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HC flays sale of blank notarised documents in bunk shops

Court wants a mechanism in place to keep a check on Notary Public

The Madras High Court has come down heavily on advocates who get appointed as notaries either by the Centre or the State government, sit in their vehicles parked outside court complexes with banners titled ‘Notary Public’ and sign every other document for monetary consideration.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani said: “The purpose of notary is not this. The notaries are governed by the Notaries Act of 1952 and certain significant responsibilities have been entrusted upon them with respect to attestation of legal documents.

“However, to the shock and surprise of this court, many blank but signed notary certificates are available easily even in bunk shops in many towns. The notaries are not discharging their functions properly and they are selling signed or blank stamp papers for consideration.

“The said blank papers signed by the notaries are misused by many parties. Therefore, this court suo motu impleads the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and the Government of Tamil Nadu, represented by its Law Secretary as respondents to this case,” the judges said.

They directed the Bar Council as well as the State government to file individual reports within two weeks listing out the number of complaints received in the last 10 years against those practising as notaries and the action that had been taken on the basis of those complaints.

The orders were passed while disposing of a habeas corpus petition filed by a resident of Salem accusing a local youngster of having abducted his 21-year-old college-going daughter. However, the woman appeared before the court and claimed to have eloped with her lover. The court was also told that the couple entered into a written marriage agreement and got it attested by a Notary Public. When the judges questioned the validity of the agreement and summoned the notary, he apologised and pleaded with the court to pardon him.

After making it clear that the woman would be at liberty to live with anyone as she pleases, the judges kept the HCP pending in order to fix some kind of accountability on the part of those who get appointed as notaries by the Centre as well as the State government. “Not only in this case, but in many cases, many notaries are certifying documents which are neither sustainable in law nor legally valid… They are issuing certificates according to their whims and fancies which they are not supposed to.

“Therefore, there should be some responsibility fixed on the Notary Public and there should be some mechanism to verify as to whether the notaries are functioning properly or not,” the Division Bench observed.

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