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India: Mumbai court frowns on notaries operating from cars

Officials said the practice lowers 'the dignity of the profession'



File photo for illustrative purposes
File photo for illustrative purposes
by

A Staff Reporter

Published: Sat 19 Feb 2022, 8:03 AM

The Bombay High Court has frowned on the rampant practice of notaries operating from public places in Mumbai and even from cars in parking lots, instead of from offices.

“Though we have full sympathy for the advocates, who do not have offices of their own to function from, we do believe that the dignity of the profession needs to be maintained and the legal profession cannot be allowed to function from the streets,” the court pointed out. It directed its registry to send a report by lawyers suggesting reforms to the Notaries Act to the Indian government.

The practice of notaries operating from taxis and cars in areas around the Bombay High Court revealed “the extent the legal profession has degraded causing anguish not only to the judiciary but also lowering the dignity of the profession in the eyes of general public/common man,” it said.

A report has suggested a draft notaries amendment bill, calling for deploying technology while notarising documents, mandatory receipt for fees, implementing practices under the Remote Online Notarisation, hiking fees the notary charges and the implementation of a model code of conduct.

Notaries must also be given additional responsibility for safekeeping and protection of sensitive and confidential data of their clients.

Last week, after it found defects in documents filed before it by lawyers, the court had summoned a person who was operating out of cars nearby for notarising documents. The court had been told that person operated from one vehicle, while his clerks posing as notaries operated in other vehicles near the court.

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The court also revealed that many advocates (who are also notaries) surrendered their offices during the pandemic and were operating from their vehicles outside the court.

“We are also not able to understand how the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and also the appropriate authority has not taken any action till date in regard to the above-mentioned functioning of advocates and notaries from parking areas and streets manned by it,” said the court. It also directed the government to consider the court’s order and the report submitted by advocates while carrying out the reforms.


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