From Justice Definitions Project

Who is a Notary?

The Major Law Lexicon defines a notary as “a public officer whose function it is to attest and certify, by his hand and official seal, certain classes of documents, in order to give them credit and authenticity in foreign jurisdictions; to take acknowledgements of deeds and other conveyances, and certify the same; and to perform certain official acts, chiefly in commercial matters, such as the protesting of notes and bills, the noting of foreign drafts, and marine protests in cases of loss or damage”.[1]

The essential function of a notary is to “bestow an interest of authenticity upon the acts performed by him.”[2] Courts take notice of the judicial seal of the notary and presume that the document is a true copy since the notary is a “responsible member of the legal profession and is expected to take due care to satisfy himself about the identity of the party appearing before them”.[3]

Official Definition of Notary

Under the Notaries Act of 1952,[4] the central government may appoint notaries throughout India and state governments may appoint them throughout any part of the state. The notary appointed shall be a legal practitioner or other persons who possess the necessary qualifications.

The role of a notary is recognised in other statutes. For instance, under the Registration Act, 1908[5] mentions that a power of attorney required for the purposes of registration shall be recognised when it has been executed before and authenticated by a Notary. Under the Evidence Act, 1872, (or the Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita that supercedes it) public documents of any other class in a foreign country can be proved with a certificate under the seal of a Notary Public.[6]

Qualifications for Appointment

These are given under Rule 3, Notaries Rules, 1956.[7] According to this, to be appointed as notary, a person must

  1. have been practising as a legal practitioner at least for 10 years (7 years in the case of a woman, or any other person belonging to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes), or
  2. be a member of the Indian Legal Services under the Central Government, or
  3. have been, at least for 10 years,
    1. a member of Judicial Service; or
    2. holder of an office under the Central Government or a State Government requiring special knowledge of law after enrolment as an advocate;
    3. holder of an office in the department of Judge Advocate General or in the legal department of the armed forces

Procedure for Appointment

Rule 4(1) of the Notaries Rules provides for the procedure of appointment. A person may make an application for appointment as a notary through the concerned District Judge or the Presiding Officer of the Court or Tribunal where he/she practices as an Advocate.  

Under section 4 of the Notaries Act, The central government and every state government shall maintain a Register of the notaries appointed by that Government and entitled to practise as notaries. Such a register shall include his full name, date of birth, residential and professional address, the date on which his name is entered in the Register, his qualifications and other particulars which may be prescribed.

Appearance in Judicial Databases

Ministry of Law and Justice

The Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice provides a list of notaries across Indian states along with their addresses and relevant details.

Screenshot of the list of notaries from each state and their relevant details uploaded by the Ministry of Law and Justice on its website.


  1. P Ramanatha Aiyar, The Major Law Lexicon, 4th edition, LexisNexis India 2015
  2. Phagu Ram v. State of Punjab and Ors AIR 1965 P&H 220
  3. Prataprai Trumbaklal Mehta v. Jayant Nemchand Shah And Anr AIR 1992 Bom 149
  5. Section 33 of the Registration Act, 1908
  6. Section 78 of Indian Evidence Act; Section 77 of the Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita
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