Indian courts and public authorities bound to recognise public documents executed and authenticated abroad in terms of Apostille certification

Kerala High Court: While deciding upon the challenge to the order of the Marriage Officer in not accepting the notice of intended marriage,  Muhamed Mustaque, J has held that Indian courts and public authorities are bound to recognise certification of the notaries in case of foreign public documents, which have been attested in terms of the Apostille Convention. The petitioner had given a notice of marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 having intended to marry a Swiss national. However, it was not accepted by the Marriage Officer on the ground that the certificate produced to prove the civil status of the prospective bride was unacceptable.

The Court observed that the certificate of civil status issued by the Swiss Confederation was attested by a notary in terms of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement  of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents  (Apostille Convention) and further held that India having declared its accession to the above Convention on October 5, 1961 and  Switzerland not having objected to  India’s accession as a Contracting State under Article 12 of the Convention, the Indian courts and the public authorities are bound to recognise such certification of the notaries of the foreign country.

The Court noted that the Apostille Convention, 1961 replaced cumbersome formalities of requirement of diplomatic or consular legalisation for foreign public documents and legalisation process of authentication by issuance of Apostille Certificate. Therefore, foreign public documents do not require legalisation if it bears Apostille certification. Since the notice period under the Act was over, the Court directed the Marriage Officer to process the application on the basis of the certificate and register the marriage in accordance with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act. [Abdul Manaf  P. A. v. State of Kerala , 2015 SCC OnLine Ker 29460]

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