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Mahabirji Birajman Mandir Vs. Prem NaraIn Shukla and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.F.O. No. 195 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1965All494; 1965CriLJ452
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 162 and 172; Evidence Act, 1872 - Sections 123 and 124
AppellantMahabirji Birajman Mandir
RespondentPrem NaraIn Shukla and ors.
Appellant AdvocateA.N. Varma, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateMahesh Narain Shukla, Adv.
Excerpt:
criminal - case diary - sections 162 and172 of criminal procedure code, 1898 and section 123 of evidence act, 1872 - case diary contains statement of witness and also opinion of the police officer who was investigating the case - contents of case diary to the extent of opinion of police officer are not helpful during the trial - statement of witness recorded during the case are useful during the trial - contents of case diary can be used in civil proceedings under section 172. - - to put it differently, privilege can be successfully claim-ed with regard to confidential reports or communica-tions, but not statements of witnesses recorded during the police investigation or documents like site plan prepared during the investigation......the suit for a fresh hearing. it was contended betore me that the case diary maintained by a police officer during the investigation of a crime was a confidential document with regard to which privilege could be claimed and no evidence could be allowed to come on the record. reliance was also placed upon two reported decisions to which i shall make a reference later.5. confusion has arisen on account of proper steps not being taken in adducing the necessary evidence, it shall, therefore, be necessary to make comments not only on the general question of privilege but also what can or cannot be proved and if it can be proved, in what manner 6. in jagannath rao dani v. emperor air 1935 nag 23, it was observed that the statements in the police diary were ordinarily privileged and could.....
Judgment:

D.S. Mathur, J.

1. This is an appeal by Sidh Maha-birji Birajman Mandir through Pandit Mahabir Prasad Dixit and by Mahabir Prasad Dixit himself, defendants, against the order of the lower appellate Court allowing the appeal and remanding the suit for a fresh hearing after affording the plaintiff, Prem Narain Shukla, an opportunity to produce his evidence in the case which was permitted by the trial Court under order dated 10-3-1961. It was also ordered that the defendants would be entitled to give evidence in rebuttal. This order was made subject to another direction that the trial Court will look into the question of privilege if raised in a proper manner and by a competent authority.

2. The plaintiff had instituted the present suit for demolition of the wall which the defendants had constructed by the side of the windows in the wes-tern wall of his house and thereby stopping the free flow of air and light through such windows, and also for a mandatory injunction to restrain the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff's construction of a shed to protect the rain water from reaching the room through the said windows and from interfering with the plaintiff's using the windows and ventilators. In addition, damages were claimed.

3. The plaintiff summoned the case diary of a criminal case investigated by the local police to show that the windows existed even in 1954 when the criminal offence had been so investigated. The case diary' was summoned from the Superintendent of Police and was produced before the Munsif by a clerk of the police office. The Superintendent of Police did not formally address the Court claiming privilege but the clerk was directed to claim privilege. The Investigating Sub-Inspector who had investigated the offence had also been summoned. The Munsif allowed the claim of privilege with the result that that evidence could not come on the record. The suit was eventually dismissed with costs and the plaintiff went up in appeal. The lower appellate Court was of opinion that the privilege was not claimed in a proper form, nor by the Head of the Department, and consequently, set aside the decree of the trial Court though leaving the matter open in case the privilege was claimed airesh.

4. The contesting defendants have now come up in appeal against the order of the lower appellate Court remanding the suit for a fresh hearing. It was contended betore me that the case diary maintained by a police officer during the investigation of a crime was a confidential document with regard to which privilege could be claimed and no evidence could be allowed to come on the record. Reliance was also placed upon two reported decisions to which I shall make a reference later.

5. Confusion has arisen on account of proper steps not being taken in adducing the necessary evidence, It shall, therefore, be necessary to make comments not only on the general question of privilege but also what can or cannot be proved and if it can be proved, in what manner

6. In Jagannath Rao Dani v. Emperor AIR 1935 Nag 23, it was observed that the statements in the police diary were ordinarily privileged and could not be given to outsiders except under S, 162, Criminal P. C., and that was limited to the case of an accused who was being tried for an offence under investigation at the time when the statement was made. Similarly in Emperor v. Dharam Vir, AIR 1933 Lah 498 it was observed that the subject-matter of police diaries would ordinarily be privileged under the provisions ot Section 124 of the Evidence Act and certain particulars may also be privileged under the provisions of Ss. 123 and 125 of the Evidence Act. None of these cases lay down a general rule that the case diary is privileged and its contents cannot be made use of in another case. But if the intention of Vivian Bose, A. J. C. deciding the case of AIR 1935 Nag 23 and Dalip Singh and Monroe, JJ.t deciding the other case was to lay down that in majority of cases the contents of case diary prepared during the investigation of another crime cannot be utilized, I am, with respect, in disagreement.

7. The case diary is one in which a police officer investigating a crime enters daily proceedings including statements of witnesses examined by him or his own observations on inspection of the locality. Other information received or his own opinion about witnesses is also entered therein. The case diary so prepared is confidential in the sense that a person accused of that offence cannot call for such diary nor can he peruse it during the trial. However, underSection 172 (2), Criminal P. C. a criminal Court holding the enquiry or trial can, if it considers necessary, send for such diaries and utilize them for doing justice in the case. Case diary is thus a document which cannot be made available to accused persons and on this ground should not be made available for the perusal of litigants in civil cases also. But there is no legal bar to the use oE statements recorded by the police during the investigation of the crime. In an enquiry or trial resulting from that investigation the use of such statements is restricted by Section 162, Criminal P. C. The bar imposed by Section 162 applies to that enquiry or trial but not to an enquiry or trial of other offences. Consequently, the statements of witnesses recorded by a police officer during the investigation of a crime can be used in civil litigation as their previous statement. It is a different thing what weight the courts may attach to such statements, which under Section 162. Criminal P. C. cannot be signed by the witnesses. In fact, the witness may not know what statement had been taken down by the police officer in the case diary.

8. Section 162 (1), Criminal P. C. lays down that :

'No statement made by any person to a police-officer in the course of an investigation under this Chapter shall, if reduced into writing, be signed by the person making it; nor shall any such statement or any record thereof; whether in a police diary or otherwise, or any part of such statement on record, be used for any purpose at any enquiry or trial in respect of any offence under investigation at the time-when such statement was made.'

The provisions of this section are very significant and make it clear that the bar imposed by Section 162, Criminal P. C. is for the enquiry or trial in respect ot the offence under investigation. When such statements can be used in other enquiries or trials, there can be no bar to their being used in civil suits.

9. The same can be said with regard to the observations of the Police Sub-Inspector entered in the case diary and documents, e.g. site plan, prepared during the investigation of an offence. It will be the statement on oath made during the trial which shall be substantive evidence, though the site plan prepared during the police investigation or any note made in the case diary can be used for purposes of corroboration or contradiction,

10. When an earlier statement made by a witness examined, in the case, though recorded during the police investigation, and also the site plan prepared by the Investigating Officer, are admissible in evidence for certain purposes, such documents though contained in the case diary cannot be treated as privileged documents which cannot be permitted to be brought on the record.

11. By virtue of Section 125 of the Evidence Act no Magistrate or police officer can be compelled to disclose the name of the informer and the information furnished by him. Privilege can be claimed with regard to such persons and the claims shall be allowed; but such persons shall not invariably be examined by any of the parties to a civil or criminal litigation.

12. The case diary contains not only the statements of witnesses recorded under Section 161, Criminal P. C., and the site plan or other documents prepared by the Investigating Officer, but also reports or observations of the Investigating Officer or his superiors. These reports are of a confidential nature and privilege can be claimed thereof. Further, the disclosure of the contents of such reports cannot help any of the parties to the litigation, as the report invariably contains the opinion of such officers and their opinion is inadmissible in evidence.

13. I am thus of opinion that a part of the casediary containing the confidential communications or reports are privileged but not the statements of witnesses or other allied matters contained therein.

14. The same inference can be drawn on consideration of Sections 123 and 124 ot the Evidence Act. Section 123 provides that 'no one shall be permitted to give any evidence derived from unpublished offi-cial records relating to any affairs of State, except with the permission of the officer at the head of the department concerned, who shall give or withhold such permission as he thinks fit. The term 'affairs of State' is a general one but it cannot include all that is contained in the record. Where an open enquiry is made, statement recorded during the open enquiry canaot be deemed to be confidential and, similarly, any application or complaint made by a person cannot be held to relate to the 'affairs of State'. The Courts may take a different view where the application contains a secret matter which it shall not be in the public interest to disclose.

15. Section 124 of the Evidence Act refers to official communications made in confidence. When witnesses make a statement before the police officeropenly, and not in confidence and also when the police officer inspects the locality and preparessite plan, it cannot be said that by admitting such evidence communications made in official confidence are being disclosed. In other words, Sections 123 and 124 of the Evidence Act place no restriction on the ad-mission of statements of witnesses examined during police investigation or the site plan etc. prepared by the police officer, even though they are contained in the case diary.

16. Though I cannot accept without any qualification the observation, reproduced above, madein the Lahore case but the subsequent observations correctly lay down the procedure to be followed by the court before using the case diary. These observa-vations were made with reference to a criminal case but they can usefully be utilized where any party to a civil proceeding desires the contents of the case diary to be utilized in the decision of the case. The material observations made in the Lahore case, AIR 1933 Lah 498 are as below:--

'If at any time the Court itself on inspection of the diaries considers that certain sources of inquiry are revealed by those diaries or that a certain Police Officer should disclose further to the Court the steps taken by him or if it becomes necessary to contradict the said Police Officer, the Court may use the diaries for these purposes, but until the Court has done so the defence are not entitled to inspect those diaries.'

In civil cases courts do not generally record evidence at their own initiative, and it is for the parties to lead such evidence that they desire to adduce. It is also necessary for them, to take all the steps necessary for the production of evidence and appearance of witnesses. Consequently, where a party desires to use, for purposes of corroboration or contradiction, the statement of a witness recorded by a police offi-cer during the investigation of a crime, or the site plan or any other document prepared during the police investigation, or any fact noted in the case diary, it is for him to apply to the Superintendent of Police fora copy of such statement, document or entry. If a certified copy is furnished, that copy can be filed in the case, though the summoning of the original document and in suitable cases the case diary also, may be necessary to confront the witness with the original. It is the copy, and not the original, which shall formpart of the record of the ease and shall be exhibited.

If no copy is furnished to the party the original document or the case diary cart on his request, besummoned, but the case diary shall, in no case, formpart of the record.

At the proper stage an extract of the case diary can be placed on the record and exhibited. If there exists any dispute as to the correctness of the copy furnished to the party, or the copy being complete in all material particulars, the Court can peruse the case diary to satisfy itself that the copy is correct and none of the parties are in any way prejudiced. The Court must ensure that no part of any confidential entry or report is seen by any of the parties. To put it differently, privilege can be successfully claim-ed with regard to confidential reports or communica-tions, but not statements of witnesses recorded during the police investigation or documents like site plan prepared during the investigation.

17. In the instant case, the plaintiff had not taken proper steps in the sense that he did not apply beforehand for a copy of the site plan etc. Instead, be summoned the case diary as a whole. However the procedural error is not such as to disentitle him (plaintiff) from leading evidence which he had in mind to adduce in the case. In the above circumstances, the order of remand can be maintained.

18. The F. A. F. O. is hereby dismissed, though it shall be open to the plaintiff to prove the site plan etc. prepared by the Investigating Officer in accordance with the law, and to the defendants to raise objections to the relevancy or admissibility of such evidence. Costs on parties. Stay order is vacated.


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