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Sankar Narayan Naik Vs. State of Orissa - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtOrissa High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 349 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1967Ori203
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 115 - Order 26, Rule 4
AppellantSankar Narayan Naik
RespondentState of Orissa
Appellant AdvocateR.N. Sinha and ;S.N. Sinha, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateStanding Counsel
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....municipality, he shifted to the suit site and constructed a canteen the collector of balasore filed written statement challenging the aforesaid averments in the plaint. the substantive part of his finding may be quoted- issuing of a commission is purely a discretionary matter with the court and in such a case the court should see that the application has been made in good faith and not for the purpose of delaying......service of the government who cannot, in the opinion of the court, attend without detriment to the public service.' in order to grant exemption to the collector, the trial court must record a finding that the collector cannot, in his opinion attend the court without detriment to the public service. giving evidence in court in support of the case of the government is a public service of great importance. there were no materials on record before the learned munsif to hold that the attendance of the collector in court would be detrimental to public service. to arrive at such a conclusion, the statement of the collector that he was busv in election and drought matters would not be sufficient. he must place necessary materials before the court to convince the latter that be could not get time.....
Judgment:
ORDER

G.K. Misra, J.

1. Petitioner is the plaintiff. He filed Title Suit No. 44 of 1966 in the court of the Munsif, Balasore, against the State of Orissa for a declaration that he did not encroach upon the disputed land and the order of eviction passed by the Tahsildar is not ex* ecutable against him. He also prayed for permanent injunction. His case was that he with one Gurbachan Singh had a canteen on the roadside land of Orissa Trunk Road opposite to the Civil Court building In 1962. there was a proposal for construction of a Bus Stand Plaintiff was asked to vacate the site on which the old canteen stood and with the verbal permission of Sri K.C. Singh Deo. who was then the Collector as well as the Chairman of the Balasore Municipality, he shifted to the suit site and constructed a canteen The Collector of Balasore filed written statement challenging the aforesaid averments in the plaint. Plaintiff summoned Sri K.C. Singh Deo, Collector of Balasore, to be examined as a witness on his behalf on 2-11-66. An application was filed on behalf of the Collector to exempt his personal appearance in Court and to permit him to be examined on commission. The learned Munsif allowed the application of the Collector. Plaintiff has filed the revision against that order.

2. Two questions arise for consideration in this revision, namely, (i) Was the Munsif justified in allowing the Collector to be examined on commission? and (ii) Should the High Court interfere with the discretion of the trial court

3. The application on behalf of the Collector was to the effect that he was the executive head of the Government offices in the district of Balasore and had to attend to manv emergency matters, such as, general election and drought The Collector in his application did not say on affidavit that he was so busy that he could not spare any time for being examined as a witness in Court. Where the State of Orissa itself is the defendant, it is the paramount duty of the Collector to examine himself on behalf of the defendant and pledge his solemn testimony in Court that the averment of the plaintiff that he got his verbal permission was false Deposing in Court in support of Government's stand is duty of great public importance Tn the absence of the evidence of the Collector that he did not give verbal permission, a Court of fact might accept the plaintiffs' version that a verbal permission had been granted.

4. The learned Standing Counsel placed reliance on Order 26 Rule 4(1)(c). C. P. C which runs thus-

'4 (1) Any Court may in any suit issue a commission for the examination of-

(a)

(b)

(c) any person in the service of the Government who cannot, in the opinion of the Court, attend without detriment to the public service.'

In order to grant exemption to the Collector, the trial court must record a finding that the Collector cannot, in his opinion attend the court without detriment to the public service. Giving evidence in court in support of the case of the Government is a public service of great importance. There were no materials on record before the learned Munsif to hold that the attendance of the Collector in court would be detrimental to public service. To arrive at such a conclusion, the statement of the Collector that he was busv in election and drought matters would not be sufficient. He must place necessary materials before the Court to convince the latter that be could not get time to give evidence in court by making arrangements with his subordinates for attending to matters relating to election and drought.

He must further show that he had absolutely no breathing time and it was almost impossible for him to spare any time for about an hour to appear in court. The learned Munsif had not attempted to record a finding in accordance with Order 26, Rule 4(1)(c). His conclusion is based on pure surmises and not on any material. The substantive part of his finding may be quoted-

''Issuing of a commission is purely a discretionary matter with the court and in such a case the court should see that the application has been made in good faith and not for the purpose of delaying. It is with a view to avoid dislocation of public service that Order 26 Rule 4, C. P. C. vests such a discretion in the court. Moreover the court will not regard the case of the defendant with the same strictness as the case of the plaintiff who has chosen his own forum. In these circumstances I feel that as the Collector, Balasore is an Executive Head of a District, he cannot attend the court without detriment to the public service.'

The enire discussion of the learned Munsif consists of four sentences. The first three sentences deal with his own view of law and not with any discussion of the materials on record on the basis of which the conclusion was to be reached. Thus, according to the learned Munsif, the Collector was to be exempted from appearing in court and would be examined on commission, merely because he was the executive head of the district and must necessarily be busy in public duties so as not to be available for giving evidence in court. This approach begs the question. If the law intended that an executive head of a district is to be exempted from appearing in court on the presumption that it would result in detriment to public service, provision would have been made in the Civil Procedure Code corresponding to many other provisions.

For instance, under Section 132 C. P. C., certain women have been exempted from personal appearance and similarly Section 133 C, P. C., exempts many persons In each case the court must examine all the facts and circumstances and come to the conclusion whether the witness cannot attend court without detriment to pub-lice service. No foundation was made in the application for exemption from personal appearance. All that was stated was in a general manner which would not be sufficient to come to a conclusion that Sri Singh Deo, the Collector, could not attend court without detriment to public service. The order passed by the learned Munsif is wholly misconceived and such an order cannot be supported.

5. Under Section 116, C. P. C. this court can interfere with the order on the ground that the jurisdiction was exercised illegally. The correct law was not kept in view, and the necessary facts were not discussed to see whether provisions of law were fulfilled.

6. One significant principle must be borne in mind in deciding a question of this nature. Ordinarily witnesses are to be examined in court. The reason is obvious. The trial court must assess the truth or otherwise of the Versions of the witnesses by taking into consideration the demeanour and the conduct of such witnesses while deposing in court. The court is deprived of this opportunity when they are examined on commission. This is the reason why examination on commission would not be allowed unless a case is strictly made out as provided for under Order 26 Rule 4.

Furthermore there is a judicial atmosphere inside the court itself which creates a sense of awe and sanctity. A psychological background prevails in the mind of the witness that perjury would not escape with impunity. Generally junior lawyers are appointed as commissioners to examine witnesses. The discipline maintained in court is sometimes not observed before the commission. In the circumstances, an application for examination on commission is not to be liberally treated unless it strictly comes within the purview of Order 20 Rule 4.

7. For the aforesaid reasons, the order of the learned Munsif it set aside and the revision is allowed with costs. Hearing fee of Rs. 60.

8. It is represented to the by the learnedadvocates for the parties that Sri Singh Deo isstill continuing as the Collector of Balasore.Let the records of the case be sent back atonce. The learned Munsif would fix up adate to examine Sri Singh Deo without delayas a witness in Court.


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