This article has been written by Ravi Shankar Pandey, a 1st-year student of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow. In this article, he has discussed the qualification along with the roles and responsibilities of the Oath Commissioners in India.


Commissioner of oath or oath commissioner is a law officer, usually a fresh lawyer, appointed by the Registrar of the High Court under legal provisions. Oath commissioners are the persons responsible for administering and witnessing the solemn affirmations or swearing of oaths which is required for maintaining the sanctity of the legal document which acts as a certification that the declaration  has been rendered under the competent authority is true and thus, may be used as per the judicial requirements. In simple terms, their job is to attest the affidavits of the deponents. The presence of oath commissioners is enough to provide inherent value to the documents which are to be presented for any task requiring genuineness and is related to the individual concerned.

Before forwarding the documents further, oath commissioners are required to initially ensure, about its authenticity and when they feel contented with the documents and information provided to them, they may certify them by signing.

It is a general convention that only those fresh law graduates who are unable to pursue litigation or other career opportunities for financial restraints adopt this career to serve as oath commissioners. However, we may say that their role is as vital as any other person in the whole decision-making body.

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What is an Affidavit?

The affidavit can be simply understood as “a written statement which is voluntarily made by a person, before a person who is authorised by law to administer affirmations and oaths in order to attest them”. Attesting an affidavit or a declaration provides a legal sanctity and recognition to it along with a binding value (similar to the value a paper note due to the signature of the RBI governor) for its further use as per judicial or administrative requirements.

An affidavit is a tool to guarantee a person’s word which when discovered to be untrue, may result in a necessary action against the person who has given the false undertaking. However, the use of affidavits in everyday life for certification may also be seen as the distrust of the government in its people.
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Indian Oaths Act, 1969

Jeremy Bentham has defined oath as “a ceremony composed of words and gestures, by which Almighty is engaged eventually to inflict on the taker of the oath, or swearer, as he is called, punishment in quantity and quality liquidated or more commonly unliquidated, in the event of his doing something which he, the swearer, at the same time and thereby engages not to do, or omitting to do something which he in like manner engages to”.

From ancient India, oaths are treated as the species of ordeal which fall under the province of dharma thinkers. This was the main reason that the oath making process, before the enactment of the Oaths Act, was done with the assistance of sacred texts like Geeta and the holy Quran.

Indian Oaths Act which came into force in 1969 by repealing the old act of 1873. It contains 9 Sections which deal with the commission and administration of oaths by oath commissioners by empowering the Courts and persons for the task of administration. In addition, the Act also prescribes the form or template on which the attestation of the oath administered may be carried out in its schedule.

Similarly, under Section 8, the Act bounds a person giving evidence to state truth on that subject for maintaining the sanctity of the document which is to be presented in the Court.

Qualification required for appointment as an Oath Commissioner

Any person enrolled as an advocate with bar council of India having more than two years of practice and less then three is eligible for appointment as an oath commissioner.

So, for a person to reach that stage of qualification, he must follow certain steps:

  1. He must get a law degree. Now in India, the process of getting a law degree is not that time taking as it used to be in the past. Now, one may get admission in a law program right after his senior secondary (class 12th) in courses like B.A./B.Com./B.Sc.LL.B. which are 5-year integrated programs. On the other hand, if you want to go for legal studies after your graduation, you still go through a three-year LL.B. program and may solely focus on your law without having any pressure of liberal subjects which form a major part of the 5-year program.
  2. Now, after you have completed your legal studies and received your degree from your institution, you may apply for enrolling yourself to get the license from Bar Council of India to become a practicing lawyer (advocate) in any state bar council which is regulated under Advocates Act 1961 and to fulfill the requirement of enough experience for appointment as a notary.
  3. An advocate practising for more than two years and not satisfied with his employment may request the Registrar of the High Court of that particular state for his appointment as an oath commissioner. He must state in his application that he is not capable of earning his livelihood from his profession.
  4. After considering his application fit, the Registrar may appoint that person as an oath commissioner. It must be kept in mind that such appointment is meant for supporting the advocates financially only and this is the reason that the term of the post is 3 years from the date of appointment and is not extended thereafter.

Works and Responsibilities of an Oath Commissioner

As the name suggests, the task of an oath commissioner is supervision and administration of the oath. But, it requires further explanation discussed below:

  1. The post of oath commissioner is commissioned under section 139 of Civil Procedure Code, section 297 of the Criminal Procedure Code and under section 3 of the Indian Oaths Act. He is responsible for attesting affidavits for judicial proceedings only. An affidavit which is to be filed before an administrative or an executive authority cannot be attested by an oath commissioner.
  2. The appointment of an oath commissioner is limited to a particular court for a limited time frame. He is expected to be present in the court premises during the period for which he had been commissioned.
  3. The place where the oath commissioner will reside for attesting the documents is decided with mutual consent of concerned Bar Association of the concerned complex and the oath commissioner himself along with other oath commissioners, if and when required.
  4. The Bar Association of that particular place has the responsibility to arrange a place for the oath commissioner where he will reside during the working hours (10:00 am to 5:00 pm ).
  5. The presence of at least one commissioner is mandatory at the place allotted during the working hours for attesting affidavits.
  6. The Bar Association of the concerned place is required to ensure the presence of oath commissioners during working hours.
  7. All oath commissioners are permitted to attest the affidavits during working hours in their respective chambers situated within the court complex. The availability of oath commissioner may be on a rotation basis. However, it must be noted that the work of attesting cannot be done in court buildings, Bar and lawyers room, lobby area or canteen premises etc.
  8. The oath commissioners are expected to follow their dress codes during office hours.
  9. Oath commissioners are required to maintain the following information in their diary:
  1. Date and the serial number of the affidavit.
  2. The case number for which affidavit is being attested.
  3. Name of the deponent (the person making the affidavit)
  4. Name of father/mother of the deponent.
  5. Address of the person deponent (as per the affidavit)
  6. Name of the person who identifies the deponent
  7. Signature of the deponent along with the address of the person identifying the deponent (in some cases).

10. Every oath commissioner should possess different rubber stamps providing space for the following details:

  1. Name of the oath commissioner in block letters.
  2. The period of commission along with the unique number given by the High Court.
  3. The statement by the High Court that the oath commissioner has been appointed by the High Court.
  4. Space for the name, signature and occupation of the person who identifies the deponent.
  5. The name of deponent along with the name of his/her father/mother’s name.
  6. The address of the deponent along with the serial number of the affidavit.
  7. Space for signature of the oath commissioner.

11. The oath commissioner attesting an affidavit is required to scrutinize it in order to make it in the correct form.

12. When the oath commissioner knows the deponent beforehand, he shall mention it in the form of a certificate.

13. When the deponent is illiterate, it is the responsibility of the oath commissioner to read the affidavit along with translating and interpreting it. The oath commissioner shall certify the facts and render the consequences of the affidavit to the deponent in the language known to him.

14. When the language is known to the deponent, the oath commissioner is required to certify that the deponent is well versed with the affidavit and had acknowledged the information present in the affidavit as correct and true.

15. If the deponent is a pardanashin lady, there must be a separate affidavit for the person identifying her unless she is known to the person administering the oath.

16. Every exhibit must be marked, initialed and dated, by the oath commissioner before it is affirmed or sworn.

17. The Register maintained throughout the term of the oath commissioner is generally returned after the expiry of his term to the district and the Session Judge or deposited to the respective High Court, as the case may be.

The difference between an Oath Commissioner and a Notary

Although the task and nature of the work are quite similar in both the professions, there are differences between the two however minute they may be. Some of the differences are discussed below:

  1. An oath commissioner’s job is to attest only those affidavits which are to be presented in the court in judicial proceedings. Whereas, a notary is empowered to attest every document required in day to day life by the public such as documents related to property, business affairs, deeds etc., so that they can get legal recognition. A notary can also certify the copy of a document as original copy this adds legal sanctity to it and it’s also empowered to translate the document as per requirement and subsequently certify it as a true translation.
  2. An oath commissioner is appointed by the Registrar of respective High Court under whose jurisdiction the appointment is to be made. On the contrary, a notary is adjusted by the State Government or the Central Government under Indian Notaries Act.
  3. A notary is a qualified person having at least ten years of experience as an advocate or a judiciary qualified person as required under Notaries Act whereas an oath commissioner is a fresh advocate (around two years after getting registered with the bar) which applies for the post generally for establishing his legal career.

How much do Oath Commissioners earn?

An Oath Commissioner’s wage and remuneration is mostly dependant on the expertise that he earns through his clients. He may charge reasonably for the task of attestation as per the established norms of his Bar Association. However, he is expected to always keep a record diary with himself for the money he received as his fees for attesting the affidavits and declarations. The Courts are, however free to issue the guidelines.


As Oath is administered in the name of God, in the general form of “I do swear in the name of God that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, it clearly shows the sanctity that is required to be maintained and what is attested and forwarded, must be the truth as it is known to all the persons involved whether he is the person making the oath, the witness or the Oath Commissioner involving in the task of attesting.

However, there are many cases where the Oath administered was due to coercion and fraud especially, in the sale of the property. Even, the seriousness and piousness which used to be earlier have decreased drastically which has resulted in a state of dilemma where even after the attested document is presented in the Court, one cannot say confidently that the proceeding is undergoing with the assistance of utmost true document. Thus, the responsibility of the oath commissioner has increased in the recent past to keep a more cautious check on the process of oath commission.


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