Need for Self Attestation of Documents – Implementation in Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare

It will be a great relief to veterans if the Self attestation policy recommended by Department of Administrative reforms vide their OM dated 10 May 2013 is implemented in the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare.
Of late the Record Offices are insisting Affidavits/Attestation for each and every thing sometimes from a First Class Magistrate and sometimes from a First Class Judicial Magistrate. The procedure for obtaining affidavit from 1st Class Judicial Magistrate is different from a 1st Class Magistrate. A 1st Class Judicial Magistrate cannot be approached without the help of an advocate. Similarly the 1st Class Magistrate of a District Revenue Officer or Revenue Divisional Officer cannot be approached directly for anything. The revenue department’s sub-ordinate officials such as VAO and Tahsildar has to approve before taking any issue to the Revenue Divisional Officer.

Both these procedures are time consuming and expensive. There is no fixed fee prescribed for this purpose by the government. Therefore the veterans are put into great hardship for getting Affidavits. While this is the ground situation, the Record Offices simply send a letter to obtain affidavit from 1st Class Magistrates for each and every thing. For example a small spelling mistake made mostly by some other record office staff in the name of an individual, say Sepoy.Natarajan as per his school certificate is written by record office staff as Natrajan omitting ‘a’ after ‘t’. For this simple alphaphetical mistake made due to the pronunciation in a different way by different people of this country, now the individual has to get an affidavit from a First class Magistrate. Likewise there are so many instances that the veterans are put into great hardship.
For certain documentary evidences, the date of birth given in a school certificate is accepted in many offices Whereas our record offices are insisting original birth certificate in addition to the school certificate. (As per Army Instructions 51/80 AHQ letter No.A/00659/org-8 (I&R) (A) dt.10/10/1991 school certificates can be accepted for all purposes. Since delayed registration of birth is to be done only through legal procedure (Court) it takes minimum 3 to 4 months and a considerable advocate fee. In this situation it is requested that the school certificate may be accepted for date of birth for all purposes.
Similarly, in case of marriage certificate, the record offices are insisting affidavit from magistrate even after producing the original marriage certificate issue by the registrar of marriages of the respective state government.   Of late the need for the veterans to approach their record offices increases day by day due to various reasons.
1. After the introduction of ECHS, the necessity for the publication of Part II order for the child birth of post retirement cases increases.
2. The recent welfare measures announced by the govt. like pension for unmarried daughters, widowed daughters and physically and mentally challenged children of veterans had made the veterans to run for birth certificates, death certificates after a long delay. According to Registration of Births and Death Act 1969, a birth or death if not registered within one year from the date of occurrence, the birth or death certificate can be obtained only through courts which is a lengthy, time consuming and expensive procedure. The newly announced self attestation procedure if implemented in our services, it will be a great relief to the veterans.
3. A 50 years old widowed daughter of an ex-serviceman, suppose if she wants to apply for her father’s defence family pension, then kindly read below what are the certificates she has to produce.
i) The death and legal heir ship certificate of her father.
ii) The death and legal heir ship certificate of her mother.
iii) The death and legal heir ship of her husband.
iv) The marriage certificate issued by registrar of marriages in original.
v) The birth certificate of the widowed daughter of the veteran.
vi) Non re-marriage certificate from the revenue authorities.
vii) Income certificate from revenue authorities.
Thank God, nowadays, the death certificates are issued without much difficulty. In case of issue of legal heir ship certificate, as there is no clear transparent procedure laid down by most of the state government, the revenue authorities mostly the lower level functionaries of the District collector like the Tahsildhar, Revenue Inspector and VAOs take advantage of the situation and harass the public in innumerable ways. As there is no fixed fee for issue of a Legal heir ship certificate and also there is no clear mandate for the Revenue authorities to issue legal heir ship certificates, the veterans are suffering a lot.
As the revenue authorities always busy with the executive powers of Law and Order, communal peace and various other miscellaneous works entrusted by the district collector from time to time, the job of verification and issue of legal heir ship certificate to any individual becomes secondary. If we raise an issue regarding non issue or delay, then the alternative will be to go to court to get a Succession certificate. This is the practical difficulty in obtaining legal heir ship certificate. There is no relief to the public on this issue in the near future as there is no indication of any new legislation in this regard.
Regarding the marriage certificate for a 50 years old widow, the rules does not allow to issue marriage certificate after the death of the husband. Therefore the widow has to approach the court or RDO to get an affidavit . It is not an easy job for a helpless orphaned widow to get all these certificates.
Similarly, if the birth of the widow was not registered and Part II order is not obtained by her deceased father, again she has to approach court. It looks simple that widowed daughter will be given pension of her father. But practically very few only able to get the pension because of the above hurdles. Many poor families of the veterans do not come forward even to apply.
Moreover, recently, the record offices have introduced another clause that all such applications from unmarried daughters and widowed daughters for pension must be investigated by the Zilla Sainik board and genuiness report must be obtained before forwarding the application to PCDA for issue of PPO. The Zilla sainik offices unduly delay such applications for sending the verification report. In the case of applications from unmarried daughters of veterans, the Zilla sainik board officials do not show any sympathy and humanitarian view, they always look at the applicants with a suspicious eye. Therefore there is lot of delay in forwarding the investigation report to the record office.
The functioning of the state administered Zilla sainik Board is far below the expectations of the veterans in almost all states.
There is an urgent need to change the functioning of the Ex-servicemen Welfare departments. They are not sensitive to the need of the veterans. Kendriya sainik board is another big blank.
For the present, if the service head quarters implement the self attestation procedure immediately and instruct suitable guidelines to all record offices and Zilla sainik boards, it will be a great relief to many more veterans.
As an Ex-serviemen and Social Welfare Trust, we find it very difficult to help poor veterans and their families because of the above mentioned difficulties. We therefore request the Veteran Cell to take up the matter with appropriate authorities for an early implementation of the self attestation policy for the veterans matters.
Punjab and Kerala State governments have already implemented. Tamil Nadu government is silent about this. The Central Government should make it mandatory for the states to implement such reforms for the benefit of its citizens.

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