Notaries owe an explanation for unavailability of documents due to termite attack

Central Information Commission (CIC): While coming down heavily upon a woman notary who failed to provide some notarial records on pretext that they were eaten away by the termite, CIC observed that notaries are under a legal duty to protect and preserve notarial records/registers and if records are truly eaten away the termite, they owe an explanation to the people why they failed to prevent it. “Notary Public is an important public functionary which documents certain activities for the purpose of legal consideration of transactions in the court of law. If notaries claim that their records are not produced to regulatory or contend that they are eaten away by termite, it gives rise to serious suspicion about the genuineness of concerned notary transactions, which the public authority is duty bound to check.” noted CIC. The Commission was hearing an appeal filed by a person who sought to know whether the notaries are required to capture the relevant details of all notarial acts performed by them in the format prescribed by Notarial Register or are some of the notarial Acts exempted from being recorded in the notarial register etc. He also sought certain copies of extracts of notary registers of the woman notary. Earlier, the appellant approached the Department of Legal Affairs in the matter but was denied information by the notary on the ground of unavailability of documents due to termite attack. After hearing the parties, CIC observed, “The contention of termite attack appears to be an ‘after thought’ as that was not mentioned anywhere anytime earlier. If true, it is pathetic to note that such an important department like “Legal Affairs” comes up with an explanation that it could not give information as records were eaten away by termite. It sadly reflects the state of notary/legal records.” CIC further observed that the notaries are under a legal duty to protect and preserve such records/registers and if they failed to prevent it, they should provide a list of records which survived termite attack and were partially damaged. CIC also added that if termite attack is claimed by the notary republic, the genuineness of same has to be verified by the regulatory and if it was found to be wrongful claim the public authority should have taken necessary action against persons responsible for same. While issuing a show cause to the notary concerned, CIC asked Department of Legal Affairs to provide list of Notary registers damaged by termite, list of those survived termite attack, partially damaged registers and to produce remains of registers damaged by termite before the commission. The Commission also directed the Department to furnish report of inquiry and action taken report on loss of registers due to termite, along with the names of notaries and officers responsible for this serious negligence. [Nand Lal v. Department of Legal Affairs, 2016 SCC OnLine CIC 2217, decided on March 11, 2016]

3 comments

  • […] Here is a link to an Indian Blog reporting the strictures of the Indian Central Information Commission upon a Notary who pleaded an inability to produce Notarial records in consequence of their destruction by termites. […]

  • What is the need of wrting “woman” before notary in the first line? How is gender relevant here?

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 × two =