In India, registering the births and deaths as per the location where such an event takes place is mandatory. As indicative of its name, the Registration of Birth and Death Act was enacted in 1969. However, the Act has some loopholes, and certain amendments were necessary to make it more comprehensive.
This proposed amendment, suggested in 2021, requires the Chief Registrar of the States to maintain unified State level data, which could be integrated into national level data. The data so collected and maintained can then be used to update the ‘national population register under the Citizenship Rules of 2003. Further, it calls for the appointment of a special Sub-Registrar in case of a disaster, whose powers may be prescribed at the time of his appointment.
Table of Contents
The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969
The Act is divided into 5 chapters and 32 sections, which lay down various provisions related to the registration of births and deaths in India. The first chapter deals with the definitions and interpretation of terms that are used throughout the Act. Chapter II of the Act lays down the provisions for registration establishment, followed by Chapter III, which deals with the procedure for the registration of births and deaths.
Chapter IV of the Act lays down provisions for maintaining records and inspecting registration offices. Lastly, Chapter V deals with the powers, penalties, nature of registrars and sub-registrars and protection for any action that is taken in good faith.
The provisions for Registration Establishment are laid down under Chapter II of the Act, which deals with the manner and nature of appointments to be made by the Central Government and the State Governments. The Central Government, under Section 3, is entrusted with the responsibility to appoint a Registrar General of India by way of notification in the Official Gazette. Furthermore, it is also empowered to appoint as many officers as it may deem fit for discharging under the direction and superintendence of the Registrar General.
The State Government is empowered to divide the State into as many registration divisions as it may seem necessary by way of a notification in the Official Gazette and, thereafter, also prescribe the rules for such different divisions. Under Sections 4, 6, and 7, the State Government is entrusted to make the following appointments in the manner specified below:
- Chief Registrar for the State to be appointed by way of notification in the Official Gazette, who shall be the chief executive authority to carry out the execution of the provisions and rules made under the Act in the State in which he is appointed. Section 4(4) calls for the Chief Registrar to submit a report on the working of the Act in the said State including the statistical report as provided for in Section 19(2).
- District Registrar for each revenue district, along with as many Additional District Registrar as the State Government may deem fit, may be appointed to discharge such functions as the District Registrar authorises them to discharge.
- Finally, registrars may be appointed by the State Government for every local area within its jurisdiction under Section 7 of the Act. Such Registrar may also appoint Sub-Registrars with prior approval from the Chief Registrar for carrying out powers and duties in the specified areas within his jurisdiction.
Registration of births and deaths
Section 8 of the Act places the responsibility on the head of the house, medical officer in charge, jailors and person in charge of a hostel/dharamshala, if a birth or death takes place in their premises, either orally or in writing, to the Registrar appointed by the State Government to the best of their knowledge in a time as may be specified by the State Government in the same regard.
Section 9 of the Act is a special provision that provides for a responsibility on the superintendent of the plantation to inform the Registration, either himself or cause someone else to inform the Registrar, about the registration of births and deaths in such plantation.
Section 10 obligates the midwife or medical attendant to inform about the birth and deaths for which they were present or attended to the Registrar of such area. A similar obligation has been made on the person owning/keeping the place set aside for the disposal of dead bodies.
Section 11–12 provides that the informant shall have to sign the register in which such entries will be made on receipt of information from them about the birth or death by writing down his name, description, and place of abode. The Registrar is to provide such informants with the extract of the prescribed particulars from the register about the birth or death reported free of charge.
Maintenance of records and statistics
Sections 16–19 provide that the record and statistics shall be maintained for births and deaths brought to the notice of such authorities appointed by the State or Central Government. Furthermore, there also exist provisions for the inspection of registration offices in a manner which the District Registrar may specify.
Under Section 19, the Registrars must send periodical returns regarding the births and deaths entered in their registers to the Chief Registrar for compilation purposes, from time to time and in such manner, which may be prescribed.
The Registration of Births and Deaths Act of 1969 is an Act that aims to prepare and maintain consolidated data on the births and deaths occurring in India. This Act also has a special provision for registering such incidents for persons living outside India. The responsibility to inform the Registrar is conferred upon such persons who are the persons responsible or in charge of a place where such incidents may occur, as discussed above.
The amendment proposed in the Act also aims to strengthen this network through which registration is to be done and to prepare a consolidated data for the whole nation, on a union level, and for States at their respective state levels. In essence, this Act is an important piece of Law that enables the Central and State Governments to effectively obtain information about the births and deaths in the country.
FAQs on Registration of Birth and Death Act
What is the aim of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act?
As suggested by the name of this legislation, the aim is to maintain a record of births and deaths of Indian citizens, whether in or outside India and to provide such proper documentation for the said events.
Are Registrars and Sub-registrars public servants as defined under Section 21 of the IPC?
Yes, as per Section 26 of the Act, while acting in pursuance of the provisions under this Act or the rules made, the Registrar and Sub-registrars shall be deemed public servants as per Section 21 of the IPC.
Can the State Government delegate its power to make appointments under the Act?
Yes, the State Government may direct any officer or authority subordinate to the State Government to carry out any powers exercisable by it, other than those under Section 30 of the Act, by way of notification in the Official Gazette with such conditions it may deem fit to impose.
Are there any penalties under this Act?
Yes, the penalties are laid down under Section 23 of the Act. Penalties can be imposed on persons who fail to comply with the provisions under Section 8–9, on the Registrar or Sub-registrar for refusal of granting certificate, and on medical practitioners and persons who contravene the provisions of the Act.
Is there any provision for registration of persons who are born or who died outside India?
Yes, Section 20 is a special provision in this regard. This Section obligates the Registrar General of India to register the births and deaths of Indian citizens outside India if he receives such information.