63-year-old Punniadhas’ mother passed away twenty six years ago in 1995 and his father passed away in 2009. Caught up in other immediate formalities and responsibilities at the time, Punniadhas, who is a resident of Chennai and an only child to his parents, managed to apply for their death certificates only in 2018 — over two decades after his mother’s death and almost a decade after his father’s.
For Punniadhas, this delay in registration ended in a prolonged back and forth between the officials of the Greater Chennai Corporation and the police station of the locality where he resided. Despite this, he hasn’t been able to obtain the death certificates of his parents. The reason for this delay in getting the certificate is that when you apply for a death certificate more than a year after the occurrence of death, the process calls for a statement from the Sub Inspector (SI) to validate the cause of the death.
Punniadhas’s case is just one example. There are many more citizens residing in Chennai city who are not aware of the importance of birth and death registration on time, how to go about it and the process to follow in the event of a delay in registering.
Why register births and deaths?
An individual’s duty goes beyond naming their child during the birth and making arrangements for a funeral at the time of the death of a close relative.
As far as birth certificates are concerned, the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, Government of India says that it is the “first right of the child and it is the first step towards establishing its identity”. Birth certificates can come in handy in several instances, for example, during admission in schools/colleges (as proof of age), at the time of employment, to establish parentage, to establish age for the purpose of enrollment in electoral rolls and so on.
As far as death certificates are concerned, it is compulsory to present this document for the purpose of inheritance of property, for accessing pension benefits, dues from insurance companies etc. It may also be required by government officials for various investigative purposes.
Very importantly, registration of births and deaths play a crucial role in national planning, as the data serves to improve the healthcare system, analyse the size and composition of local populations, identify the causes of deaths to spot trends and so on.
Registration of births and deaths in Chennai
The registration of births, deaths and still-births in Chennai are registered at the place of occurrence of the event, according to the Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act, 1969 and the Tamil Nadu Births and Deaths Registration Rules, 2000.
According to the RBD Act, the details of any birth and death must be provided to the Registrar. Who is a Registrar in this case? A Registrar is an official appointed by the state government for each local area comprising the jurisdiction of a corporation, municipality, panchayat or any other local body, who is responsible for maintaining a record of every birth and death which takes place in his jurisdiction. This data is passed on to the Chief Registrar regularly. The Chief Registrar is also appointed by the state government and is the chief executive authority in the state for carrying out the provisions of the RBD Act.
As per the Act, all births and deaths must be reported to the Registrar within 21 days of their occurrence. Within the limits of Chennai Corporation, birth and death information have to be furnished in the required formats to the respective division’s Sanitary Inspector, who then takes the registration process forward.
Birth/Death in a hospital: In the case of deaths in hospitals, it is the hospital authorities that must file the information with the Registrar. At the hospital, the person (usually a medical officer, or someone who is authorised by the medical officer) applying for the certificates has to fill in the required information in forms 2,3 and 4. (2 for birth certificate, 3 for death certificate and 4 for still-birth). These documents are collectively called “reporting forms”.
At home: If a birth or death takes place at home, the head of the household or a close relative who lives in the house is responsible for informing the Registrar as well as getting a doctor to certify the cause of the death. The forms for such cases are also the same as the ones above, However, in the case of death at home, the form has to be obtained from the concerned zonal health officer after submitting the relevant documents like the deceased person’s Aadhar card, treatment documents if any and doctor’s certificate.
In hotels/rest houses/lodge etc: If the event takes place in a rest house, lodge or any such place, then the person in charge or the owner of these places is responsible for giving the necessary details to the authorities.
In public spaces: And in the case of a birth or death in a public place, a police officer of the concerned area has to do the needful.
These forms have to be submitted in person to the respective Zonal Health Officer.
In a nutshell
- Form 2: Birth certificate
- Form 3: Death certificate
- Form 4: Registration of still-births
Hospitals furnish information through the Civil Registration Platform online. In all other cases, the forms have to be submitted in person to the Zonal Health Officer.
Late registration penalties as specified below to be paid at the Treasury Department and receipts attached with the Reporting Forms.
If information regarding the birth or death is given to the Registrar for registration 21 days after the event but within 30 days, the event can be registered upon payment of Rs 100 for late registration. If registered after 30 days but within one year, a late registration fee of Rs 200 has to be paid along with the approval of the City Health Officer.
If there is a delay of more than one year in registering births and deaths, there is a late payment fee of Rs 500 which has to be made at the concerned zonal office of the corporation, after approval from the Divisional Revenue Officer/Executive Arbitrator (and not anyone from a lower rank). The order of the DRO or the Executive Arbitrator must also be attached to the form. The forms for late registration are the same as those used during the time of normal registration as well.
However, in cases such as Punniadhas’s which we mentioned in the beginning of the article, the registration process took place several years after the death of his parents. An official from the Public Health Department of the Greater Chennai Corporation says that in such cases, the corporation wants the police of that particular area to certify the cause of the death and to ensure that it’s a genuine case.
All late payments can be made either in cash, cheque or DD. Payments have to be made at the treasury building of the GCC. Cheques should be made in the name of the Commissioner of GCC or Divisional Revenue Officer (DRO).
It is also important to note that the Tamil Nadu government has exempted late payment fees for births and deaths registration from January 2020 to December 2021 in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Registration of a child’s name
The responsibility of registering the child’s name in the birth certificate lies usually with the parents, but if they are not able to do it, then it is the duty of the guardian of the child to register the name in the birth register. If the birth of a child is registered without a name, then the parent or guardian can give a written affidavit to the Registrar within 12 months from the date of registration of the birth.
After 12 months and within 15 years, the child’s name can still be registered upon payment of a late fee of Rs 200. As per the public health department, inclusion of the child’s name in the birth certificate is not permitted after 15 years.
Correction or cancellation of entry
According to section 15 of the RBD act, if it has come to the notice of the Registrar that a clerical or formal error has been made in the register, the Registrar shall enquire into the matter and if he is satisfied that any such error has been made, he shall correct the error.
If any other person points out an error in entry in the register of births and deaths, then the Registrar may correct the entry after getting a declaration from the person regarding the nature of the error and also after a representation by two persons having knowledge of the facts of the case.
Application formalities for correction in birth certificates can be completed by visiting the Public Relations department of the Greater Chennai Corporation on any working day, and for death certificates, at the health department.
Issuance of birth and death certificates
The birth and death certificates can be downloaded from any part of the world by the public from the official website of the Chennai corporation. Here’s how you can do that.
- Open the GCC website
- Click on the “Birth and Death” option
- To download birth certificate, click on the “Birth Certificate” option and for death certificate, click on the “Death Certificate” option. You will also find options for child name inclusion on the same page.
- Once you select any of these options, all you have to do is select the date of birth/death, select your gender and type in the number given on the screen.
All birth and death records in the GCC since 1930 have been computerised.
To make the process easier for the people of Tamil Nadu to avoid the tedious and time consuming process at government offices, the state govt in 2019 also launched online service centres, called eSevai centres.
In Chennai, as elsewhere, these centres can help you with several services that involve government departments and parastatals such as Revenue, TANGEDCO, TNEA, Corporation of Chennai and so on. Anyone can have access to this service through their online link https://www.tnesevai.tn.gov.in/ or by visiting an eSevai centre in person.
Read more: All you want to know about eSevai centres
Complaints and Grievances
According to officials from the Public Health Department, citizens who wish to voice out their grievances or file a complaint regarding the registration of births and deaths, can do so by dialing the GCC’s toll free number: 1913. “If they want to directly address any issues with the senior officials, the contact numbers of Zonal Health Officers, City Health Officer and others are available on the corporation website, which they may use,” says one official.