New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held a horoscope to be a very weak piece of material to prove age of a person and the "heavy onus lies" on the person to prove the authenticity of the horoscope he is relying upon to prove a new date of birth.
"There must be strong, cogent and reliable evidence in support of the contention that the date of birth entered in the service records or in the SSLC (secondary school leaving certificate) was wrongly entered by a mistake," said the apex court bench of Justice Mukundakam Sharma and Justice Anil R. Dave in a recent judgment.
Speaking for the bench, Justice Sharma said there could not be any bar to examine the authenticity and evidentiary value of the document for change of date of birth, which was being relied upon by a person to get an advantage which he may not be otherwise entitled to.
The apex court`s ruling came while upholding an appeal by the Registrar General, Madras High Court challenging the high court order upholding the claim of District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate, M. Manickam that his actual date of birth is Nov 24, 1950, whereas it is wrongly entered in his service book as March 19, 1947. Manickam primarily relied on his family horoscope book to support his claim.
Manickam had contended that that due to the wrong entry of his date of birth in the service records, he would retire from the service 3 years, 8 months and 5 days before his actual date of superannuation.
He had joined the State Subordinate Judicial Service as district judicial magistrate on Nov 4, 1988, after qualifying in the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission.
"We are of a firm opinion that respondent No.1 (Manickam) has failed to discharge his onus in proving the authenticity of the aforesaid horoscope on which reliance is placed," the judgment said.
Setting aside the Madras High Court verdict, the judgment said the apex court has time and again cautioned civil courts and high courts against entertaining and accepting the claim made by the employees for correction of the recorded date of birth, long after entering into service.
Refuting Manickam`s claim that the horoscopes being produced in support of his later date of birth was contained in the note book that had the horoscopes of the family being maintained since 1939, the judgment observed that the said note book was distributed and published from Trichy-2. The court said that Trichy-2 pointed to postal zones which were not in existence before Independence.
The judgment also rejected the modified date of birth on the school leaving certificate saying it was not authenticated by the person who made the changes by hand.
That medical certificate to prove revised date of birth appears to have been got prepared for the purpose of adducing evidence at the time of hearing of the suit and not before, the judgment said.
"The document is also found to be unrealistic and unreliable. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, it is very difficult to place any reliance on the authenticity and validity of the said age proof certificate," the judgment said.