A death certificate is an important paper given by the government that tells us
why someone passed away, where it happened, and when it happened. It also has
some other details about the person who died. There are many reasons why you
might need a death certificate, like for legal stuff. This paper can be used to
access pension benefits, get life insurance money, or sort out someone's
belongings after they're gone. The government might also use these papers to
look into things or figure out how to make better rules about health and safety
based on why people are passing away. So, a death certificate is like an
official proof that helps in different important situations.
Death gives rise to several issues. If two persons die at one and the same time,
the presumption is that an elder must have died first. This fact is relevant for
purposes of determining the line of succession of the persons who died.
Death Certificate of a Missing Person:
According to Section 108 of the Indian Evidence Act, if someone is missing and
hasn't been heard from by the usual people who would hear from them for a period
of seven years, they are legally presumed to be dead. To establish that someone
has gone missing, it is necessary to provide evidence that the individuals
requesting this declaration have made proper efforts to locate the person.
might involve filing a complaint with the police regarding the missing person,
publishing advertisements, reaching out to family members or friends, and
similar actions. The Court needs to gather evidence about the person's
background, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance, and any testimony
from witnesses who saw them last before they went missing.
Court requires proof of what has happened after the disappearance, including
efforts made to find the person and any indications that they may still be
alive, such as activity in their bank account. Once the Court is convinced by
this evidence, it will issue a decree officially declaring the person dead. Only
after obtaining this decree can the Registrar provide a death certificate.
A person who is not heard of for seven years may be treated to have died but the
date cannot be determined unless it is proved by specific and definite evidence.
A person who was not heard of for seven years was stated by somebody who has
seen him dead on a particular day may be assumed to have died on that particular
day. A person who was not heard of or missing for about 30 years can be treated
to have died and succession of his property opens by the expiry of 30 years.
The person who is supposed to have heard of the missing person is the wife, if
the missing person is husband and vice versa. In other cases, persons who are
supposed to have heard of the missing person are the parents, the missing person
is a son or the daughter. Husband is not the person who ought to have heard of
his missing wife if she had deserted him or is divorcee or a person who is
living with another person.
Consequences of Death:
Regarding the property, it is presumed that the deceased individual had already
undergone a partition with the joint family when a person who was a member of a
joint family with shared property passes away. If the person who died is a life
estate holder his life estate terminates on the supposed date of his death.
Death abates the suit in which he is a plaintiff if no legal representative is
brought on record. Death of the accused person terminates the prosecution lodged
against him. He is neither acquitted nor discharged. His legal representatives
may later contest charges if they propose to seek the acquittal of the deceased
or avoid any fine imposed on the dead person before his death.
Death of a
Government servant against whom disciplinary proceedings are pending, such
proceedings will not be proceeded further. If the legal representatives desire
to avoid any consequential detriment the deceased may suffer can contest the
case. When death occurs, the legal heirs need a legal heir certificate or a
succession certificate for claiming assets left by the deceased.
If the person
dying is a Government servant, revenue authorities will give what is called the
legal heir certificate to the heirs on the basis of which the retirement
benefits of the deceased can be claimed. In other cases, legal heirs shall have
to obtain from court what is called succession certificate. Succession
certificate is necessary when the legal heir claims to recover debts due to
Court will not entertain a suit to recover debts due to the deceased
against third parties unless the person claiming to legal heir produces the
succession certificate obtained by him from the district court. If the defendant
is dead even by the date of the institution of the suit, the suit is liable to
be rejected. A fresh suit can be filed against all legal representatives if the
cause of action survives against them.
Importance of Death Certificate:
Death certificate is very important because it is a legal document involving
individuals and society. It is the last word on dead that helps settle most
legal and financial disputes and affairs. Death certificate is required for
settling inheritance issues, initiating probate hearings and issuing death
benefit policies. The process is vital in the issuance of the letters of
administration, a legal document that brings to an end all the issues the late
person may have been undertaking, especially when it comes to asset distribution
and the debts to be settled.
Moreover, apart from its specific function, the death certificate is also a
vital tool for public health and state services. Documentation and analysis of
cases of deaths give authorities a chance to learn about population health
problems, common illnesses, and intervention points. Aggregated data obtained
from death certificates influence the development of public health policies,
distribution of resources and research on epidemiology to promote community
Death certificate is also very personal to the individual family. It is
necessary for personal histories and genealogies to follow and understand
ancestral roots. Further, it offers a feeling closure to the deceased giving
confirmation that their loved one passed officially and recorded. As such, the
death certificate is multi-dimensional bringing together the legal, public
health and private sphere dimensions entailed in this event.
Death certificate is necessary for the legal representatives for claiming assets
of the deceased. Death certificate is necessary in the application for grant of
succession certificate. Family pension is not sanctioned unless the death
certificate is produced by the person entitled to family pension.
Responsibility of Registration of Death Certificate:
The responsibility of reporting and registering a death lies with specific
individuals based on the circumstances surrounding it. The head of the family is
tasked with this duty in the case of a death occurring at home, while the
medical in-charge is responsible for reporting deaths in hospitals.
In the event
of a death in a jail, the duty falls upon the jail in-charge, and if a deserted
body is discovered, the village headman or the police station in-charge of the
relevant area takes on this responsibility. According to the prevailing
regulations, it is the obligation of these designated individuals to ensure the
proper registration of deaths.
Requirement of Death Certificate:
In India, it's essential to get a death certificate when someone passes away.
This is a rule under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969. To get the
death certificate, you must inform the local authorities about the death within
21 days. If you do this within the time frame, it's easier, and you won't have
to deal with extra paperwork or pay late fees. There's a specific section in the
act, Section 12, that talks about this process. So, getting the death
certificate on time helps avoid hassles and extra costs.
Process of Application of Death Certificate:
Getting a death certificate in India is a straightforward process. You need to
fill out an application form, which you can usually get from your local
authorities or the Registrar who keeps track of deaths. After filling it out,
submit it back to them. Make sure you have some important documents like proof
of the deceased person's birth, an affidavit stating when they passed away, a
copy of the Aadhar Card, and the needed fee in court fee stamps.
need to show proof of your relationship with the person who passed away and give
your complete address with nationality. If you prefer, you can even apply for a
death certificate online using the National Government Services Portal.
Mistake in Death Certificate:
Death certificates show significant changes, particularly among women and
various age groups, due to factors like premature cause of death findings,
insufficient physician training, variable medical practices, time constraints,
and fatigue. Hospital autopsy results reveal alterations in the cause of death
in 61% of cases, indicating issues with medical students' and residents'
training in death certification principles.
Lack of formal training is evident
in over three-quarters of US residents. Additionally, differences in practices
among medical examiners and coroners contribute to inconsistencies in
classifying causes of death. Overworked physician teams with inadequate training
and knowledge further complicate accurate cause of death classification,
especially for unknown patients.
- In the month of January in the year 2016, the Madras High Court Bench
made a significant ruling. They declared that if a person is missing for a
considerable amount of time, not heard of for more than seven years, it can
be presumed that they have passed away. This ruling falls under Section 108
of the Indian Evidence Act, which dates back to the year 1872.
The judges responsible for this ruling were V. Ramasubramanian and N. Kirubakaran.
They came to this decision
while disagreeing with a previous judgment made by a single judge of the High
Court. The previous judgment stated that a bus conductor employed by the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation should be considered deceased on the day he
went missing in May of 1999, in order to settle any terminal benefits owed to
his legal heirs.
- The Supreme Court has noted that if the family members who are meant to
listen for the missing person do not hear anything, or if the person is not
found for a duration of 7 years, then it is presumed that the person in
question has passed away after the 7-year period. The observation made by
the Supreme Court in the case of Rubabbudin Sheikh v. state of Gujarat
(2007) 4 SCC 404 is cited as
evidence to support this claim.
- The Supreme Court has stated in the case of Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State of
Haryana and others, JT 1994 (3) SC 525 that the primary purpose of granting
compassionate appointment is to assist the family in navigating through
unforeseen difficulties and safeguarding them from financial hardship following
the demise of a loved one. It is important to note that such appointment cannot
be demanded as a privilege or on the grounds of inheritance.
A death certificate is a very important legal paper that acts as official
evidence of someone's death. It is used for many administrative, legal, and
financial things like sorting out estates, getting life insurance money, and
transferring property. Apart from being useful in practical ways, the death
certificate is also an essential record for studying demographics and
statistics. This helps in getting accurate information about the population and
doing research on public health. The paper not only helps families to find
closure but also makes sure that everything is done correctly after someone
dies. It plays a big part in the wider picture of legal and administrative
Written By: Md.Imran Wahab
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 9836576565