1. It appears that, in connection with certain documents, the State Government being the defendant in the suit, at the stage of answers to interrogatories, raised a contention that the documents were privileged, and by the order dated March 13, 1969, the learned Civil Judge, Senior Division, Ahmednagar, held that the submissions made about the privilege claimed in the affidavit filed on behalf of the Government were insufficient. His order was: 'I therefore disallow the prayer regarding the privilege.' By a further order dated July 15, 1969, the learned Judge rejected the application (Ex. 37) made on behalf of the State Government for reconsidering . the question of privilege. The submission on behalf of the State Was that, in the fresh affidavit which was then filed, facts relevant to the question of privilege had been stated. The question should, therefore, be reconsidered. The learned Judge then held that, having regard to his previous order dated March 13, 1969, it would not be proper and just to review the question again raised at a later stage,
2: Now, Mr. Dalvi for the State Government is right in his submission that when a question of privilege is raised on behalf of the Government in any suit or proceedings, normally, that question must be decided at the hearing of the suit when in the course of recording of evidence a demand for document is made on behalf of a party to the suit and the State Government claims privilege and refuses to produce it. Ordinarily after permitting the Government to produce such material as it desires in support of its claim for privilege that only at that stage the Court should decide the question and either accept or reject the claim for privilege. It was somewhat abnormal and out of the ordinary for the lower Court to decide the question of privilege at the stage of interrogatories and/or disclosure of documents. Even if the claim for privilege is made and inspection of disclosed documents is refused on the ground of privilege at earlier stage, the question should never be decided at the stage at which the learned Judge below passed his order dated March 13, 1969. He should have directed that the normal practice and procedure was to decide the question when whilstevidence is being recorded the Government claims privilege and refuses to permit the documents to be brought on record. The order dated March 13, 1969, was liable to be reviewed at the hearing of the suit. It was prematurely made without giving sufficient opportunity to the Government for making its appropriate submissions and tendering evidence in support of the claim for privilege.
3. Under the circumstances, the order dated March 13, 1969, and July 15, 1969, are set aside. The question of privilege, if raised by the Government at me hearing of the suit, will be decided afresh by the trial court.
4. Rule absolute. There will be no order as to costs.
5. Rule made absolute.