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Orissa HC Emphasizes Notaries Lack the Authority to Issue Marriage Certificates or Notarize Marriage Declarations

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Published on: 19 September 2023 at 11:23 IST

The Orissa High Court has issued a significant observation, asserting that notaries are not authorized to issue marriage certificates or legally entitled to notarize signed declarations of marriage.

The Court emphasized that parties often hold misconceptions regarding the legal validity of a marriage when they obtain a notary-attested marriage declaration. However, the Court clarified that such documents carry no legal weight.

Consequently, the Court directed the Notary Public of Simulia in Balasore to appear before it and provide reasons for issuing and notarizing a marriage declaration. This ruling reaffirms that notaries are outside the scope of their functions when it comes to issuing marriage certificates or notarizing marriage declarations, as outlined in section 8 of the Notaries Act, 1952.

The Bench, comprising Justice Sangam Kumar Sahoo and Justice Sibo Sankar Mishra, expressed, “Time and again Courts across the country have echoed it in identical voice that Notaries are neither authorized to issue certificates of marriage nor they are legally entitled to notarize any signed declaration of marriage, which is apparently beyond the scope of their functions prescribed under section 8 of the Notaries Act, 1952.”

Furthermore, the Bench remarked, “Despite such authoritative pronouncements, this Court is vexed to observe that the Notaries are not abstaining themselves from issuing marriage certificates which have absolutely no value in the eyes of law and without any valid proof of marriage, they are allowing execution of declaration of marriage between the parties which have far-reaching consequences. Due to such extra-legal and subterfuge arrangements by the Notaries, parties are made to believe that they are legally married when in fact their marriage do not have even the slightest of legal sanctity.”

Advocate P.C. Dash represented the Petitioner, while Additional Government Advocate Saswata Patnaik represented the Respondents. The case stemmed from a Writ Petition seeking directions against Respondents no. 7 and 8 to produce the petitioner’s wife, who was allegedly confined and prevented from joining her legally married husband.

The Court noted that a marriage declaration document had been signed by both parties and sworn before a Notary Public in Balasore on April 19, 2023. According to the document, the petitioner and the opposite party claimed to be married in the presence of friends and family, leading what they believed to be a happy married life. However, the Court emphasized the absence of a legal document or valid proof of the marriage.

The Court referenced precedents such as Rohit Kumar Behera v State of Orissa [(2012), Ramakanta Nayak v Itishree Mohapatra [(2017), and Mukesh v The State of M.P. [M.Cr.C. No. 44184 of 2020]. Despite these authoritative statements, Notaries continued to issue marriage certificates devoid of legal value and permitted the execution of marriage declarations without valid proof.

The Court pointed out the significant consequences of such actions, as they misled parties into believing they were legally married when their union lacked legal sanctity. Consequently, the Court scheduled the matter for further proceedings on September 26.

Case Title: Partha Sarathi Das v State of Orissa & others