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Harcharan Singh Vs. State of Punjab and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petn. No. 3764 of 1978
Reported inAIR1984P& H382
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 30, 31, 32 and 151 - Order 26, Rules 5, 6, 12 and 18; Constitution of India - Article 226 and 227; Punjab Co-operative Societies Act, 1961 - Sections 83
AppellantHarcharan Singh
RespondentState of Punjab and ors.
.....under article 227 of the constitution. - on his failure to do so, he was ordered to be confined to civil imprisonment. and this is precisely what the assistant registrar has done......of minihala jai singh large size co-operative society ltd. (hereafter referred to as the society). santa singh was its secretary. it appears that the affairs of the society were in a mess. the assistant registrar, co-operative societies (respondent 2), in person (along with?) respondent 3 proceeded to village manihala jai singh on 20th march, 1978 requiring santa singh secretary to produce the account-books before him. on his failure to do so, he was ordered to be confined to civil imprisonment. the said santa singh filed civil writ no. 1712 of 1978 in this court. as an interim measure, he was ordered b be released from custody. but the petition was ultimately dismissed in limine on 2-5-1978. the assistant registrar also issued a notice an 30-3-1978, annexure p. 1, under section 31 of.....

1. The petitioner Harcharan Singh was the President of Minihala Jai Singh Large Size Co-operative Society Ltd. (hereafter referred to as the Society). Santa Singh was its Secretary. It appears that the affairs of the Society were in a mess. The Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Societies (Respondent 2), in person (along with?) respondent 3 proceeded to village Manihala Jai Singh on 20th March, 1978 requiring Santa Singh Secretary to produce the account-books before him. On his failure to do so, he was ordered to be confined to civil imprisonment. The said Santa Singh filed Civil Writ No. 1712 of 1978 in this Court. As an interim measure, he was ordered b be released from custody. But the petition was ultimately dismissed in limine on 2-5-1978. The Assistant Registrar also issued a notice an 30-3-1978, Annexure P. 1, under Section 31 of the Civil P. C., 1908 to the petitioner Harcharan Singh, intimating therein that when he went on tour, the Society did not produce the books of account before him and for the purpose the petitioner was required to put in appearance before him on 11-4-1978. Thereafter, when the petitioner put in appearance accompanied by Santa Singh and another before the Assistant Registrar on the adjourned date of 7-6-1978, the impugned order, Annexure P. 2, was passed whereby the Assistant Registrar took the view that both Harcharan Singh and Santa Singh did not want to produce the records of the Society and had evasively been blaiming each other to be in possession of the records. He thus passed the following order in translated form as supplied by the petitioner's counsel:--

'Mr. Harcharan Singh s/o Shri Bhagar Singh is hereby fined Rs. 300/- for failing to produce the record. Mr. Santa Singh s/o Ujagar Singh is directed to give a security of Rs. 59.000/- and to produce books of the society which are with him on next date of hearing. In this way, Shri Harcharan Singh s/o Bhagat Singh who is an influential person is directed to furnish a Security for Rs. 1,00,000/- and he is directed to be present on the next date of hearing and produce the books. Shri Harcharan Singh and Santa Singh are unable to furnish a security for their appearance and produce the record. They are deliberately obstructing the inspection of the society. Therefore, I order the confinement of Harcharan Singh and Santa Singh exercising the powers under Sections 151, 30 and 32 of the Civil P. C., in Civil Jail Amritsar. The record of the society is a document which records the transactions among the members of the society. Without record, no action can be taken. The next date of hearing is fixed as 3-7-1978. Shri Harcharan Singh has refused to sign.'

2. The petitioner submitted surety for personal appearance and challenged the jurisdiction of the Assistant Registrar in demanding surety for producing books of account. The Assistant Registrar taking aid of the decision in Santa Singh's ease (supra), because in his case also a similar demand had been made, took the order to be legal and within the ambit of Ss. 32 and 151. Civil P. C. That order is Annexure P. 3. The petitioner filed an appeal before the Deputy Registrar vide grounds, Annexure P. 4, but the same was dismissed on the view that the order was not appealable vide order, Annexure P. 8 Challenging the aforesaid orders, the petitioner has approached this Court under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.

3. Reply has been filed by respondent No. 3 in which he has justified the steps taken as a Civil Court. It has been claimed by him that since similar steps taken by him in Santa Singh's case (supra) had been left uninterfered with by this Court, the impugned order in the present one too should be left uninterfered.

4. Undisputably, the Registrar, which includes the Assistant Registrar, has under Section 83 of the Punjab Co-operative Societies Act, 1961, the powers of a Civil Court, and even so any person entitled to audit, inspect or hold an inquiry for matters enumerated therein. Amongst others, summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and requiring the discovery and production of any document are matters regarding which the power of the Civil Court ere exercisable by the Registrar. Under Section 30, Civil P. C., the Civil Court is empowered to issue summonses to persons whose attendance is required either to give evidence or to produce documents or such other objects as indicated therein. Under Section 32, Civil P. C., the Court can impose penalty for default. To further that object, the Court may compel the attendance of any person, to whom summonses have been issued under Section 30 and for that purpose may (a) issue a warrant for his arrest; (b) attach and sell his property; (c) impose a fine upon him not exceeding five hundred rupees; (d) order him to furnish security for his appearance and in default commit him to the civil prison. Under O. XVI, R. 5, Civil P. C., the time and place of attendance is to be specified in the summons for the attendance of a person to give evidence or to produce a document. Under R. 6 thereof, any person may be summoned to produce a document, without being summoned to give evidence and that person may cause such document to be produced in place of personally attending to produce the same. That is sufficient compliance with the rule. Under R. 12, the Court has power to impose fine, if a witness fails to appear. In the same strain is R. 18 covering a different situation. All these provisions go to show that the Civil Court has power to compel the attendance of any person and to secure his appearance thereafter. No specific provision has been brought to my notice from which it can be gathered that compulsion can be exercised against a person to produce documents. Such power, however, cannot be said to be absent with the Court. Section 151 Civil P. C., is the reservoir of that power whereunder inherent powers can be exercised by the Court to make such orders as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court. Obviously, in order to exercise inherent powers, facts and circumstances of each case would have to be seen by the Court if it comes to the view that a person purposely, contumaciously and maliciously was withholding documents required to be produced by it. I see no reason why the Civil Court cannot in that situation to further the object of Sections 30 and 32, Civil P. C., exercise the inherent powers under S. 151 of the said Code. And this is precisely what the Assistant Registrar has done. After recording the finding that the record was with the President, for according to the Audit Report conducted on 15-5-1974 for the year 1972-73, the petitioner had given the receipt for the record, the further finding could rightly be recorded by the Assistant Registrar that both Santa Singh and the petitioner deliberately did not want to produce the records of the Society. I see no error in it.

5. From what has been said above, I do not find this to be a case in which directions of any kind be issued in favour of the petitioner in proceedings under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution. What was done in Santa Singh's case (supra) by a one word order by the Division Bench has only been elaborated. The petitioner may, if he is so advised, take other steps and remedies known to law but he is not entitled to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court by his conduct and attitude. Thus, this petition fails and is hereby dismissed. Since there is no opposition, there would be no order as to costs.

6. Petition dismissed.

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