The Corona Virus pandemic has had a severe impact on all aspects of people’s lives as India remains to be in lockdown. Keeping in mind the genuine crisis at hand, the Government (State and Central) and its various departments, while continuing to monitor the situation on the ground, have issued several circulars and guidelines in order to prevent the spread of the Virus while keeping the offices functional.
One such circular has been recently issued by the Department of Registration and Stamps, Government of Maharashtra.
The Circular mentions that since the nationwide lockdown started on 25th March, 2020, the Sub Registrars’ office, Collector of Stamps office and Special Marriage Officers’ offices have remained shut and only after the virus is contained and due precautions are taken, can the offices resume work. Further, since these offices are one of the busiest offices, it is expected, that after resumption, there will be a huge rise in the number of people attempting to finish their work and a tremendous amount of backlog.
Taking all this into consideration, the Department has issued the following precautions to be taken by the citizens and employees working in such offices, to safeguard themselves from contracting the virus after the lockdown is lifted.
1. GENERAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS:
The following are the general safety precautions that these offices must take:
_ Sterilization of the entire office prior to resuming work and every 7 days thereafter along with the screening of every employee every 15 days.
_ Auto sanitization gate, if workable, or spraying of sterilization agent on every person who enters.
_ Every person has to compulsorily wear masks while in the office and frequently using sanitizers or washing hands with soap and water, provisions for which shall be made at the entrance itself.
_ The concerned persons and their advocates would only be allowed to enter with the required documents and their bags and purses, should otherwise be kept outside.
_ Use of biometrics must be stopped immediately and the OTP system should be used as an alternative.
_ Home guards and/or police should be posted for the compliance of the aforesaid.
2. PRECAUTIONS BY PARTIES:
The following precautions and steps should be taken by all the parties:
_ The registration of only one agreement will happen at one time.
_ Time slots should be reserved by Parties for registration through either eStep-in or use the landline or token system and first in first out (FIFO) system will be followed for registration.
_ Once the time slots are reserved, only the required parties and their advocate should be admitted in office and once the registration is complete, the parties must leave the office immediately. In case there are multiple parties, only 4 parties should be allowed at one time.
_ Once the scanning of the registered agreement is complete, the original will be returned to only that one person who submitted it
_ Other measures such as standing at a distance of atleast 7 feet, making marks/ signs on the ground for people to stand, wearing mask at all times except clicking picture for registration, sanitizing hands before signing of the agreement, bringing your own pen, etc. should be followed.
_ Marriage officer must follow the same procedure and only one couple and three witnesses must be allowed in the office for registration.
3. MEASURES TO REDUCE THE CROWD IN OFFICES:
Due to the aforesaid precautions and steps that should be taken by the parties, the registration of the agreements will take more time than usual and therefore, in order to reduce the additional workload, the following measures are also required to be implemented:
_ Physical registration of leave and license agreements is discontinued till the month of July 2020. Citizens may opt for e-registration as an alternative. e-Registration can also be done through authorized select Common Service Centers (CSC) (Maha e-seva Kendra) or Authorised Service Providers (ASP) in the state.
_ Physical filing of Notice of Intimation is also being discontinued from 20th May 2020 till July 2020 and E-filing option can be availed by the citizens.
_ Following further points will apply till June 2020 to offices having more than 3000 registrations annually:
– Registration of optional documents such as death certificate and partition deed and registration of documents of less importance such as release deed, gift deeds between relations and rectification deeds are being stopped. Only those documents whose period of registration would be expiring will be accepted for registration during this period.
– Physical searches in the office are being stopped. Persons may opt for e-search option as an alternative.
– Physical payment for certified copies, applications for assessment etc. is being stopped. For the aforesaid work, persons can use the service on ‘Aaple Sarkar’.
_ Till July 2020, any Sub Registrar can voluntarily reject the summons for registrations at home.
_ No person should be allowed to linger in the office for general queries and should be requested to contact ‘saarthi’ helpline or directly call the office for their queries.
4. INCREASING CAPACITY:
The following further points are to be considered/observed for increasing the capacity of the offices to handle the increased workload after lifting of the lockdown:
_ Time for registration of documents on the i-sarita system has been extended from morning 9.00 am to evening 7.00 pm. The District Collector/ Registrar can take appropriate decision regarding allowing/ continuation of registration of documents through this extended time as per the actual requirement.
_ The District Collector/Registrar should consider keeping the offices open on the second and fourth Saturdays.
_ Once the decision is finalised regarding extension of time or keeping the office open on the holidays day of holiday, notice should be stuck on notice boards as well as published in the local newspapers.
_ In order to expedite the adjudication of cases, the inspection tours of District Registrar/Collector are pushed beyond July 2020. Only urgent investigations will continue as per the rules.
_ Inspector General and Deputy Inspector General of Registration should carry out their inspections during this period using the online inspection module instead of physically going to the sub-registrar’s office.
_ The District Registrar should hold their monthly meetings with sub-registrars only on holidays and should refrain from calling them to the headquarters for inquiry or otherwise, wherever viable.
5. The above information and the precautions to be taken should be displayed on all notice boards and published in newspapers in order to inform all persons. Sub-Registrars should also regularly inform people associated with the office about the circulars and developments and request them to co-operate with office for smooth functioning.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.