13 April 2017 Current Affairs:
In an unprecedented move, the Madras High Court on Thursday restrained Magistrates from directing authorities to issue birth and death certificates to applicants, until further orders.A Bench of Justice S. Nagamuthu and P.N. Prakash gave the orders after a glaring incident of a criminal misusing the judicial route to obtain a birth certificate to fraudulently claim that he was a minor at the time of committing the crime, had come to light.In January 2016, appalled by the fact that over 4.13 lakh instances of registration of births /deaths have been ordered by many Magistrates in a “cavalier manner” throughout the State over a period of 21 months, the High Court had appointed R. Mohandoss, a retired District Judge to probe the issue.Earlier, a Bench of Justices R. Sudhakar and P.N. Prakash, which was hearing a corpus petition moved by the father of youth Anbu, who was convicted for dacoity by a sessions court in Tindivanam.The petitioner had claimed that his son was a minor at the time of committing the offence and hence he was entitled to relief under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.He made the plea relying upon the birth certificate of his son.On perusal of the certificate, it was found that the petitioner had secured the document recently based on an order from a Magistrate Court. “We are shocked to know that while Anbu was in jail, his father had obtained the birth certificate through a magistrate court,” the Bench said.The Bench then directed the Registrar (Judicial) to collect statistics from all the judicial magistrates in the State on the number of applications filed and ordered under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act from January 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015.According to the report filed by the Registrar, over 4.13 lakh applications were ordered by various magistrates across the State. Taking the report on record, the Bench said, “Apart from setting up a claim of juvenility in criminal cases, it is not uncommon for litigants to claim alteration of their date of retirement from service based on such birth certificates. Such claims by government servants nag the State and foment litigation on the service side. We smell a rat and it is time for us to crack the whip and set our house in order.”The Bench then appointed the Commissioner, to study the procedure adopted by magistrates in conducting inquiry under the Act and to file a report about the possibilities and nature of misuse of the procedure.