The Bombay High Court on Friday observed that “the legal profession cannot be allowed to function from the streets” and directed its registry to send the copy of a report, proposing reforms to the Notaries Act of 1952 to the Department of Legal Affairs of the Central Government.
The bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav observed the functioning of Notaries from private cars and taxis outside the Bombay High Court premises. Several instances of malpractices by these notaries were observed by the bench and the High court also came across some discrepancies in the affidavits.
“It has recently been observed that notaries have started notarising documents from vehicles parked in a public parking lot instead of an office or chamber. It has also been observed that notaries have been operating from taxis around the vicinity of this court, legal profession cannot be allowed to function from the streets. Malpractice of notarising documents without the concerned person’s presence or signature, defeats the very purpose for which a document is required to be notarised. It is distressing to note that in some cases, even advocates support such illegal practices.”
The Bombay High court asked centre to consider some reforms to the Notaries (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which proposes digitisation of the records of a notary and will prove to be an important amendment to the act.
The court also showed some photographs which shows the degradation of the legal profession which caused anguish not only to the judiciary but also lowers the dignity of the profession in the eyes of the general public/common man. The court also recommended providing designated premises for the advocates who could not bear the costs of rent offices to function.
“In any event though we have full sympathy for the advocates who do not have their 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. We are also not able to understand how the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and also the appropriate authority have not taken any action till date in regard to the above mentioned functioning of Advocates and Notaries from parking areas and streets manned by the MCGM.”
Amicus Curiae Nausher Kohli along with advocate Akash Agarwal submitted a report suggesting some amendments to the Draft Notaries Amendment Bill, 2021.
Extensive use of technology while notarising documents, mandatory issuance of a receipt by notaries for fees charges, implementing practices under the Remote Online Notarisation, increase in fees for notary charges and implementation of a model code of conduct for notaries etc were sone of the suggestions made by the advocates.