Pawan Kumar had all qualifications for a job with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), except for one — his signature was in capital letters.
Kumar realised how much this habit cost him only after he was refused employment with the CRPF as the signature on his application form was in capital letters. This meant that his form was treated as “not valid” and his requests to the force went unheard.
The rejection made Kumar wonder that if thumb impression was considered valid authorisation, how is a signature in capital letters invalid? To find the answer, Kumar took the question to the Delhi High Court.
In court, he asked if impressions of thumbs could be differentiated by different modes of scrutiny, signatures by different people in capital letters could also be distinguished.
His petition said the signature has to be based absolutely on his wish to be represented in a certain manner and why curtail this right by putting unreasonable restrictions. “It is strange that a person is even dictated for choosing the manner he wants to represent himself. Where is my liberty?” his lawyer submitted before the court.
The counsel for the government adduced the contentions signing in capital leads to confusion and is susceptible to be forged.
“There are forms that ask a candidate to fill up in capital letters. Now, if he also signs in capital letters, it is bound to create confusion since the machines that check the forms are not fed with such instructions,” the lawyer said.
The bench led by Justice Pradeep Nandarajog did not favour the arguments against signing in capital. The court asked if there was a law that imposed such a prohibition.
“We cannot say if there is such a law, but the practice has been such,” the counsel answered.
The court then said: “If there is no such restraining provision, how can we prohibit a person from representing him or her in a particular manner? And why should we? The issue pertaining to people signing in capital letters has been decided by this court in various opinions. The ultimate decision is that the law does not prohibit a person from signing in capital letters.”
The bench said a signature was a unique impression of letters or a visual image by a person to represent himself on document, and could even be a pictorial impression.
“A signature is a trait developed by a person by writing over a period of time. These traits can develop even with reference to capital letters; is the ethos of the decisions,” the court said, allowing Kumar’s writ petition.
It directed the CRPF to treat Kumar’s application in order and process his entitlement to be appointed in the force in accordance with his merit position in the selection list and his preference.