File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Death Certificate: Importance And Legal Aspects

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.

This 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.

Additionally, the 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 deceased.

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 health.

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.

Also, you'll 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.

Court Judgments:
  • 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 procedures.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly