An individual qualified to be a lawyer appointed by the Union or State Government on reference made by the Court is a notary or notary public. The main task of a notary is to authenticate an official certificate including affirmations or agreement by attaching his signature, seal and stamp in return for some agreed fee.
In order to become a notary a person should have ten years of standing as a lawyer but exemption granted for backward classes and women for seven years. Otherwise, he should be an official under Central or State administration with special knowledge in the legal field or must be an official in Judge’s administrative center or office of the Advocate General or in the armed forces.
In 1952, Central Government enacted The Notaries Act, 1952 with an intention to standardize the vocation of notaries in India. According to the requirements of the Act, a person appointed under the present legislation is a ‘notary’ and includes a notary predetermined under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. The Act empowers the Central and the State Government to appoint a person qualified to be a lawyer as notary.
A register should be retained by the Central and State Government in a prescribed format to incorporate the details of the appointed notaries, who are permitted to practice, by appropriate Government. On payment of the stipulated fee, the name of the notary will be entered into the record managed by the appropriate Government. The Government will issue a certificate to the notary with a permission to act as a notary for a period of five years. The notary, on the expiry of the term of five years may renew his certificate from the Government.
In the month of January each year, the Central and the State Government publishes the name of notaries who are in practice at the opening of that year with such information as prescribed, in the Official Gazette. A notary shall possess seal, with a prescribed form and design for his official use. The main function of a notary is to validate, certify, confirm or attest the implementation of a legal document; protest the dishonor of checks; manage oath or affirmation from a person; translation and verification of any document etc. On direction from the court, notary shall record evidence in a trial; perform as arbitrator or moderator on request.
Where the notary does not possess the certificate of practice, he shall not practice and do any dishonorable acts under his sign and seal. But the act exempts the clerks of notary who performs on behalf of the notary for presenting a check or bill of exchange. The appropriate Government shall remove the name of the notary from the register on the request of the notary himself, non payment of prescribed fee, proved to be an insolvent, responsible of professional misbehavior, non renewal of certificate etc.
The Act penalizes a notary for the offense of false representation or performs any notorious act infringing the provisions of the Act. The Act bars the jurisdiction of the court to take cognizance of the offense unless a complaint is given by the appropriate government. The Judicial Magistrate of First Class shall take on an offense liable to be punished under the Act. The Act empowers the Central Government to formulate rules with regard to certain provisions enumerated under the present legislation.
The vocation of notaries needs special regulations to prescribe uniform standards all over India. This is due to the fact that there is an increasing requirement of notaries as their services are required by persons for their fundamental needs like ration card, gas connection, and voter’s ID etc. For this reason, The Notaries Act is an essential legislation to standardize the profession and invite new lawyers to register as notary.