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Court helps declare husband 'dead'

A grieving woman had to get a court's help to get her husband declared "not alive" after authorities refused to register his death because she did not follow the "correct procedure".

delhi Updated: Nov 18, 2007 12:55 IST

A grieving woman had to get a court's help to get her husband declared "not alive" after authorities refused to register his death because she did not follow the "correct procedure".

After waiting almost nine years for her missing husband to return home, Pushpa Bhalla finally accepted that he was presumably dead.

However, authorities have been dilly dallying for the past three years on her plea for his "death certificate", forcing the hapless woman to knock on the judiciary's doors.

Accepting her plea, a civil court here has finally passed a decree declaring that her husband Krishan Lal was "not alive" and directed the civic authorities to register his death in their records.

Bhalla, a resident of Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi, had her request to get her husband declared dead turned down by the area sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) because of technical faults in her application.

The Defence Colony SDM and MCD had declined her plea contending she did not follow the "correct procedure" and her notice was also not in accordance with the law.

Civil Judge Ashish Aggarwal, however, strongly disapproved the MCD's denial and said that dismissing the suit for the said reasons would be a "pedantic view of the matter at the expense of substantial justice".

"Mere mentioning of the wrong provision of law does not affect the validity of the notice," the court said in a recent order, observing when the facts were unequivocally made clear to the MCD, they should have taken care of her request to prevent litigation.

Taking exception to the conduct of the civic authorities, the judge said when Bhalla had satisfactorily proved that her husband was not seen or heard of after going out of his house on December 28, 1998, it was their duty to register his death and issue a death certificate to her.

The court passed the order after Bhalla and her husband's brother testified about his disappearance in 1998 and also produced a police report declaring him as untraced.

"I am satisfied that presuming that who would have naturally heard of Krishan Lal, have not heard of him for last seven years, it is presumed that he has expired," the court said, referring to the provision of Indian Evidence Act.