What is a Birth Certificate and Why is it Essential?
A Birth Certificate is the most important identity document that makes it possible for anyone in possession of it to benefit from a gamut of services offered by the Indian Government to its citizens. It becomes necessary to obtain a Birth Certificate because it serves to establish the date and fact of one’s birth for a whole range of purposes, like acquiring the right to vote, admission to schools and to the Government Service, claiming the right to marry at the legally permissible age, settlement of inheritance and property rights, and obtaining Government-issued identity documents like a driving licence or passport.
It is necessary to keep in mind that as a rule all marriages have to be compulsorily registered.
Those who undertake a civil marriage (No formal marriage ceremony) marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, do not need to take any further steps because in their case registration is itself the marriage ceremony. But in the case of all religious/ceremonial marriages, and they are the majority in India, the additional step of getting the marriage registered with the registrar of marriages is compulsory.
However, the non-registration of a marriage does not affect its legality and validity. Couples who do not register their marriages can be fined and any one giving false information to the authorities can be penalised with a short jail term. Even then it is always advisable to register a religious/ceremonial marriage because there is then proof of its legality and validity.
In matrimonial disputes it is not uncommon for one of the spouses to claim that no valid marriage took place. Religious authorities that solemnize marriages rarely maintain proper records. Once a marriage is registered with the authorities there is an assumption in law that a valid marriage too
The Legal Framework
n India, it is mandatory under the law to register every birth/stillbirth with the concerned State/UT Government within 21 days of its occurrence. The Government accordingly has provided for a well-defined system for registration of Birth, with the Registrar General at the centre and the Chief Registrars in the States, running through district registrars to the village and town registrars at the periphery.
What You Need to Do
To apply for a Birth Certificate, you must first register the birth. The birth has to be registered with the concerned local authorities within 21 days of its occurrence, by filling up the form prescribed by the Registrar. Birth Certificate is then issued after verification with the actual records of the concerned hospital.
In case the birth has not been registered within the specified time of its occurrence, the certificate is issued after due police verification ordered by the revenue authorities.