born in1950, the Matriculation Cert would be no CONCLUSIVE PROOF of his birth in 1951, which would prevent the Government from citing that as proof to the court. No doubt, in the normal circumstances. the MATRICULATION CERT would be a good proof, but that could be upturned by a better proof and that would be for the courts to decide.
Any opinion given by a retired Chief Justice of India would and should carry a lot of weight, especially, when four retired CJIs have given similar opinion, but those OPINIONS could never match THE JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS OF A SITTING JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA, for the simple reason, that the Constitution of India sanctifies a sitting Justice’ judicial opinion and clothes it with precedential value.
If the Supreme Court of India were to find the proof adduced by the Government to be better, the General may have to accept his new date of birth for all practical purposes, there is no question of honour in this, after all even when his DoB was furnished to the school authorities, he could not have given the details out of his MEMORY or with AN INTENTION TO ENJOY A YEAR MORE IN SERVICE. The general should be graceful enough to let the Courts decide and accept the verdict as a mere detection of a FACT or SUSTAINING OF A FACT which was called into question, for which he was not responsible except for BELIEVING THAT THAT WAS HIS DoB.
It seems to me that he is taking advantage of the Government adopted principle, in his case, OF GIVING HIM THE BENEFIT OF DOUBT on the reasoning that the General might not be involved in the matter of getting his DoB entered; and NOT interested in DISCOVERING or ARRIVING AT A CERTAINTY OF HIS DoB, but TOO WILLING TO BELIEVE that 1951 WAS HIS YEAR OF BIRTH!!!
GOD BLESS INDIA.