Himachal Pradesh High Court: Tarlok Singh Chauhan J. directed all the Panchayat Secretaries in the State of Himachal Pradesh to provide death certificate as demanded by any person or authority under the Right to Information Act.
The instant application was filed seeking direction to the Panchayat Secretary, Shingla, Development Block, Rampur, District Shimla, H.P. to provide the death certificate, Legal Heir Certificate and BPL Certificate in respect of Baldev resident of Village Dakolar, Post Office Shingla. As per the provisions contained in Section 8(1) J and Section 11 of Right to Information Act, 2005 as the aforesaid officer refused it.
It was brought to the notice of the Court that the Death Certificate, Birth and Death Register is maintained by the Panchayat Secretary of concerned Gram Panchayat as a local Registrar Birth and Death. Death Certificate is provided by the Panchayat Secretary to the family members of the deceased person only. It was further noted that the copy of Death certificate of late Sh. Baldev was requested to be provided under the RTI Act, 2005 and accordingly as per provision 11 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005 for providing Third Party information wife of deceased was inquired who refused to provide certificate of her deceased husband and accordingly as per Rule 8(1)(j) and 11 of the RTI Act, the applicant/Advocate was intimated accordingly by the concerned Public Information Officer-cum-Panchayat Secretary Shingla.
The Court observed that once a party has died, his death certificate cannot be termed a ‘Third Party Information‘, as that information relates/related only to the deceased. It was further observed that entries in Birth and Death Register are public documents and admissible under Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act and it is not necessary to prove, who made the entries and what was the source of information.
The Court directed that “henceforth whenever a copy of death certificate is demanded by any person or authority under Right to Information Act, or even on simple paper, the same shall be given by all the Panchayat Secretaries in the State of Himachal Pradesh, subject to of course on usual charges.”
[OIC Ltd. v. Hira Devi, FAO (WCA) 417 of 2012, decided on 27-08-2021]
Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For Appellants: Mr. Ashwani K. Sharma and Mr. Mayank Sharma
For Respondents 1 and 2: Mr. Sarthak Mehta
For respondent State: Mr. Ashok Sharma, Mr. Vinod Thakur, Mr. Shiv Pal Manhans, Mr. Hemanshu Misra, Mr. Bhupinder Thakur, Mr. Kewal Sharma, Additional Director (Panchayati Raj) in person.