1. The only question that arises for decision in this Civil revision is whether or not the Court has power to summon a deponent, who has filed an affidavit in support of his application under Order XXXIX, Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code, for his cross-examination at the instance of other party.
2. NO provision in the Code of Civil Procedure has been pointed out which specifically debars a court from doing so. On the other hand, the enabling provision conferring this power on the Court contained in Rule 2 of Order XIX of the Code of Civil Procedure is most generally worded. Sub-rule (1) of this Rule 2 provides:--
'Upon any application evidence may be given by affidavit, but the Court may, at the instance of either party, order the attendance for cross-examination of the deponent.'
Learned Counsel for the revisionist relied in the trial Court as well as in this Court on the two decisions of Gujarat High Court -- Haroobhai M. Mehta v. State of Gujarat, (AIR 1967 Guj 229) and Mavji Khimji v. Manjibhai Abjibhai, (AIR 1968 Guj 198). In my opinion none of these decisions supports the proposition canvassed on behalf of the revisionist. On the other hand these decisions go against that proposition. In the case of Haroobhai M. Mehta (supra) which was a case of writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution the following material observations was made by Court at page 255 of the report:--
'There is no doubt whatsoever that this Court has power to direct any person filing an affidavit to come up for cross-examination. That power is not in dispute. In fact, the rules of this Court provide that in proper cases oral evidence may be taken. But, at the same time, it is also a fact that such a power is rarely exercised and unless the Court is convinced that in the interest of justice, such a course is necessary, the Court would not ordinarily in writ petitions enter into controversies of such types and undertake to decide them.'
In the other case of Mavji Khimji (Supra) also it has not been ruled that even in an interlocutory matter like the one under Order XXXIX. Rule 1, C. P. C. the Court has no power to summon and cross-examine the deponent if it thinks it necessary to do so in the interests of justice. All that has been said is that this power to decide an interlocutory matter under Order XXXIX, Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code on the basis of an affidavit has been specifically conferred on the court independently of Order XIX, Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code and as such that power is not necessarily subject to the proviso to Rule 1 or Sub-rule (1) to Rule 2 of Order XIX. In other words a party can as of right request the court to call the witness for cross-examination whose affidavit has been allowed to be read in evidence under the general power conferred on the court under Section 30 or under Order XIX, Rule 1 or Sub-rule (1) of Rule 2 of the said Order.
3. Ordinarily, evidence has to be given in the manner stated in Section 3 of Evidence Act which defines the expression 'Evidence', but Rule 1 of Order XIX is an exception to that section when it provides that any court may at any time for sufficient reason order that any particular fact or facts may be proved by affidavit, or that the affidavit of any witness may be read at the hearing, on such conditions as the Court thinks reasonable. This is a departure from the definition of 'Evidence' as contained in Section 3 of the Evidence Act and in making that departure a safeguard has been incorporated in the proviso to this Rule 1 which says:
'Provided that where it appears to the Court that either party bona fide desires the production of a witness for cross-examination, and that such witness can be produced, an order shall not be made authorizing the evidence of such witness to be given by affidavit.' Sub-rule (1) of Rule 2 of the same order is a further safeguard provided to the parties when evidence by affidavit is permitted by the Court instead of in the usual manner contemplated by Section 3 Evidence Act. This sub-rule provides that 'upon any application evidence may be given by affidavit, but the Court may, at the instance of either party, order the attendance for cross-examination of the deponent.'
4. From the above provisions it would be evident that where the court for sufficient reasons either of its own accord or on the application of a party permits any particular fact or facts to be proved by evidence instead of the witness being examined in court it will also take into consideration the limitations and the safeguard contained in the proviso to Rule 1 and in the latter part of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 2 of Order XIX. In other words, if a party bona fide desires the production of a witness for cross-examination no order shall be made authorising the evidence of such person to be given on affidavit. Similarly, where on the application of any party evidence has been permitted to be given on affidavit and the other party wants that the attendance of the deponent should be secured for cross-examination the court may ordinarily grant that request.
5. According to the Gujarat High Court decision in Mavji Khimji (Supra) these safeguards are not necessarily inbuilt in a proceeding relating to an interlocutory order under Order XXXIX, Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code, but even in that proceeding there is no bar to the court, to summon a witness for cross-examination if it thinks it necessary to do so in the interests of justice.
6. In the present case, the learned Civil Judge has stated that in view of conflicting affidavits filed by the parties he considered it necessary that the deponent who filed affidavit on behalf of the revisionist should be cross-examined. No illegality has been committed by that Court in doing so.
7. The revision is, therefore, without any merits which is dismissed accordingly.
8. The stay order dated 25-4-1973 is vacated.