1. This revision comes before us on a reference made by one of us (Pandey J.) for resolving the difference of opinion which has been expressed in two Division Bench decisions of this Court on the questions of relevancy and admissibility of certain documents.
2. The material facts, shortly stated, are these:
The applicants, who occupy two ground floor rooms of the non-applicants' house No. 131 of Imli Bazar, Indore, in return for a monthly rent of Rs. 20 besides electricity charges, filed a suit under Section 9(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Accommodation Control Act, 1955, for fixation of the reasonable annual rent. The non-applicants resisted the claim made in that suit. Relying upon certified copies of the relevant entries in the Assessment Note Book (Ex P-12-A) and the Assessment List Register (Ex. P-13) and the oral evidence of the Assessment Officer, R.S. Date P.W. 3, the Rent Controlling Authority held that, in 1940-41, the rent of the accommodation was Rs. 6/- only and fixed Rs. 10.70 as the reasonable monthly rent. The non-applicants appealed against that order which was set aside by the Third Additional District Judge Indore, for the following reasons:
(i) The entry in the Assessment Note Book relating to house No. 131 of Imli Bazar was only a report containing the proposal on the basis of which the final assessment was subsequently made by the competent authority. Proof of that entry by the oral evidence of R.S. Date P.W. 3 did not augment its probative value
(ii) The copy of the relevant entry in the Assessment List Register, Ex. P-13, could not be regarded as legal evidence of the rent 'as shown in the Municipal Assessment Register' because it did not mention the name of the authority who made it and the seal, if any, affixed thereto.
(iii) The evidence of Hukumchand P.W. 1 did not establish that he occupied the accommodation in 1940-41 or paid therefor Rs. 6/-or Rs. 6/8/- as monthly rent.
(iv) There was thus no evidence to show that the rent paid by the applicants was, in comparison with the reasonable annual rent, excessive
Being aggrieved the applicants moved this Court for relief under Article 227 of the Constitution. They were, however, allowed to convert the petition into an application for revision under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The revision came up for hearing on 14 August 1963. It was noticed that there was a divergence of opinion on the questions of relevancy of the entries in the Assessment Note Book and the admissibility of what purported to be certified copies of entries in the Assessment List Register and this reference was then made
3. In Lala Nandlal v. Smt. Sushilabai, Misc. Petn. No. 76 of 1959 D/- 18-1-1961 (MP) a Division Bench of this Court stated as follows:
'The only question therefore is whether Ex. P-2 so-called certified copy of the assessment list register is legal evidence that in 1941 the assessment fixed by the appropriate authority of the Municipality was this amount shown in it. As it stands it is not Shri Kulkarni has only argued that the plaintiff did that he was expected to do and had even brought the 'Original' of the assessment list register before the rent controlling authority. He had, in addition, actually examined the officer who at that time wrote 'the assessment note book' which was the basis of the assessment. The argument is, in my opinion, fallacious Whenever a new assessment is made, the appropriate officer of the local authority goes out, collects material and makes a report that the assessment may be so much. This was done in Ex. P-1 which was, no doubt, prepared by the proper officer and has been proved. Certainly, this is to be taken into account hut the assessment properly so called does not automatically follow this report. This is only a proposal en the part of the local authority to the authority or tribunal finally fixing the assessment, that it, usually an assessment committee that looks into this report on the one hand, hears the assessee on the other and then makes its order. So, Ex. P-1 as such is not at all relevant to the present issue. What is relevant is the order by the appropriate authority and the decision recorded in a register maintained by the local authority which showed the particulars of the property, the estimated rent and the assessment fixed after hearing the parties. Like all registers maintained by any public authority, it has to be compiled or written by a responsible servant whose name has to be noted at the beginning or the end, very often, at both places. It is also to be signed by the authority who is ultimately responsible for the correctness of the register, it would be the President or any other Chief Executive Authority of the Municipality. It is invariably marked (very often on each page) with the seal of the Municipality, this being usually in charge of the Chief Executive Officer and not allowed to be placed on any document without his sanction. When a copy is obtained, it is the duty of the person preparing it and, of course, the interest of the person obtaining it, to see that at the bottom are noted the names of the person preparing the register, of the person under whose authority it is made and mentioning the seal, if any. If the so-called original does not contain any of these, it is really useless, not being a public document prepared according to law. In this case, the so called certified copy has, as a fact, none of these particulars which guarantee that the register is a public document prepared and maintained in course of official business. The record-keeper who is examined as a witness, has not said a word about any of these matters. The appellate authority has said nothing more or nothing less than what is obvious, namely, that the document cannot be looked into. Since the applicant's case was passed solely upon the document, it was inevitable that the order of the rent controller should have been set aside.' On the other hand, the same Division Bench took a contrary view in Lakshmi Niwas v. Hotalmal, Misc. Petn. No. 14 of 1961 D/-14-2-1961 (MP) and stated:
'The principal question raised in this petition is that the Appellate Authority had acted without jurisdiction in taking into consideration documents Exts. P-1 and P-2.
In my opinion, this contention is totally untenable. In order to ascertain the rental value on 1-1-1941 the tenant secured the production of the assessment note book Ex. P-1. He also examined the Assessing Officer who had made the actual assessment during the period from 23-2-1940 to 80-9-1941. He also produced a certified copy of the assessment list register of the year 1941, Ex. P-2, to establish that the reasonable annual rent of the premises in question was Rs. 10/- P.M. in assessment register on 1-1-1941. 'Reasonable annual rent', as defined in the Madhya Pradesh Accommodation Control Act, means the rent of that accommodation as shown in the Municipal Assessment Register or as was realised or could be realised on 1-1 1941. etc. It is clear that the evidence regarding the Municipal Assessment Register of the year 1941 and the actual realisation or realisability of the rent of the premises in question on 1-1-1941 are the materials on the basis of which the reasonable annual rent has to be determined. In the present case the actual realisation of the rent at Rs. 10/- P.M. on 1-1-1941 is sought to be established by the evidence of the Assessment Officer Mr. Nigojkar and the entry in the notebook prepared by him which he could refer for refreshing his memory. The assessment list register Ex. P-2 indicated the said rent for the premises in question to be Rs. 10/-P.M. on 1-1-1941.'
4. So far as the entries in the Assessment Note Book are concerned, we are of opinion that they are not relevant for the purpose of determining either the rent as shown in the Municipal Assessment Register or as actually realised on 1 January 1941. Admittedly, the Assessment Note Book, which contains merely the proposals of the Assessment Officer, is not the Municipal Assessment Register and the entries thereto made cannot be regarded as disclosing 'the rent as shown in the Municipal Assessment Register'. Indeed, as pointed out by Newaskar J. himself in Hemraj v. Jagannath, 1963 Madh BLR 6, the evidentiary value of the entries made in the Assessment Note Book was doubtful and their admissibility was questionable because it was not shown that they were prepared under any provision of law. About the further question whether those entries could be regarded as evidence of rent actually paid for the accommodation, it is sufficient to point out that R.S. Date P.W. 3 stated in his evidence that he mentioned in the Assessment Note Book what was his own estimate of the rent
5. In regard to the certified copy of the Assessment List Register Ex P-13, it is not disputed that it is a copy of the relevant entry in the register prescribed under the Old Indore Municipal Act which has been duly certified to be a true copy. It was, however, rejected as valueless on the authority of Lala Nandlal's case Misc. Petn. No. 76 of 1959 D/- 18-1-1961 (MP) (supra) because if did not appear therefrom-
(i) that the name of the public servant, who prepared the register, was mentioned either at the beginning or at the end of the register:
(ii) that it was signed by the authority who was ultimately responsible for its correctness: and
(iii) that it bore on every page thereof a special seal indicative of its authentic character. However desirable it may be that such particulars should be there in every register, like the Assessment List Register, which is a public document prepared and maintained in the course of official business, it is plain enough that a register prepared under any enactment, which does not specially require those particulars, cannot be rejected only because those particulars are wanting, ft has not been shown to us with reference to the relevant enactment and the rules made thereunder that such particulars had been prescribed for the Assessment List Register. That being so, the copy Ex. P-18, which has been duly certified to be a true copy of the relevant entry in the register within the meaning of Section 76 of the Evidence Act, cannot be rejected as inadmissible or valueless,
6. In the result, we are of the view that, so far as entries in the Assessment Note Book are concerned, Misc. Petn. No. 76 of 1959 D/-18-1-1961 (MP) (supra) was, and Misc. Petn. No. 14 of 1961 D/-14-2-1961 (MP) (supra) was not, correctly decided. In regard to the admissibility of entries in the Assessment List Register, we are of opinion that the view taken in Misc. Petn. No. 14 of 1961 D/-14-2-1981 (MP) (supra) is correct.
7. Since the whole case has been referred to the Full Bench, we would now take up the merits of the case. Ex. P-13 does not show that the accommodation in dispute was separately assessed to any rent There is also no evidence to show that any particular rent was, or could be realised from the accommodation on 1 January 1941. The Additional District Judge has considered the evidence of Hukumchand P.W. 1 and found that it could not be regarded as referring to the year 1941. It was urged before us that the Additional District Judge did not properly appreciate or value the evidence of Hukumchand P.W. 1. We must decline to interfere in revision with a finding of fact on the ground that the evidence on which it is based has not been properly appreciated.
8. The result is that this revision fails and is dismissed. The applicants shall bear their own costs and pay those incurred by the non-applicants. Hearing fee Rs. 100/-.