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Ram Khelawan Bhagwati Vs. Sunder Nankau and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Ref. No. 89 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1970All154; 1970CriLJ305
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 145, 145(4) and 145(9)
AppellantRam Khelawan Bhagwati
RespondentSunder Nankau and anr.
Appellant AdvocateGovt. Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS.S. Chauhan, Adv.
DispositionReference allowed
Excerpt:
.....any person directing to produce any document or thing - affidavit need not be filed - right to examine witnesses available with magistrate - at any stage of proceedings even before initiation of proceedings. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not a school recognised by any such board comparable to the divisional board or the state board. the school tribunal constituted under section 8 of the maharashtra act cannot..........land............my considered opinion, therefore, is that a magistrate may, at the request of a party, examine, if he thinks fit a person as a witness under sub-section (9) of section 145, even if such a person has not filed an affidavit contemplated by subsection (1) of that sectioa'10. in air 1960 raj 15, bahori v. ghure it was held:--'the proviso to sub-section (4) of section 145 is merely an enabling provision of law which entitles the magistrate to summon and examine any of the persons whose affidavits have been filed on behalf of the parties, if he so desires in order to decide the question of possession; but the proviso does not preclude the magistrate from calling as a witness any other person that he thinks proper to examine. subsection (9) of section 145 contemplates such a.....
Judgment:

R. Chandra, J.

1. This reference arises out of the proceedings under Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Ram Khelawan the petitioner, applied to the Magistrate for summoning the Lekhpal for filing an affidavit in that case. The Magistrate disallowed the prayer on the ground that under the existing law, there was no provision for summoning a witness for giving evidence in a case under Section 145 of the Cri. P. C. In the revision filed against that order, the Sessions Judge, Lucknow, did not agree with that view. So, he made a reference to the High Court recommending that the order of the Magistrate be quashed, and he be directed to decide the application of Ram Khelawan for summoning the Lekhpal on the merits. The reference came up for hearing before Brother Misra. J. He thought that the view expressed by Desai, J. (as he then was), in the case of Bhagwat Singh v. State, AIR 1959 All 763, that the Magistrate can summon only those persons for examination whose affidavits have been put in, needed reconsideration. So, he referred the matter to a Bench, in these circumstances, this reference has come up for hearing before us. We have heard Sri Chauhan, Counsel for the opposite parties. Nobody, however, appeared from the side of the applicant in spite of sufficient service. Since the matter was of some importance, we also called upon the Government Advocate to address us.

2. In AIR 1959 All 763 (Supra) Desai, J. interpreting the provisions of sub-sections (4) and (9) of Section 145 of the Criminal P. C. observed:

'The provisions of Section 145 were amended with effect from 1-1-1956 by the Criminal P. C. (Amendment) Act (No. 26 of 1955). Previously affidavits were not allowed to be produced and witnesses had to be examined orally. Now the law has been changed and the legislature has provided that only affidavits should be put in evidence and that if any witnesses are to be examined, they must be the persons whose affidavits have already been put in; no person can be examined as a witness unless his affidavit is on the record............. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...Sub-section (4) lays down how the sub-Divisional Magistrate is to proceed after the parties have appeared before him; he is required to peruse the written statements, documents and affidavits, if any put in, hear the parties and decide which party was in possession on the relevant date. There is a proviso to the effect that he 'may, if he so thinks fit, summon and examine any person whose affidavit has been put in as to the facts contained therein'. This provision means that he is required to peruse only the statements, documents and affidavits and then hear the parties and conclude the inquiry; he is not required to examine any person as a witness. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Sub-section (9) does not confer any right Upon a party to examine a person as its witness; it only lays down the procedure to be followed in procuring the attendance of its witnesses. Whether it has a right to examine a witness or not has to be ascertained from other provisions. All that the sub-section means is that if a party has a right to examine a witness orally, it may obtain from the Magistrate a summon directing him to attend the Court. The first proviso to Sub-section (4) is the only provision which confers a right upon a party to examine a witness orally in the Court; so Sub-section (9) must be read with the first proviso to subsection (4).

The Magistrate's failure to pass a proper order contemplated by Section 145 (1) and to require the parties to put in affidavits does not confer any right on the parties to examine witnesses whose affidavits are not on the record...............'

This view was also followed by the Division Bench in the case of Section Jodh Singh V. Mahant Bhagambar Das, AIR 1961 Punj 187.

'Though we feel that the continued existence of Sub-section (9) in its present form is certainly not very apt and requires looking into by the Legislature, yet we have no doubt in our mind that It gives no right to a party to summon or examine any witness orally apart from the right given to it to adduce evidence as detailed in Sub-section (1) and that oral examination of a witness must be confined within the limits imposed by the newly added proviso namely the first proviso to Sub-section (4).'

With the greatest respect we do not agree with the view expressed in these cases. Our reasons shall follow.

3. For finding out the real intention of the Legislature, we propose to examine in detail the provisions of Section 145 of the Criminal P. C. as they stand after the amendment by Act 26 of 1955. The section reads:

'(1) Whenever a District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Magistrate or Magistrate of the first class is satisfied from a police-report or other information that a dispute likely to cause a breach of the peace exists concerning any land or water or the boundaries thereof, within the local limits of his iurisdiction, he shall make an order in writing stating the grounds of his being so satisfied, and requiring the parties concerned in such dispute to attend his Court in person or by pleader, within a time to be fixed by such Magistrate, and to put in written statements of their respective claims as respects the fact of actual possession of the subject of dispute 'and further requiring them to put in such documents, or to adduce, by putting in affidavits, the evidence of such persons, as they rely upon in support of such claims'.

(2) For the purposes of this section the expression 'land or water' includes buildings, markets, fisheries ........................

(3) A copy of the order shall be served in manner provided by this Code for the service of a summons upon such person or persons as the Magistrate may direct, and at least one copy shall be published by being affixed to some conspicuous place at or near the subject of dispute.

(4) 'The Magistrate shall then without reference to the merits or the claims of any of such parties to a right to possess the subject of dispute peruse the statements, documents and affidavits, if any, so put in, hear the parties and conclude the inquiry, as far as may be practicable, within a period of two months from the date of the appearance of the parties before him and, if possible, decide the question whether any and which of the parties was at the date of the order before mentioned in such possession of the said subject:

'Provided that the Magistrate may, if he so thinks fit, summon and examine any person whose affidavit has been put in as to the facts contained therein':

'Provided further that, if it appears to the Magistrate that any party has within two months next before the date of such order been forcibly and wrongfully dispossessed he may treat the party so dispossessed as if he had been in possession at such date'.

'Provided also that, if the Magistrate considers the case one of emergency, he may at any time attach the subject of dispute, pending his decision under this section,'

(5) Nothing in this section shall preclude any party so required to attend, or any other person interested from showing that no such dispute as aforesaid exists or has existed; and in such case the Magistrate shall cancel his said order, and all further proceedings thereon shall be stayed, but, subject to such cancellation, the order of the Magistrate under Sub-section (1) shall be final.

(6) If the Magistrate decides that one of the parties was or should under the second proviso to Sub-section (4) be treated as being in such possession of the said subject, he shall issue an order declaring such party to be entitled to possession thereof until evicted therefrom in due course of law, and forbidding all disturbance of such possession until such eviction, and when he proceeds under the second proviso to Sub-section (4), may restore to possession the party forcibly and wrongfully dispossessed,

(9) The Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, at any stage of the proceedings under this section, on the application of either party, issue a summons to any witness directing him to attend or to produce any document or thing...........................'.

(The underlined (here into ' ') portions indicate amendments made to the section by Act No. 26 of 1955).

4. Section 145 is intended only to provide a speedy remedy for the prevention of breaches of peace arising out of disputes relating to immoveable property by allowing one or either of the parties in possession. By Act No. 26 of 1955, certain important changes have been introduced. The main object of the amendments is quicker disposal of enquiries under this section. Sub-sections (1), (4) (5) and (6) of this section are complementary. Once an order has been passed under Sub-section (1), it is obligatory for a Magistrate to make the enquiry provided for in subsection (4) subject only to the obligation under Sub-section (5) to determinate proceedings in the circumstances therein contemplated. The words of Sub-section (4) 'the Magistrate shall then.........' are mandatory. The word 'then' refers to the stage when in compliance with the order under Sub-section (1) the parties have put in their written statements and attended the Court. Sub-section (5) is emphatic that the order under Sub-sec-tion (1) shall be final subject to the one exception that the Magistrate shall cancel the order and stay all further proceedings if it is shown that no dispute likely to cause breach of the peace exists or has existed. On the completion of the enquiry under Sub-section (4) a final order under Sub-section (6) must follow it being obvious that the holding of the said enquiry is a condition precedent to the making of the order under Sub-section (6).

5. The use of the word 'then' in the beginning of Sub-section (4) indicates that the question of determination of factum of possession under Sub-section (4) arises only after the requirements of Sub-sections (1) and (3) have been complied with.

6. The words 'hear the parties' occurring in Sub-section (4) of Section 145 as amended by Act No. 26 of 1955 would mean 'hear the arguments of the parties' and would not include taking the evidence of the parties if they desired to appear as witnesses. The words 'receive all such evidence as may be produced by them respectively' have now been omitted from Section 145 (4) and in the first proviso to Section 145' (4) the examination of witnesses whose affidavits have been filed alone has been provided.

7. Taking of oral evidence is now not compulsory. The Magistrate may now ordinarily decide the question of possession on perusal of the written statements, documents, and affidavits, if any, and upon hearing the parties. If, however, he thinks it proper, he may summon and examine a person whose affidavit has been filed as to the facts contained in his affidavit.

8. Though the amendments made under this section in 1955 aimed at expeditious disposal of proceedings and for that purpose this section has been extensively amended, Sub-section (9) has been retained in its old form. The newly added proviso to Sub-section (4) empowered the Magistrate to summon and examine any person whose affidavit has been put in. He is also empowered under Sub-section (9) to summon any witness at any stage of the proceedings on the application of either party. Neither in subsection (9) nor in the proviso to Sub-section (4), a party has a right to examine a witness. In either case, the discretion lies with the Magistrate. When it is not possible for a party to obtain affidavits from persons who may be competent to speak about the possession, the Magistrate has the discretion to examine such persons as witnesses under Sub-section (9). Our reasons for this view are, that the first proviso to Sub-section (4) is quite independent of Sub-section (9), That proviso would govern only Sub-section (4) and not other Sub-sections which follow it. The view that Sub-section (9) was subject to the proviso to Sub-section (4) would be violating all rules of interpretation of the statutes. The proper function of a proviso is to except and deal with a case which would otherwise fall within the general language of the main enactment and its effect is confined only to that case. In AIR 1957 Bom 20. Keshavlal Premchand v. Commissioner of Income-tax Bombay, their Lordships observed;

'A proviso, which is in fact and in substance a proviso, can only operate to deal with a case which but for it would have fallen within the ambit of the section to which the proviso is a proviso, the section deals with a particular field and the proviso excepts or takes out or carves out from the field a particular portion, and therefore, it is perfectly true that before a proviso can have any application the section itself must apply. It is equally true that the proviso cannot deal with any other field than the field which the section itself deals with...............If a proviso is capable of a wider connotation and is also capable of a narrower connotation, if the narrower connotation brings it within the purview of the section, then the Court must prefer the narrower connotation--rather than the wider connotation..................'.

The proviso to Sub-section (4) of Section 145 confers a right on the Magistrate in suitable cases to summon and examine 'any person' whose affidavit has been put in as to the facts contained therein. This simply means, that where necessary, the Magistrate could summon and examine any person who has filed an affidavit in the case. That evidence is also to be confined to the facts mentioned in those affidavits. That contingency would arise only in the case of ambiguity in the affidavit filed by the parties witnesses. As stated earlier, this specific provision was made by the amendment of 1955. Subsection (9) even existed prior to the amendment, and was allowed to continue. So, it could not be said that the same was redundant or superfluous. If that was so, the Legislature could have omitted it when drastic changes were made in Section 145. A plain reading of Sub-section (9) clearly indicates that it was quite independent of Sub-section (4). It empowers the Magistrate where necessary 'at any stage' of the proceedings on the application of either party to summon 'any witness' directing him to 'attend or to produce any document or thing'. The words used in the proviso to Sub-section (4) are 'any person' but in Sub-section (9) the words are 'any witness'. The said proviso is restricted to the evidence of only those persons who have filed the affidavit. But Sub-section (9) says that 'any witness' could be summoned at any stage. There is not the least indication that its scope is also confined only to the persons who have filed affidavits in the case. 'At any stage' occurring in the sub-section may even be prior to the filing of the affidavits. On the facts of the instant case, it is unnecessary to enter into the question whether the Magistrate has also the power to record the evidence of any witness summoned under that sub-section. As stated earlier, the request of the petitioner was only to summon the Lekhpal for filing an affidavit, but the Magistrate summarily dismissed the petition on the ground that there was no such provision under the existing law, which empowered him to summon any witness to file an affidavit. That power clearly existed under Sub-section (9). So, we are convinced that the provisions of Sub-section (9) are quite independent of Sub-section (4). In suitable cases, the Magistrate could summon any witness irrespective of the fact whether he has filed an affidavit in the case, and direct him to attend or produce any document or thing. In the circumstances, there was no bar to the Magistrate in summoning the petitioner's witnesss and directing him to file an affidavit

9. Similar view was also expressed in the Division Bench case of Sheo Kumar Dubey v. Tribhuwan Rai, AIR 1965 Pat 25. The learned Judges disagreed with the view taken by Desai, J. In AIR 1959 All 763 (Supra) and AIR 1961 Punj 187 (Supra). in that connection, Ramratna Singh. J, observed:

'With the greatest respect, I am unable to agree. There is nothing in the language of the proviso to Sub-section (4) or in that of Sub-section (9) to indicate that the former confers a right upon a party to examine a witness orally. It will be noticed that the expression 'if he thinks fit' occurs in both the sub-sections and this expression shows that the discretion lies with the Magistrate. Further, the proviso to Sub-section (4) does not speak of the application of a party, which fact indicates that the Magistrate may examine a person who has sworn an affidavit either of his own motion or at the request of a party, whereas Sub-section (9) enables the Magistrate to summon a witness at the request of a party at any stage of the proceedings. It will also be noticed that the proviso to Sub-section (4) contains the provision to summon and examine any person and therefore, a separate provision like the one in Sub-section (9) is not required for exercising the power given by the proviso. The view taken in the aforesaid decisions can be justified only if Sub-section (9) is completely ignored. This subsection was, in its present form, before the legislature, when extensive amendments were made in 1955 in Sections 145 and 146.

The retention of Sub-section (9) in its old form cannot, therefore be due to mere oversight. It is true that the amendments aimed at expeditious disposal of a proceeding under Section 145; nevertheless, Sub-section (9) was retained. The newly added proviso to Sub-section (4) certainly empowers the Magistrate to summon and examine any person whose affidavit has been put in; but at the same time the legislature also empowered the Magistrate, under Sub-section (9), to summon any witness at any stage of the proceeding on the application of either party. Neither in Sub-section (9) nor in the proviso to Sub-section (4) a party has been given any right to examine a witness; in either case the discretion lies with the Magistrate, and he can summon a person under either of these provisions only if he thinks fit to do so.

In my opinion, the legislature deliberately allowed Sub-section (9) to continue for meeting certain contingencies. It may not be possible for a party to obtain the affidavits of some persons either because they do not want to be identified with a party to the dispute or because they are public servants; at the same time such persons may be very competent to speak about possession. What remedy has a party in such a contingency? A party may, of course, request the Magistrate to ask such a person to swear an affidavit; but the Magistrate has no power to compel such a person to do so. The only other alternative, therefore, for the party is to request the Magistrate to summon such a person and examine him as a witness; and this can be done only under subsection (9). Of course, the Magistrate is not bound to comply with the request of the party; but he has to exercise his discretion judiciously--not arbitrarily. For instance, the Magistrate should ordinarily accede to the request of a party to summon and examine a government servant who may be quite competent to speak about the possession of a disputed land............

My considered opinion, therefore, is that a Magistrate may, at the request of a party, examine, if he thinks fit a person as a witness under Sub-section (9) of Section 145, even if such a person has not filed an affidavit contemplated by subsection (1) of that sectioa'

10. In AIR 1960 Raj 15, Bahori v. Ghure it was held:--

'The proviso to Sub-section (4) of Section 145 is merely an enabling provision of law which entitles the Magistrate to summon and examine any of the persons whose affidavits have been filed on behalf of the parties, if he so desires in order to decide the question of possession; but the proviso does not preclude the Magistrate from calling as a witness any other person that he thinks proper to examine. Subsection (9) of Section 145 contemplates such a situation. Sub-section (9) says that the Magistrate, if he thinks fit, at any stage of the proceedings under the section, on the application of either party, issue summons to any witness directing him to attend or to produce any document or thing. If on the application of either party to the proceeding the Magistrate can do so, he can do so equally in the ends of justice of his own accord............'

11. In AIR 1961 Madh Pra 302, Indore Bench Kanhaiyalal v. Devi Singh it was held:--

'Under Section 145, summons to examine witnesses can be issued either under the first proviso to Sub-section (4) or under Sub-section (9). If they are issued under the former provision, obviously, the summons can be addressed only to those who have put in affidavits; the examination also should be restricted to the contents of the affidavits. The proviso enables the Magistrate to summon and examine a person who puts in affidavit possibly where he finds the affidavit vague or one otherwise calling for some clearing.

But Sub-section (9) is wider than the first proviso to Sub-section (4) and is not limited by the latter. Sub-section (9) really enables any party to move the Magistrate to issue summons for the attendance of any witness who may or may not be a person putting in an affidavit. But the matter of issuing summons under sub-section (9) is discretionary with the Magistrate. Indiscriminate application of that Sub-section will certainly defeat the purpose of the amendment to Sub-section (1) and draw over the proceedings just as long as they could have been under the un-amended law. Thus, simply because a summons had been issued to witnesses other than those putting in the affidavits and they had been examined and their oral evidence considered, it cannot be said that there has been any breach of a man' datorv provision. The issue of summons under Sub-section (9) without any affidavit at all cannot be considered to be an illegality going to the root of the proceedings.'

12. In AIR 1964 Mad 263, Challamuthu Padayachi v. Rajavel it was held:

'...............The powers under Sub-section (9) to summon a witness directing him. to attend or produce a document at any stage of the proceedings on the application of the parties are not in any way affected by the first proviso to Sub-section (4) and the Magistrate can summon any witness under Section 145 (9) to give evidence or to produce a document even though he may not have filed an affidavit under Section 145 (1).'

Similar matter also came up for consideration before the Division Bench of this Court in AIR 1965 All 294, Lalta Ram v. Dalip Singh. Their Lordships observed:

' The Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, at any stage of the proceedings under this section, on the application of either party, issue a summons to any witness directing him to attend or to produce any document or things. The aforesaid section was amended by the Criminal P. C. Amendment Act No. 26 of 1955. Prior to the amendment of the section the parties had the right to examine witnesses in support of their respective cases. One of the changes effected by the Amendment Act, referred to above, was that provision was made for the filing of affidavits and the obiect underlying the aforesaid change was expedition in the disposal of cases and simplification of procedure. The aforesaid change was not brought about because the procedure of examining the witnesses was considered to be either illegal or faulty and we have no doubt that in introducing the aforesaid change expeditious disposal of the proceedings under Section 145, Criminal P. C. was in the contemplation of the Legislature.................There is nothing in Section 145 as it now stands, to indicate that the Intent of the Legislature was that the examination of witnesses would be illegal or that a Court would be precluded from recording oral statements of witnesses proposed to be examined by the parties even in cases in which the parties were not required to and did not file affidavits in support of their respective cases.'. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

'In AIR 1959 All 763, Desai, J., as our Lord the Chief Justice then was, held that under the amended Section 145 of Criminal P. C. only affidavits could be put in evidence and that if any witnesses were to be examined they must be persons whose affidavits had already been put in. With great respect to him we find ourselves unable to agree with the general proposition laid down in that case. The aforesaid decision was followed by the Punjab High Court in the case of AIR 1961 Punj 187. A different view was taken in the case of AIR 1960 Raj 15. In that case a patwari was examined as a Court witness and the question arose as to whether such examination was countenanced by provisions of the Code. It was held that proviso to Sub-section (4) of Section 145 was merely an enabling provision of law but it did not preclude the Magistrate from calling as a witness any other person that he thought proper to examine.'

13. There are numerous cases which lay down that the provisions of Section 540 of the Criminal P. C. also apply to the proceedings under Section 145. In the instant case, however, there is no such controversy. We are only concerned with the provisions of Sub-sections (4) and (9) as discussed earlier.

14. In this view, we hold that the Magistrate clearly erred in summarily rejecting the application of the petitioner for summoning the Lekhpal and directing him to file an affidavit. He was fully competent under Section 145 (9) of the Cri. P. C. to have granted that prayer if it was necessary in the ends of justice and for proper decision of the rights of the parties. In the circumstances, the reference is allowed and the recommendation made by the Sessions Judge, Lucknow, is accepted. The order of the Magistrate dated 7th June, 1966 is quashed and he is directed to decide the application of the petitioner for summoning the Lekhpal on the merits.


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