The Punjab government launched an “affidavit-free regime” wherein the affidavits will be replaced with a self-attested declaration for all need-based services, purposes of admission to educational institutions, and for all areas where a legal document is essential. This marks the beginning of the implementation of the first phase of the recommendations of the Punjab Governance Reforms Commission. The government has asked all Deputy Commissioners and Sub-Divisional Magistrates to properly ensure compliance of a ban on seeking affidavits.
The notification states that at present, affidavits of the applicants / guardians are required for various need-based certificates relating to residence/domicile/kandi/SCs /BCs, etc. In some cases, affidavits are prescribed under the statutory Rules and Acts. In some cases, public notaries are allowed to attest the same whereas in the case of others, only executive magistrates are empowered. The government has decided to do away with all affidavits, except where required under the law. This will provide a relief to the common masses, who had been spending a lot of money and energy ingetting affidavits.
As a substitute, the government has introduced a self-attesting form that will contain a self-declaration by the submitting person after affixing his / her photograph. This form will be available at all Suvidha Kendras.
In cases where the statutory rules provide for affidavits (e.g. by law for the approval of new construction / water supply connection in municipal areas), the bylaws may be amended.
Other than the 10 or 11 services for which an affidavit is mandatory under the state and central law, such as getting a passport or an arms licence, Punjab has done away with all the affidavits that were “local inventions”.
The Chief Secretary on March 10, 2010, issued an order to dispense with the practice of seeking affidavits for 89 services to start with. Authorities in all 20 districts in Punjab are supposed to prominently display boards and information about the services for which affidavits are no longer required.
The government is taking a step towards bridging the trust deficit between the government and the citizens by getting rid of the affidavits not required by law. If a person gives a false self-declaration, he is liable to face action under Section 200 of the IPC, the same as for giving a wrong affidavit.
Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendera Modi, has also encouraged the government of taking self-declaration in lieu of affidavits, which goes on a long way to building trust between citizens and the government.
The general public is still not aware of this step, and the government urges them to get more awareness about this new rule so as to free themselves from the hassles of filling affidavits.