Bishambhar Dayal, C.J.
1. This is a petition by Gyanchand against whom an election petition has been filed and during the pendency of the election petition the records of the sales tax department were summoned by the election petitioner for the purpose of proving that the petitioner was a partner in the firm 'Nandram Shrawankumar'. An objection was filed before the Tribunal that the documents of the sales tax department could not be summoned in evidence under Section 49 of the M. P. General Sales Tax Act. Sub-section (1) and Sub-section (3)(a) of Section 49 are as follows:
49. Disclosure of information by public servant.-(1) All particulars contained in any statement made, return furnished or accounts or documents produced in accordance with this Act, or in evidence recorded under this Act other than evidence given before a criminal court shall, save as provided in Sub-section (3), be kept confidential, and notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872), no court shall, save as aforesaid, be entitled to require any servant of the State Government, to produce before it, any such statement, return, account, document or recorded evidence or any part thereof, or to give evidence before it in respect thereof.
(3) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to the disclosure- (a) of any such particulars in respect of any such statement, return, accounts, documents, evidence, affidavit or deposition for the purpose of any investigation or prosecution under this Act or the Indian Penal Code, 1860, or under any other enactment for the time being in force.
The Tribunal has rejected the objection and has ordered the production of those documents so that they be taken in evidence. Against that order, the present petition has been filed.
2. Learned counsel appearing for the sales tax department has also supported the petitioner and has contended that the documents cannot be produced as the production is prohibited by Section 49 of the Act.
3. Learned counsel appearing for respondent No. 2, however, contended that under Clause (a) of Sub-section (3) of Section 49, this prohibition is withdrawn so far as investigation of any matter 'under any other enactment ' is concerned. On the basis of these two phrases used in that clause, namely, 'any investigation' and 'under any other enactment', he wants to argue that the word ''investigation' is wide enough to include any enquiry under any other Act and this being an enquiry under the Municipalities Act, the prohibition is not effective in this matter. We are unable to agree with this contention. The word 'investigation' is used in juxtaposition with the word 'prosecution' under the Indian Penal Code and the words 'under any other enactment' have also been used in the sense of enactments like the Indian Penal Code. If both these phrases in the context are read to indicate a criminal prosecution, the exception under Clause (a) will not cover an enquiry in the election petition. To our mind, this exception under Clause (a) cannot be read so widely as contended for by learned counsel for respondent No. 2. There would have been no meaning in prohibiting all courts from taking into evidence any of the documents filed under the Sales Tax Act if the exception had been so wide as to cover all possible investigations. Reading the whole provision together, we are satisfied that Sub-section (3), Clause (a), applies only to criminal investigations and prosecutions for offences.
4. The writ petition is, therefore, allowed. We direct respondent No. 1 not to take the documents of the sales tax department into evidence. Parties will bear their own costs. The amount of security deposit shall be refunded to the petitioner.