HOW THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY WORKS IN INDIA

This article will provide guidance on How the central authority works in India.  Serving process in a foreign State requires careful attention to different bodies of law — that of the forum, that of the receiving State, and that of the community of nations. While rules for service of process vary by US jurisdiction, they vary even more greatly by country. International service of process in India is a complex legal process that ensures proper service of legal documents from foreign jurisdictions on individuals and entities in India, following international standards. 

US courts lack the authority to serve process abroad without the consent and, often, the involvement of local judicial authorities. Historically, this consent and involvement were gained only through the transmission of a “Letter Rogatory,” a special request from the forum court to the court having jurisdiction over the foreign defendant.  India follows the Hague Service Convention, which governs the process of serving documents from other member countries to individuals or entities in India. The Convention aims to improve cross-border legal proceedings by providing efficient service, simplified procedures, and increased predictability. When legal papers originating in another country need to be served on a person or business in India, a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal may be an invaluable asset in effectuating the service of process. Our local process servers in India serve civil and commercial matters pursuant to the Hague Service Convention.  We aim to facilitate litigants by providing a reliable and efficient means of serving the documents on parties living, operating, or based in another country. Click here for a video on International Process Service

Responsibility of the Ministry of Law as the Central Authority

In 2007, India ratified both The Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra Judicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters and the Hague Convention on Taking Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters. The Ministry of Law and Justice serves as the central authority for both conventions. The Ministry of Law is responsible for the task of serving summons and notifications to Indian citizens through Judicial Authorities, as received from other nations under the Conventions. The Ministry of Law is also conversely responsible for the transmission of summonses and notifications from domestic judicial authorities to the Central Authorities of other nations.

The Hague Convention applies when a foreign court or judicial authority needs to serve a summons on an individual in India or when an Indian court orders service of summons on a foreign national or corporate entity in a foreign country that is a party to the Hague Convention. The Hague Service Convention facilitates the transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents between signatory countries. Before the Hague Service Convention, service of process was done exclusively through Letters of Request/Rogatory. 

What does the Ministry of Law do?

The Ministry of Law is responsible for managing legal proceedings on behalf of the Government of India and Union Territories. This includes representation before the Supreme Court, different High Courts, the Central Administrative Tribunal, and District and Subordinate Courts. The functions of this entity encompass various tasks, such as managing the appointments of the Attorney General of India, the Solicitor General, and the Additional Solicitor General of India. Additionally, it oversees the engagement of Central Government Counsel in the Supreme Court, High Courts, the Central Administrative Tribunal, District and Subordinate Courts, and Consumer Forums in certain states. These legal professionals are responsible for representing the Central Government in litigation matters. In addition to other responsibilities, the entity’s tasks include developing and resolving the terms and circumstances that govern the proceedings overseas. 

The Ministry’s responsibilities include the issuance of statutory orders. These orders authorize different officers to sign and verify plaints and written statements in lawsuits in any civil court or in writ proceedings involving the Central Government.  The Ministry is responsible for managing reciprocal agreements with other nations for the delivery of summons in civil actions, the execution of judgments issued by Civil Courts, the enforcement of maintenance orders, and the administration of the estates of foreigners who passed away in India without a valid will. 

Navigating the service requirements of other countries is often complex. However, at Undisputed Legal, we aim to give you the smoothest possible service. It’s as picking up the phone, dialing our office, or going through our website. The whole staff here is committed to helping you out. We are able to meet any process-serving requirements in India.

PROCESS Service of Summons in India

The service of summons in India must follow the steps outlined in the Convention. The State of Origin’s authority or judicial officer must send a request, in the prescribed format, to the Ministry of Law and Justice. The request should include the document to be served or a copy. Both the request and the document must be served in duplicate. The Ministry will serve the document if it is in the correct format, either by using its resources or by hiring a suitable agency. The service method will be determined by the Ministry’s internal law or the applicant’s specific request, as long as it does not conflict with Indian domestic law. Requests for service of documents in India must be in English or include an English translation.

The Law Ministry will serve the summary of the document along with the document itself, as requested.  The Applicant must cover expenses related to hiring a judicial officer or a legally qualified person, as well as costs associated with using a specific method of service. The Law Ministry will provide a certificate to the Applicant after serving the document. The certificate will include details such as the method, place, date of service, and the person who received the document. The certificate would outline the reasons for incomplete service. The process of serving summons outside India. Moreover, two to three weeks are allowed for the file to be examined by the concerned Ministry in India. In total, one would need to plan for about four to five months to effect service of summons in a foreign country.

The lengthy period for service of process is daunting. However, we at Undisputed Legal can take much of the stress off our clients’ shoulders.  The Central Authority will serve the document if it meets the required format. It can serve the document itself or arrange for an appropriate agency. Consequently, utilizing our local Undisputed Legal servers is effective, especially since our servers are intimately familiar with all the ins and outs of international process service in India. Bear in mind the method of service will be determined by the internal law of the Central Authority or by the specific method requested by the applicant as long as it is not incompatible with the law of the State being served. The Central Authority can request that the document be written or translated into the official language(s) of the State it is being sent to.

Under the present Convention, if a writ of summons or similar document needs to be served abroad, and a judgment is entered against a defendant who did not appear, the judge can relieve the defendant from the time limit for appealing the judgment. This is possible if the defendant had no knowledge of the document or judgment in time to defend or appeal and if the defendant has a valid defense to the action. The relief application must be filed promptly after the defendant becomes aware of the judgment. Contracting States can reject applications filed after a specified time, which must be at least one year after the judgment date. In India, this provision applies, and relief applications must be filed within one year from the date of the judgment. 

Alternative means of PROCESS service

The Hague Convention does not apply in India for the direct service of judicial documents. India has agreed to this and does not permit direct service through the diplomatic or consular agents of the State of Origin unless the document is to be served on a national of the State of Origin. India opposes all methods of service under Article 10, prohibiting the use of postal channels, judicial officers, officials, or other competent individuals in India, as well as the State of Origin or individuals involved in judicial proceedings, for document service. The Convention only allows service through the Central Authority, the Ministry of Law. United States courts have provided that summons can be served in India through Facebook and email. This method is not covered under Article 10 of the Hague Convention, and India has not objected to this type of service.

In the case of Anupama Sharma v. Union of India, the New York Court privately delivered the summons to the petitioner in the ongoing proceedings. The petitioner argued that the service of summons did not comply with Articles 3 and 5 of the Hague Convention. This is because the summons was not served to the Indian Government by the U.S. Court but instead delivered privately. It should be noted that the originating court can thereinafter request the respondent to serve the summons again according to the provisions of the Convention.

Countries have the right to refuse a service if it would violate their sovereignty or security, in addition to the reservations mentioned earlier. For example, the Hague Convention would no longer apply if [A.] the address of the person to be served is unknown; [B.] the case is not related to civil or commercial matters, and  [C.] the document to be served is not a judicial or extra-judicial document. However, a judge may give judgment without a certificate of service or delivery from the Central Authority if the Contracting State allows it and certain conditions are met.

Challenges for PROCESS service

Service of process in India presents unique challenges. US litigants have access to Article 5 channels for the serving process in India. Requests should be directed to the Indian Central Authority, which operates with significant delays. The Central Authority experiences significant delays, resulting in months-long processing times for Hague requests. US litigants should anticipate a delay of at least six to nine months, sometimes even longer than a year, for service of process using the standard Central Authority procedure.

Each Contracting State must inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands of the designation of the central authorities as well as the designation of the authority competent to complete the certificate in addition to the designation of the authority competent to receive documents transmitted by consular channels, pursuant to Article 9. Consequently, each state should inform the Ministry of [A.] the opposition to the use of methods of transmission pursuant to Articles 8 and 10, [B.] declarations under Article 15 and  Article 16; [C.] all modifications of the designations, oppositions, and declarations.

If a request for service complies with the terms of the present Convention, the State addressed may refuse to comply therewith only if it deems that compliance would infringe its sovereignty or security. It may not refuse to comply solely on the ground that, under its internal law, it claims exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action or that its internal law would not permit the action upon which the application is based. In case of refusal, the Central Authority shall promptly inform the applicant and state the reasons.

Specifics of United States Documents served in India

US documents do not require translation for valid service under Indian law. However, proof of service from the Central Authority is typically provided in Hindi (or other official languages,) often handwritten. Proof must be translated to be accepted in US courts. Documents to be served must be understandable by the defendant to meet US Due Process requirements. Translation into Hindi, Urdu, or other official languages may not be necessary in India, but the forum court may require it if the defendant does not speak English.

The judgment is enforceable in the country of service. A judgment from a US court can be enforced in India if it is served under the Hague Convention for a case filed in the US court. The Hague Convention requirements must be met when serving documents in civil matters, including matrimonial, divorce, custody, family law, commercial, and corporate cases. India’s special requirements must be fulfilled. 

The Apostille Convention,  and the Hague Convention, eliminate the need to legalize Foreign Public Documents for countries like India and the USA who have signed it. The Hague Convention ‘Apostille’ certification allows for mutual recognition of documents between India and other countries. No additional certification from the Embassy/Consulates of India is needed. The convention applies to public documents executed in one Contracting State and produced in another.

In India, attestation by the Indian Embassy/Consulate is often recognized and requested, even if the document has already been apostilled.  The Consulate requires documents to be notarized and apostilled by the relevant state authorities in the US before they are attested. Apostilling is performed at the applicant’s local Secretary of State offices. The Consulate can refuse to attest documents that contain objectionable or rule-violating content. The Consulate does not attest to Commercial Documents. The document needs to be apostilled by US Government Authorities for use in India.

The Consulate does not require a specific format for the Power of Attorney (PoA). It can be in any format the applicant prefers, whether on plain paper or Indian Stamp Paper (which the Consulate does not provide).

Additionally, a United States Power of Attorney is valid in India. The procedure for this will vary by state in India. The process involves executing and attesting a specific Power of Attorney by the Indian consulate in the USA. The Power of Attorney must be sent to India and reviewed by the collector under the Indian Stamp Act 1899. The appropriate stamp duty must be paid within three months of receiving the Power of Attorney in India. The Power of Attorney must be registered by the holder before they can exercise the powers granted and sell the property.

We guarantee accountability here at Undisputed Legal and make an effort to ensure that our clients are always aware of where their documents are.  Documents can be faxed at (800)-296-0115, emailed to ps@undisputedlegal.com, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, a sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

OUR PROCESS

Documents can be faxed at (800)-296-0115, emailed to ps@undisputedlegal.com, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist receives all documents. Check out our video on serving legal papers internationally; click here.

DOMESTIC COVERAGE AREAS:

Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:

Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados | Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus| Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland | Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg| Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico| MonacoMontenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands | New Zealand|Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland | Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands| UkraineUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam

OFFICE LOCATIONS

New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 300, Washington DC 20004

FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS IN INDIA

Pick up the phone and call Toll Free (800) 774-6922, or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your India process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A

Sources

1. The Central Authority for India is the Ministry of Law and Justice’s Department of Legal Affairs, located in Room No 439A, 4th Floor, A-Wing, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi-110001, India.

2. Furthermore, the entity is responsible for hiring Law Officers and other Counsel on behalf of Ministries/Departments to handle cases before the Supreme Court, High Courts, Tribunals, Commission of Inquiry, District and Subordinate Courts, and Quasi-Judicial Authorities, among others.

3. As per Rule 1 of Order XXVII of Schedule I to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

4. This section grants the authority to officials to execute contracts and agreements on behalf of the President of India, as Clause 1 of Article 299 stipulates.

5.  Dial us at (800) 774-6922

6. Generally, most countries do not entertain mutual legal assistance requests if a case’s date of appearance or hearing is less than three months away.

7.  Article 6, Hague Convention.

8. Article 16

When a writ of summons or an equivalent document had to be transmitted abroad for service, under the provisions of the present Convention, and a judgment has been entered against a defendant who has not appeared, the judge shall have the power to relieve the defendant from the effects of the expiration of the time for appeal from the judgment if the following conditions are fulfilled –

a)  the defendant, without any fault on his part, did not know the document in sufficient time to defend or knowledge of the judgment in sufficient time to appeal, and
b)  the defendant has disclosed a prima facie defense to the action on the merits.

An application for relief may be filed only within a reasonable time after the defendant knows the judgment.

Each Contracting State may declare that the application will not be entertained if it is filed after the expiration of a time to be stated in the declaration, but which shall in no case be less than one year following the date of the judgment.

This Article shall not apply to judgments concerning the status or capacity of persons.

9.  Federal Trade Commission v. PCCare247 Inc., Case No. 12 Civ. 7189. (PAE), 2013 WL 841037.

10. Anupama Sharma v Union of India, 2014 SCC Online Bom 229.

11. The Petitioner argued that India had objected to Article 10 of the Convention, which allows for the service of summons or judicial documents by postal channels to individuals residing abroad. The Bombay High Court stated that it cannot halt the service of summons under its writ jurisdiction. The petitioner should raise this objection in the New York Court.

12. The document was sent according to the Convention’s methods. 

The Judge determines if a minimum of six months has passed since the document was sent. Despite reasonable efforts, no certificate has been received from the authorities of the addressed State.

13. At the time of the deposit of its instrument of ratification or accession or at a later date

14. Article 8

Each Contracting State shall be free to effect service of judicial documents upon persons abroad, without application of any compulsion, directly through its diplomatic or consular agents.

Any State may declare that it is opposed to such service within its territory unless the document is to be served upon a national of the State in which the documents originate.

15. Article 15

Where a writ of summons or an equivalent document had to be transmitted abroad for the purpose of service, under the provisions of the present Convention, and the defendant has not appeared, judgment shall not be given until it is established that –

a)  the document was served by a method prescribed by the internal law of the State addressed for the service of documents in domestic actions upon persons who are within its territory, or
b)  the document was actually delivered to the defendant or to his residence by another method provided for by this Convention,

and that in either of these cases, the service or the delivery was effected in sufficient time to enable the defendant to defend.

Each Contracting State shall be free to declare that the judge, notwithstanding the provisions of the first paragraph of this Article, may give judgment even if no certificate of service or delivery has been received if all the following conditions are fulfilled –

a)  the document was transmitted by one of the methods provided for in this Convention,
b)  a period of time of not less than six months, considered adequate by the judge in the particular case, has elapsed since the date of the transmission of the document,
c)  no certificate of any kind has been received, even though every reasonable effort has been made to obtain it through the competent authorities of the State addressed.

Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding paragraphs, the judge may order, in case of urgency, any provisional or protective measures.

16. India’s declarations to the Hague Service Convention include the following conditions:

  1. Service documents must be in English. USA litigants no longer have to pay for translation costs, which is good news.
  2. Mail cannot be used to serve documents.
  3. In India, documents must be served indirectly through the appropriate authority.
  4. Private judicial officers cannot serve documents directly to defendants in India.

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