H.R. Khanna, J.
1. The question as to whether the competent authority appointed under the Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act (No. 96 of 1956) (hereinafter referred to as the Act), constituted a Court for the purpose of Section 195 of the Cr. P. C., arises for determination in this criminal revision filed by Tirloki Nath against the order of learned Additional Sessions Judge. Delhi, affirming on revision the order of the trial Court. It has arisen in the following circumstances:--
2. House No. 345 situate at Naya Bans, Delhi, which previously vested in the Custodian of Evacuee Property, was purchased by Parshotam Das in a public auction. After obtaining possession of the house, Parshotam Das filed a suit for ejectment from the house in question against Tirloki Nath and others. Tirloki Nath, it may be stated, was residing in a portion of the house as a tenant. In the aforesaid suit a decree was awarded in favour of Parshotam Das against Tirloki Nath and others. As the house was situated in a slum area and the tenants could not be evicted therefrom without obtaining the permission of the competent authority under Section 19 of the Act, Parshotam Das moved the competent authority for grant of the requisite permission. Tirloki Nath in those proceedings pleaded that Dev Raj accused was residing in a portion of a house as Tirloki Nath's sub-tenant. This fact was denied by Parshotam Das. In support of the plea, Tirloki Nath filed certain, documents to show that Dev Raj was occupying a portion of the house in question as sub-tenant and was paying rent at the rate of Rs. 6 per mensem. The competent authority repelled the objections raised by Tirloki Nath and passed an order that execution proceedings for the ejectment of Tirloki Nath could continue. The documents filed on behalf of Tirloki Nath were found to be forged. Subsequently on matter having been reported to the notice, the matter was investigated and Tirloki Nath and Dev Raj were sent up for standing trial under Sections 465, 471 and 120B, I. P. C.
3. An application was filed on behalf of the accused before the trial Magistrate that there was a bar to his taking cognizance of the offence under Clause (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 195 of the Cr. P. C. as the complaint had not been filed by the competent authority under the Act. This application was dismissed by the trial Court and its order, as stated earlier, was affirmed on revision by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi.
4. I have heard Mr. Arora on behalf of the petitioner and Mr. Sharma on behalf of the State and am of the view that there is no merit in the revision petition. Clause (c) of Sub-section (1) and Sub-section (2) of Section 195 of the Code read as under:--
'195 (1) No Court shall take cognizance.
(2) * * ** * *(b) * * ** * *(c) of any offence described in Section 463 or punishable under Section 471, Section 475, or Section 476 of the same Code, when such offence is alleged to have been committed by a party to any proceeding in any Court in respect of a document produced or given in evidence in such proceeding, except on the complaint in writing of such Court, or of some other Court to which such Court is subordinate.
(2) In Clause (b) and (c) of Sub-section (1) the term 'Court' includes a Civil, Revenue or Criminal Court, but does not include a Registrar or Sub-Registrar under the Indian Registration Act, 1877 (III of 1877).'
Clause (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 195 reproduced above has been enacted with a view to provide a safeguard against irresponsible and reckless prosecutions by private individuals in respect of offences which relate to the administration of justice. It is, however, essential, before the above provision is invoked, to show that the offence in question was committed by a party to any proceeding in any Court in respect of a document produced or given in such proceeding. Where the offence alleged to have been committed is not by a party to any proceeding in any Court in respect of a document produced or given in evidence in such proceeding, the above provision of law would obviously be not attracted. As the documents, which are alleged to be forged in the present case were produced in proceedings under the Act before the competent authority the matter, which needs adjudication, is whether the competent authority is a Court under the above provision of law. Competent authority has been defined in Clause (c) of Section 2 of the Act as meaning such officer or authority as the Administrator may, by notification in the official gazette, appoint as the competent authority for the purpose of the Act. Section 19 of the Act deals with the scope of proceedings when a landlord applies to the competent authority for permission to execute a decree for ejectment, and reads as under:--
'19. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no person who has obtained any decree or order for the eviction of a tenant from any building in a slum area shall be entitled to execute such decree or order except with the previous permission in writing of the competent authority.
(2) Every person desiring to obtain the permission referred to in Sub-section (1) shall make an application in writing to the competent authority in such form and containing such particulars as may be prescribed.
(3) On receipt of such application the competent authority, after giving an opportunity to the tenant of being heard and after making such summary inquiry into the circumstances of the case as it thinks fit, shall by order in writing either grant such permission or refuse to grant such permission.
(4) Where the competent authority refuses to grant the permission it shall record a brief statement of the reasons for such refusal and furnish a copy thereof to the applicant.'
Perusal of Section 19 reproduced above goes to show that though the competent authority has to give an opportunity to the tenant of being heard in the matter and though it has to make an inquiry into the circumstances of the case, it is also clear that the inquiry has to be of a summary nature and to be such as is considered fit by the competent authority. This would go to show that the parties have no right to insist on producing evidence and summoning witnesses or of compelling production of the documents. It cannot, therefore, be said that the competent authority possesses all the attributes of a Court. It is no doubt true that the orders made by the competent authority are of a quasi-judicial nature, all the same the fact remains that the essential attributes of a Court are not possessed by the competent authority. The distinction between a quasi-judicial Tribunal and a Court has to be kept in view and from the mere fact that a Tribunal is entrusted with quasi-judicial powers, it would not necessarily follow that the Tribunal constituted a Court, I am fortified in this view by the dictum laid down in case Virendar Kumar Satyawadi v. State of Punjab, (S) AIR 1956 SC 153. Their Lordships in that case were dealing with the question as to whether a returning officer deciding on validity of nomination paper under Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act was a Court. The question was answered in the negative. Venkatarama Ayyar, J., who spoke for the Court, observed:
'It is unnecessary to traverse the same ground once again. It may be stated broadly that what distinguishes a Court from a quasi- judicial tribunal is that it is charged with a duty to decide disputes in a judicial manner and declare the rights of parties in a definitive judgment. To decide in a judicial manner involves that the parties are entitled as a matter of right to be heard in support of their claim and to adduce evidence in proof of it.'
'And it also imports an obligation on the part of the authority to decide the matter on a consideration of the evidence adduced and in accordance with law. When a question therefore arises as to whether an authority created by an Act is a Court as distinguished from a quasi-judicial tribunal, what has to be decided is whether having regard to the provisions of the Act it possesses all the attributes of a Court.'
It was further observed:
'Under Section 36(2), the returning officer has to examine the nomination paper and decide all objections which may be made thereto. This power is undoubtedly judicial in character. But in exercising this power, he is authorised to s come to a decision 'after such summary enquiry, if any, as he thinks necessary'. That means that the parties have no right to insist on producing evidence which they may desire to adduce in support of their case.
There is no machinery provided for summoning of witnesses, or of compelling production of documents in an enquiry under Section 36. The returning officer is entitled to act 'Suo motu' in the matter. When one compares this procedure with that prescribed for trial of election petitions by the Election Tribunal under Sections 90 and 92 of the Act, the difference between the two becomes marked. While the proceedings before the Election Tribunal approximate in all essential matters to proceedings in civil courts, the proceedings under Section 36 present a different picture.
There is no 'Lis' in which persons with opposing claims are entitled to have their rights adjudicated in a judicial manner, but an enquiry such as is usually conducted by an 'ad hoc' tribunal entrusted with a quasi-judicial power. In other words, the function of the returning official acting under Section 36 is judicial in character, but he is not to act judicially in discharging it. We are of opinion that the returning officer deciding on the validity of a nomination paper is not a Court for the purpose of Section 195 (1) (b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the result is that even as regards the charge under Section 193, the order of the Magistrate was not appealable, as the offence was not committed in or in relation to any proceeding in a Court.'
The above observations have a direct bearing on the case. I would, accordingly, hold that the competent authority under the Act is not a Court and Clause (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not constitute a bar to the taking of cognizance of the present case by the trial Magistrate. The revision, consequently, fails and is dismissed.