Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Jun 22, 2003
Notes on the notary
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a notary known also as notary public means a person with the authority to draw up deeds and perform legal formalities.
The Central Government appoints notaries for the whole or any part of the country. And State Governments, too, appoint notaries for the whole or any part of the States.
Who can be a notary?
On an application being made, any person who had been practising as an advocate for at least 10 years is eligible to be appointed a notary. A period of seven years of practice is required if the applicant belongs to Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe or other backward classes. For woman applicants, too, the minimum years of practice as lawyer is seven.
The applicant, if not a legal practitioner, should be a member of the Indian Legal Service or have held an office under the Central or State Government, requiring special knowledge of law, after enrolment as an advocate or held an office in the department of Judge, Advocate-General or in the armed forces.
Persons seeking appointment as notary should submit an application in the form of a memorial, as prescribed in the rules, to the competent authority of the appropriate government.
The competent authority, after holding such inquiry as it thinks fit and after giving the applicant an opportunity to make representation against objections (if received), will make a report to the Central or State Government. The application may either be allowed for the whole or any part of the area to which the application relates, or it may be rejected.
Basis for appointment
The competent authority, while making the recommendation for appointment as notary, has to consider the following aspects:
If the application is allowed, the applicant becomes a notary and a certificate of practice will be issued to him and gazetted in the State or Central Gazette. His name will be entered in the Register of Notaries maintained by the Government
Certificate a must: The certificate will specify the period of practice. Previously it was three years and it is renewable on payment of requisite fee for renewal. Now the certificate is issued for five years. The fee for issue of first certificate of practice (first appointment as notary) is Rs 1,000 as per the amended rules and for renewal it is Rs 500.
A notary public in possession of certificate of practice in a particular area may apply for extension of his area of practice. An application should be made to the State/Central Government as the case may be. The Government, after considering the reasons set out in the application and other relevant factors, may pass an order extending the area of practice. The fees for extension of area of practice is Rs 750.
Every notary shall use a seal which should contain the name of the notary, the area of practice, registration number, name of the State, and, if the practice is all-India, the words `Government of India'.
No longer a notary
The Government can remove a notary's name from the Register under the following circumstances:
Check out your notary
No person shall practice as notary or do any notarial act under the official seal unless he holds a certificate of practice, issued to him in terms of the Act.
If a person falsely claims to be a notary without being appointed so or does a notarial act, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term up to three months or both.
The fees payable to notary are prescribed in the rules.
The notary is burdened with certain obligations as well. He should maintain a notorial register in the prescribed form He should disclose the date of appointment and date of certificate on the title page of the register.
He should permit the district judge or such officers to inspect his register.
He should submit to the Government in the first week of January of every year, an annual return of the notorial acts done during the preceding year as per the rules prescribed. He should have an office within the area mentioned in the certificate and a board having his name and his designation as notary.
Tapping the powers
A frequently asked question, especially by the layperson, is: What is an affidavit? It is a sworn statement made in writing and the person signing an affidavit takes oath or affirmation before an authorised magistrate or notified officers or any other persons mentioned in the CPC in court matters. Even an advocate who is not a notary can attest an advocate. For all non-judicial matters, the affidavit should be drawn up on non-judicial stamp paper in Tamil Nadu it costs Rs 20. Notaries attest such affidavits.
(The author is a Chennai-based advocate and notary public.)
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