Notary, or also known as a seal of authentication acts as an affirmation as to the provided information being true in the eyes of law. Sec 139, Code of Civil Procedure expressly specifies that any affidavit verified by a Notary is acceptable as evidence. Affidavits confirmed by the Notary are also admissible under Sec 297, CrPC. This portrays the significance of a notary. While not all legal documents necessarily require this seal it holds an immense amount of importance because this notary seal aids in the prevention of forgery and is one of the most common methods for avoiding legal document fraud. A Notary seal, if present on a document, will serve as proof to the courts that the signatures were inserted by a legitimate person and were not faked or invented in any legal procedure.

Notary Public

On the recommendation of the courts, the Central or State government appoints a competent and experienced lawyer as a Notary Advocate.

The essentials required are that the prospective candidate must be a lawyer and must be practicing law for at least 10 years in case of male and 7 years in case of female or a person who has been a member of the Indian Legal Services or has been a member of the Judicial Services or has acquired special knowledge in law and held an office under the central/state government, or held office under the legal department of the Armed Forces, or held office under the department of Judge Advocate General.[1]

Seal of Notary

According to Rule 12 of the Notaries Rules, 1956, a plain round seal with a diameter of 5 cm must be used by every notary. This seal must also carry their name, the names of the places where they have been appointed to execute their powers, registration number, expiration date, and the circumscription “NOTARY,” as well as the name of the government that appointed them.

Functions of a Notary Advocate

Rule 8 of the Notaries Act, 1952 mentions all the duties of a Notary Public. A notary advocate’s job is to administer an oath to a person and to certify documents as authentic after they’ve been verified. Other responsibilities include presenting any promissory note, bill of exchange, or demand for better security; noting or protesting the dishonour caused by non-acceptance or non-payment of any promissory note; noting and drawing up any protest relating to demurrage and other commercial matters; administering oaths to, or taking affidavits from, any person; and preparing, attesting, or authenticating any instrument intending to be used as evidence.

Oath Commissioners

An oath commissioner is a legal official appointed by the Registrar of the High Court under certain provisions. Oath commissioners are those who are in charge of administering and assenting solemn affirmations or oaths, which are necessary for maintaining the sanctity of the legal document. This certification serves as the declaration made under the competent authority stands to be true and thus may be used as required by the law. The mere presence of oath commissioners is sufficient to confer intrinsic value on the papers that must be submitted for any duty that requires authenticity and is connected to the individual in question.

Historical significance

Oaths have been considered as a type of ordeal in India from ancient times, and they are the domain of dharma philosophers. This was the major reason why, prior to the establishment of the Oaths Act, oaths were taken with the help of religious writings such as the Geeta and the holy Quran.

The initial legislation pertaining to oaths came into force way back in 1873. This was later repealed for a better version and unambiguity namely the Indian Oaths Act, 1969. It has nine sections that deal with the authorization and administration of oaths by commissioners, as well as enabling courts and individuals to administer oaths.

In addition, the act specifies in its schedule the form or template on which the attestation of the oath delivered may be performed. Similarly, Section 8 of the Act requires a person presenting testimony, to tell the truth about a topic in order to protect the genuineness of the document which is supposed to be submitted in court.

Requirements to Become an Oath Commissioner

Anyone who has been enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of India under The Advocates Act, 1961 below three years and for more than two years are qualified to serve as an Oath Commissioner. The first and initial step is to become a lawyer by doing a three-year after graduation LLB course or five-year integrated law course from a university enlisted and approved by the Bar Council of India[2].

Once an advocate has practiced law for more than two years, they can submit a request to the registrar of the High Court of the state they have practiced law in for the post of an Oath Commissioner. Such an application can also be approved even if they are a fresh graduate with no experience. This entirely depends on the registrar’s discretion. However, one is supposed to apply for this post within five years of practice.

Oath Commissioners may be appointed in a district or station headquarters along with a Subordinate Judge. They may also be appointed in Tehsil headquarters in the absence of a Subordinate Judges.  They are assigned a specific court complex and for a specific length of time. During the term of commission, they are required to be available at that particular court complex. Only the venues authorised by the bar association of that court should be used by the oath commissioner to certify the affidavits. An Oath Commissioner’s tenure is usually three years long. The extension is in reference to the renewal by the District Judge. This renewal pertains to their certificate every three years with the High Court’s permission.

Functions of an Oath Commissioner

Before confirming the affirmation, the oath commissioner shall verify the deponent’s identification and signature. The oath commissioner is responsible for translating the language and interpreting the substance of the affidavit for the deponent, and they must verify that they have done so independently. If the deponent knows the language, they should attest that they have read and fully comprehended the contents of the affidavit. For attesting the affidavits, each oath commissioner is supposed to keep three rubber stamps, as required by the High Court, with their name, register number, and date on them.

Every oath commissioner must keep and maintain a register in the appropriate form to record the fees they charge, as well as any affidavits they attest and receipt books for inspection purposes. After their term of office, they are supposed to submit the register to the district and Sessions judge or the high court.

[1] Rule 3- The Notaries Rules, 1956.

[2] The Indian Oaths Act, 1969

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