Balraj J applied for the birth certificate of his daughter in April 2013, but he had to wait for more than 90 days before he could get it. He needed the birth certificate urgently, in order to apply for the Bhagyalakshmi Scheme (launched by the government to promote birth of girl child in Below Poverty Line families.)

He says, "My daughter was born in Avhieta Hospital, Hennur Bagalur Main Road. But, we were not guided regarding the process of applying for a Birth Certificate in the hospital. When I approached the concerned department at the BBMP office in Kothanur, I was asked to make a ‘payment’. Even after giving Rs 170 to one of the officers, I did not get the certificate."

Later, Balraj contacted Karnataka’s Sakala helpline mentioned outside the centre and complained to them regarding the same. "The officials at Sakala were really helpful. I managed to get the certificate within 3 months of my daughter’s birth. Though the process took longer than usual, I didn’t face any problem as I was guided at every step. The BBMP official whom I paid a bribe to, requested me to take back the complaint against him as he feared losing his job."

Sakala has made life simpler for many people like Balraj. To learn how to get birth or death certificates and the fees involved go to the last two sections in this chapter.

Registration of births and deaths

Registration of births and deaths is carried out according to the Registration of Birth and Deaths Act, 1969. According to the Act, if a birth or death occurs in a hospital, it is mandatory for hospital authorities to record the details of the birth or death and inform the Registrar of Births and Deaths. In Bengaluru, a Medical Officer, Health (MOH), BBMP, is the Registrar. The function is part of the Department of Statistics under the authority of the Joint Director, Statistics.

According the Registration of Birth and Deaths Act 1969, Registrars have to maintain a register of all births and deaths under their jurisdiction and send this data to the Chief Registrar periodically. This data is used for compiling statistics. Any person can get the particulars of any entry made in the birth/death register, but details regarding the cause of death will not be disclosed. The Registrar also has the power to direct any citizen to furnish information regarding births and deaths occurring in the area of his/her residence.

At the hospital, the person applying for a certificate should fill a form (Form-1 for births, Form-2 for deaths), which the hospital will then send to the BBMP office. The MOH will provide the certificate, which can then be collected at a specified date.

In the case of births, the name of the child can be specified in the initial application itself, making the procedure easier. Alternatively, parents can add the name later at the BBMP office before they collect the actual certificate, or they can collect the certificate and then apply for name inclusion anytime before the child turns 14, and an updated certificate can be obtained. Girls born after 31st March 2006 in a BPL family in Karnataka must be enrolled under the Bhagyalakshmi scheme through the nearest Anganwadi. (Readers can pass on this information to their domestic workers, security guards and other service providers).

Death certificates

If a death occurs at a hospital, a relative should fill Form 2, which the hospital will then send to the BBMP office. The hospital will give the Cause of Death Certificate free-of-cost as soon as the death occurs. The MOH will provide the death certificate, which can then be collected at a specified date.

If death occurs at home, Form 2 can be filled later at the BBMP zonal office. Applicants have to submit documents including the Cause of Death and cremation certificates, after which the registrar conducts an inquiry and the certificate is issued.

A registered medical practitioner issues the Cause of Death certificate. If the death occurs while under a doctor’s treatment, the same doctor is responsible for giving the certificate free of charge. If a natural death occurs in a house, the head of the household or the nearest relative of the head present in the house, or the oldest adult male person present is responsible for informing the BBMP and getting a local doctor to certify the cause of death. When deaths occur in public places like lodges, the owner of the place is responsible for giving this information to the authorities.

In case of unnatural deaths or abandoned bodies, the Police and BBMP together conduct an investigation and post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause of death. In case of unclaimed bodies, the body is preserved in the hospital for seven days, during which period it can be claimed by relatives. After seven days, the police are informed and the hospital is responsible for cremating the body. In cases of non-hospital deaths, the MOH, on receiving an application, conducts an enquiry and gives the death certificate.

The Cause of Death certificate is necessary for cremating the body. The crematorium has to record the details and give a receipt on cremation, which acts as another document showing validity. In cases where the body is buried at a burial ground, the Cause of Death certificate is required along with an identification card of the dead person.

The death certificate is an important document required for many purposes such as property inheritance, bank deposit transfers, widow pensions, insurance cases, etc., while birth certificates are necessary for school admissions, passport application, etc.

Registering births and deaths in time

Registration of births and deaths done within 21 days of the event is free of cost. From 21 to 30 days after the event, the MOH will provide the certificate after collecting a fine of Rs 25. After 30 days and within a year, only the Joint Director of Statistics can provide the certificate; the penalty is Rs 50, and an affidavit needs to be submitted.

If a death is registered only after a year, the applicant can get the certificate by order of a first class magistrate only, which can be a lengthy process. In such cases, the applicant will need the Cause of Death certificate, Cremation certificate and an affidavit.

If the birth/death is not recorded, the applicant should get a Non-Availability Certificate from the BBMP and documents such as address proof are required in the absence of hospital records’, says advocate Mohammed Yunus. The Non-Availability Certificate is an acknowledgement or endorsement from the authorities stating that the certificate is not available with them. Applicants have to fill a form and submit it to the BBMP authorities, who will then verify the data and issue the acknowledgement.

In some government hospitals, the Resident Medical Officer (RMO) has the power of the sub-registrar and is authorised to certify births and death that occur in the hospital. In these cases, the certificate will be available from the hospital itself. The certificate is available within 24 to 48 hours after the event in six government hospitals—Victoria, Bowring, Vani Vilas, KC General Hospital, Ghousia and Command Hospital—and in the seven Corporation Hospitals in the city.

Dr. Rajanna, RMO at Bowring Hospital, says, "Most people are aware of the procedure and do collect certificates now. If there are minor errors in the certificate, changes are made directly. If there is a major error, an affidavit and other documents should be presented and the changes will be made free of cost. The reason for making the change is also considered. In case of legal disputes, changes can be made with the approval of higher authorities."

In case of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), the Registrar-General should record the event at the Indian Consulate. If a child is born outside India and returns to settle in the country, the birth can be registered within 60 days of arrival. After 60 days, the procedure is the same as for delayed registration of births within India.

Select hospitals submit births and deaths data online

An online process is now in place at major hospitals that get birth/death data from other hospitals or individuals. The centres enter the relevant data; this is then registered by BBMP MOHs. This system is not open to the general public, and can be accessed only through the 48 chosen hospitals. Citizens can then get the certificate from any BBMP Citizen Service Centre in the city. Currently, data regarding all births and deaths that occurred after the year 2000 are available in the system. Certificates for these data can be obtained from any BBMP zonal office or Bengaluru One Centre.

Complications arise if there are any errors in the certificate, says ex-corporator and advocate S. Ramesh. "Errors occur due to negligence of hospital authorities or BBMP officials, causing the applicants to make repeated visits to get them corrected." These issues also lead to increased instances of bribing.

RTI activist Vikram Simha says, "According to the Registration of Birth and Deaths Act 1969, changes can be made in the certificate if the Registrar is satisfied with the documents furnished. But this interpretation is subjective; the Registrar can refuse to make changes without citing any specific reasons." He cites a few cases where the applicants had to file RTI applications when the Registrar refused to make minor changes. The modifications were finally made without further documents after favourable rulings from the State Information Commission.

"Many people are not aware that copies of certificates can be obtained from BBMP Citizen Service Centres. They resort to bribing in BBMP offices to get the job done fast. If the applicant has to go to court for some reason, there also he/she are bogged down by obstacles such as being asked to submit unnecessary documents’," Simha says. He observes that many people notice errors in birth certificates only at the time of school admission of the child.

Complaint redressal

Registrars who refuse to register births and deaths, medical practitioners who refuse to give cause of death certificate without reasonable cause, and informants who deliberately give wrong information are punishable with a fine; further, criminal proceedings can be initiated against them. Complaints can be submitted to the BBMP Commissioner or the Joint Director (Statistics) in writing.

On receiving complaints, an inquiry will be done and punitive action—including levying fines, or suspension/transfer—will be taken. However, the commissioner or an authorised officer has the power to dismiss the charges by levying a fine of Rs 50. A proposal to increase the fine to Rs 5000 is currently under consideration.

How to get a Birth Certificate under Sakala

The process of obtaining a Birth certificate has been simplified to a great extent under Sakala and it is said to be hassle free. In case of any queries regarding availing of services under Sakala, citizens can call their helpline number: 080 4455 4455.

An applicant can now obtain a birth certificate just within three days. The first step in order to get a Birth Certificate is to approach the BBMP Health Officer for your area. Alternatively, you can visit one of the BBMP Citizen Service Centres (see Appendix). If the hospital where the birth or death happened is in panchayat limits, i.e. outside BBMP, approach the panchayat office.

Procedure

The procedure involved to get this service is described in the following steps:

  • Application form with details of date of birth, mother’s name, and hospital where child is born, should be submitted. Naming the hospital in the form is sufficient. No hospital-issued document is required, since the hospital would have already registered the birth.
  • On payment of fees, receipt will be issued to the applicant
  • Verification process will be carried out based on the details provided in the application
  • Certificate will be printed and issued to the applicant

Fees

Rates are fixed by Council Resolution under the provisions of Karnataka Municipalities Act 1964. Under Sakala, while the first copy of certificate costs `50, every additional copy costs `10 each.

Time: 3 working days.

Whom to approach for difficulties

If the service is not delivered in time (3 working days) or rejected by officer, the applicant is entitled to approach the Municipal Commissioner (Competent Officer) as an first appeal. A decision by the commissioner has to be taken within a maximum of 15 working days from the date of appeal.

If the decision of the Municipal Commissioner is not received within the stipulated time or is not acceptable or implemented, the applicant can make a second appeal and approach the Deputy Commissioner of the District (Appellate Authority). The decision of the Appellate Authority has to be taken within a maximum of 30 working days from the date of the second appeal.

How to get a Death Certificate under Sakala

The first step in order to get a Death Certificate under Sakala is to approach a Health Inspector. Because of Sakala, an applicant can obtain a Death Certificate within three days (like the birth certificate). In case of any queries regarding availing of services under Sakala, citizens can call their helpline number: 080 4455 4455.

See the list of BBMP zonal offices here

List of Citizen Service Centres

See also:

Birth registration
Death registration

Procedure

The procedure involved to get this service is described in the following steps:

  • Application with details like date of death, name and place, should be submitted along with doctor’s certificate, Form 2, address proof and cremation report. No hospital-issued document is required.
  • Receipt will be issued on payment of fees
  • Spot Inspection and verification will be done

(Spot inspection involves visiting the spot of death and conducting an enquiry. A brief inspection and examination of the body to confirm death and find out how the death occurred/reasons that led to death of the person. Citizen Matters has not been able to verify whether the local authorities always do this. So readers are advised to take this aspect with a pinch of salt.)

  • Certificate will be printed and issued to the applicant

Fees

Rates are fixed by Council Resolution under the provisions of Karnataka Municipalities Act 1964. Under Sakala, while the first copy of certificate costs `50, every additional copy costs `10 each.

Time: 3 working days.

Whom to approach for difficulties

If the service is not delivered in time (3 working days) or rejected by officer, the applicant is entitled to approach the Municipal Commissioner (Competent Officer) as an first appeal. A decision by the Competent Officer has to be taken within a maximum of 15 working days from the date of appeal.

If the decision of the Municipal Commissioner is not received within the stipulated time or is not acceptable or implemented, the applicant can make a second appeal and approach the Deputy Commissioner of the District (Appellate Authority). The decision of the Appellate Authority has to be taken within a maximum of 30 working days from the date of the second appeal.

How to proceed for births and deaths in hospitals outside BBMP limits in greater Bengaluru?

The same system as for BBMP applies here too. If a birth takes place in a hospital under panchayat limits, the panchayat office (local authority) issues the Birth Certificate within 7 days of the birth of child. The applicant needs a letter from the hospital before approaching the local authority. Health Inspector is the designated official in the panchayat office who issues the certificate.

Do Sakala provisions apply?

Yes. However, it is essential for the applicant to mention that he/she is applying for the Birth certificate under Sakala, in order to receive all the benefits under the scheme. Contact the Sakala helpline 080 44554455 to lodge a complaint or for any other assistance.