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Bhori Lal Vs. Additional Rent Controller, Delhi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Miscellaneous (Main) Nos. 95 and 172 of 1981
Judge
Reported inAIR1983Delhi418; 1983(5)DRJ340; 1983RLR498
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Order 18, Rule 5; Constitution of India - Article 227
AppellantBhori Lal
RespondentAdditional Rent Controller, Delhi
Advocates: Arun Kumar,; L.M. Sanghvi,; A.K. Singla and;
Cases ReferredBhori Lal v. Kishori Lal Jain
Excerpt:
evidence act - court question--the court questions are usually not framed in such a way that one party is painted as a liar or as a dishonest man--the question should be in neutral form to find out the truth. civil procedure code - order 18 rule 5, 4 & 8--recording of evidence--practice of recording evidence of two or more witnesses simultaneously is contrary to the provisions of the code and as such is illegal and must stop forthwith. so also it is the duty of presiding officer to stop supply of uncertified copies of deposition or orders by the staff. constitution of india - article 227--powers of superintendence question of forgeries and mal practices in the rent control court.; high court will exercised its power of superintendence where there has been an abuse of the process of.....s.b. wad, j.(1) these two petitions arise out of the allegations of procuring an ex parte eviction order by landlord bhori lal against his tenant kishori lal by alleged forgeries and other malpractices in the court of iii additional rent controller, delhi. a few days back i had an occasion to examine the mal-practices in one of the government departments. that was a case of nihal singh v. union of india, (civil writ petition no. 187 of 1977). the mirror is now turned in words on the judicial institution. in a vibrant democracy all institutions must face a mirror, particularly, the judicial institution. it is because the citizens trust this institution for its objective, impartial and independent decision-making. the courts of rent controller, a sub-judge and a magistrate are courts of.....
Judgment:

S.B. Wad, J.

(1) These two petitions arise out of the allegations of procuring an ex parte eviction order by landlord Bhori Lal against his tenant Kishori Lal by alleged forgeries and other malpractices in the court of Iii Additional Rent Controller, Delhi. A few days back I had an occasion to examine the mal-practices in one of the Government Departments. That was a case of Nihal Singh v. Union of India, (Civil Writ Petition No. 187 of 1977). The mirror is now turned in words on the judicial institution. In a vibrant democracy all institutions must face a mirror, particularly, the judicial institution. It is because the citizens trust this institution for its objective, impartial and independent decision-making. The Courts of Rent Controller, a Sub-Judge and a Magistrate are courts of first instance. A citizen is required to rush to these courts more frequently than the superior courts to seek justice. These are the first courts of facts. From the point of view of administration of justice, their decisions are of highest importance, because the questions of facts settled at that stage, cannot be upset easily in the superior courts. The alleged tampering of Court records in this case had its echoes in Press and Parliament.

(2) C.M. (M) No. 95 of 1981 challenges the order passed by the Iii Addl. Rent Controller (Kuldip Singh) on 7-4-19.81. This order was passed when the evidence was being recorded before him on the tenant's application under O. Ix, Rule 13, Civil Procedure Code for setting aside/review of the ex-parte eviction order passed in favor of the landlord. After the evidence of the tenant was recorded the landlord moved an application urging that in view of the 'admission' of the tenant denying his signatures on the affidavit and vakalatnama accompanying application under O. Ix, Rule 13, Civil Procedure Code further evidence was unnecessary and Police help should be made available to the landlord for enforcing the decree of eviction passed in his favor. The learned Addl. Rent Controller held that the manner in which the statement of tenant has gone on to such a lengthy examination does not show that he had come to the court to admit a decree against him. The Rent Controller, thereforee directed the continuation of the evidence in proceedings on the application under O. Ix, Rule 13 and rejected the landlord's application. Notice to show cause was issued to the tenant by me on 21-5-1981. In reply to the show cause the tenant contended that the petition under Article 227 was not maintainable as there was no error of law and the order of the Rent Controller was within his jurisdiction. The tenant has also referred to the alleged forgeries and malpractices adopted by Bhori Lal. landlord all through the proceedings in the Rent Controller's court. When the landlord's petition was pending Kishore Lal tenant filed a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution being C.M. (M) No. 172 of 1981.

(3) In the said petition the tenant gave a detailed account of the alleged forgeries and malpractices adopted by Bhori Lal right from the stage of the summons in the eviction proceedings to recording of evidence of the tenant in his application under O. IX. Rule 13. He has also attempted to show how Shri Kailash Chand Gupta, the then Reader of the Court of H.P. Sharma, Additional Rent Controller was a party to the malpractices of Bhori Lal, and how H.P. Sharma, the Additional Rent Controller had failed in his duty. The tenant has also called in question the administrative report of Shri P.L. Singla, Additional District and Sessions Judge, who without giving an opportunity to the tenant held that the allegations of forgery against the landlord were wrong and that the tenant was a dishonest man. It is averred in the petition that it 'raises a fundamental and for reaching question of integrity and credibility of the stark operational realities of our system of administration of justice and calls for exercise of the Hon'ble Court's power of superintendence on the facts and circumstances mentioned in the preparatory paragraph and more fully thereafter.' Along with Bhori Lal, the landlord, Shri P.L. Singla, Additional District and Sessions Judge, H.P. Sharma, the then Addl. Rent Controller, Delhi, and Shri Kailash Chand Gupta, the then Reader, were joined as party respondents. RespondentsP.L.Singla, H.P. Sharma and Kailash Chand Gupta did not contest the petition.

(4) Apart from the allegations of forgeries and malpractices with the help of officials of the Court, some other problems are raised in the petitions. A practice has developed in the lower courts whereby evidence of two or more witnesses is simultaneously recorded by the Judge, by the Reader and by the Ahlmad contrary to provisions of Civil Procedure Code Unofficial copies of depositions are secured by making illegal payments to the Readers. The Presiding Officers do not effectively control the Process Servers and the other. officials working under them. There is also an allegation that the Additional District Judge did not conduct the administrative enquiry fairly and recorded perverse findings. His findings are being used by the landlord against the tenant. There is no doubt that these allegations raise grave questions of the credibility of the system of administration of justice in the lower courts. In C.M. (M) No. 172 of 1981 the petitioner was represented by Dr. L.M. Singhvi, Senior Advocate, who is also the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association. I also sought the assistance of the President of Delhi Bar Association and Delhi High Court Bar Association as they are more familiar .with the. working of the lower courts. The three Presidents of the respective Associations have brought to my notice certain bad practices in the administration of justice presently adopted in the said courts, their reasons and remedies to cure them.

(5) I will first take up two legal submissions regarding the exercise of discretion by this Court and hearing these petitions on merits. Mr. Arun Kumar, appearing for Bhori Lal, the landlord argued that the Iii Additional Rent Controller before whom the tenant's application under Order Ix, Rule 13 is being heard, is competent to decide all questions raised in the tenant's petition in this Court. The Rent Controller is recording the evidence of the parties and will come to the judicial conclusion as to whether the deposition of the tenant is forged or genuine. The said Rent Controller has not accepted the administrative findings of P.L. Singla, the Additional District Judge and is himself deciding the matter. Mr. Arun Kumar even suggested that for the purposes of the hearing before the Rent Controller his client was ready to proceed on the basis of the version of tenant's deposition as claimed by the tenant and a copy of which he has produced. Bhori Lal, landlord has also made a statement to that effect before me and I have recorded the same.

(6) Mr. Arun Kumar then suggested that if the Rent Controller would come to a conclusion that the tenant's deposition was a forged deposition, he could record the statement afresh and even direct criminal prosecution, if necessary. His submission is that it is more appropriate for the Rent, Controller to decide these matters than the High Court. This submission is opposed by the counsel for the tenant He submits that if there was no administrative proceeding in the present matter and the present Rent Controller (to whom the matter is now transferred) had started the proceeding on the application under Order Ix, Rule 13 the position would have been different. But the findings of the Additional Distt. Judge that the tenant had committed the forgeries and that he was a dishonest man, has changed the whole picture. The Addl. Distt. Judge's findings were arrived at after recording the statement of the Reader Kailash Chand Gupta (who has recorded the alleged 13-page deposition of the tenant in his own hand) and HP. Sharma, the the n Rent Controller. It would be highly embarrassing for the Rent Controller to examine another Rent Controller.

(7) The principle that justice should not only be done bur. must be seem to have been done would be put to serve strain, in the circumstances. Similar would be case regarding findings of the Additional Distt. Judge. He further submits that in the present proceedings Landlord Bhori Lal, the Reader, the Rent Controller and the Addl Distt. Judge are parties and had full opportunity to defend themselves. Bhori Lal has fully availed of the opportunity while the others have preferred not to defend themselves. The counsel then submits that the forged documents are being used by Bhori Lal in this Court also. The reports of the Additional Distt. Judge are also relied upon in support of his case and form annexures of the writ petition. Apart from this, the case raises question, of the credibility of judicial administration which is brought into disrepute by prevalence of certain malpractice. The counsel submits that it would be more appropriate to decide the question of forgeries in this Court and to take effective action against the culprits rather than leaving it to the Rent Controller.

(8) I have given very anxious consideration to these submissions and I am of the opinion that the question of forgeries and the alleged malpractices should be left to the Additional Rent Controller. It is true that even in this court Bhori Lal has tried to use the alleged forged documents and this Court can proceed to enquire into them. The Appellate and Revisional Courts can on their own take such course of action (Emperor v. Syed Khan Air 1925 Rang 321 and Shanker Lal. Emperor : AIR1937All681 . But while exercising the jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution it may not be proper (if not illegal) to record evidence for his purpose. The alleged facts of securing ex parte eviction order and execution order, Inspection application by Adeshwar Dayal, Advocate, notice-reply by P.P. Tiwari, Advocate, circumstances in which the deposition of the tenant was recorded by the' Reader and authenticity of the said documents, are all questions of fact, hotly con tested. A full length trial with examination of witnesses and cross-examination etc. will alone establish truth in the matter. The parties should have full opportunity to do so, which may not be possible in a proceeding under Article 227. If the forgeries were already established in the trial court, the matter would have been different. While deciding the application for restoration, the Additional Rent Controller will have to go into the question after recording the evidence It is true that the initial alleged forgery and its administrative enquiry are so interconnected that the Addl Rent Controller may have some difficulties. For example, he will have to examine Reader Gupta and H.P. Sharma, the then Additional Rent Controller.

(9) But although, the matter has become little complicated because of the administrative enquiry, it is not beyond solution. I propose to bifurcate these two aspects of the matter. The validity of the administrative enquiry and the other aspects of administration of justice would be dealt with in this Court. The Rent Controller will examine the question of alleged forgeries and other attended matters In petition No. 95 of 1981 the petitioner Bhori Lal had challenged the order of the Additional Rent Controller, Kuldip Singh and wanted a decision on merits With that end all the evidence was produced in the form of annexures. But as the arguments proceeded the counsel for the petitioner could not show any legal infirmity or illegality in the said order. In fact he himself suggested that the matter may go back to the Additional Rent Controller for full and complete trial. I find this a proper course to follow. Petition No. 95 of 1981 has no merit and is, thereforee, dismied

(10) But Mr. Arun Kumar further submits that I cannot, or in any case should not. in exercise of my jurisdiction under Art. 227 of the Constitution, entertain the tenant's petition in this Court, namely, C.M. (Main) 172 of 1981. According to him the tenant's petition is directed against the administrative reports of P.L.Singla, Additional District Judge. It is submitted that the power of superintendence is not available to interfere with administrative orders or reports. This submission is mis-conceived. The relevant portion of Art. 227 reads as follows :

'227.(I) Every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts and tribunal throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction. (2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision the High Court may :- (a) call for returns from such courts ; (b) make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts ; and (c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers of any such courts.'

In Waryam Singh v. Amar Nath, : [1954]1SCR565 it was argued before the Supreme Court that the Judicial Commissioner of Himachal Pradesh exercise ing powers under Art. 227 of the Constitution can have only the administrative superintendence and not the judicial superintendence over the Rent Controller- Tracing the history of the Article, and on proper construction of the language of the said Article, the constitution Bench held that Article 227 empowers High Courts to exercise judicial as well as administrative superintendence. Section 224 of the Government of India Act of 1935 had made a departure from the earlier enactments and had restricted the power of superintendence to administrative matters only. But Art. 227 of the Constitution has restored the original position and the power of superintendence is now enforceable in administrative as well as judicial matters. Thus, so far as administrative matters were concerned there was never any doubt as to whether the power of superintendence can be used in such matters. In Mohd. Abdul Latif v. Secretary, Bar Association AIR 1947 Lah 313 it was held that the High Court can interfere with the order of a District Judge under Section 36 of the Legal Practitioners' Act to declare a person a tout. The said jurisdiction of a District Judge under Section 36 is a disciplinary or administrative jurisdiction. In Jodhey v. State : AIR1952All788 a comprehensive observation has been made by Beg, J. in regard to all pervading power of the High Court under Art. 227 of the Constitution : 'On a proper interpretation of this clause it is difficult to my mind to hold that the powers of superintendence are confined only to administrative matters. There are no limits, fetters or restrictions placed on this power of superintendence in this clause and the purpose of this Article seems to be to make the High Court the custodian of all justice within the territorial limits of its jurisdiction and to arm it with a weapon that could be wielded for the purpose of seeing that justice is meted out fairly and properly by the bodies mentioned therein. To fulfill this function it seems to me that the power of superintendence of the High Court over judicial matters is as necessary as over administrative matters. As a matter of fact, the judicial function of a Court is not less important than its administrative function. In fact, it is more necessary to rectify lapses in judicial matters than defects in administrative matters. A judicial error might affect the rights, liberty and freedom of the subject whereas an administrative error might not do so. To my mind superintendence over judicial function is a necessary complement of superintendence over administrative functions and it is sometimes very difficult to say where the one ends and the other begins. If the High Court is to perform this function efficiently and effectively, it must act on both sides, otherwise the very power of superintendence will be crippled and what has been achieved on the administrative side might be lost on the judicial side.'

(11) The object of Art. 227 is to make the High Court responsible for the entire administration of justice in the State and to vest in the High Court an unlimited reserve of judicial power which could be brought into play at any time, when the High Court considers it necessary to draw up on the same. Apart from matters relating to jurisdiction, the High Court may be moved to act under this Article where there has been a flagrant abuse of elementary principles of justice or manifest error of law patent on the face of the record or an outrageous miscarriage of justice which calls for remedy. So also, the High Court will exercise its powers of superintendence where there has been an abuse of the process of the Court. It is a cardinal principle of law that an act of the Court cannot be allowed to work injury on the litigant. Various decisions have established these principles.

(12) But the question as to whether the High Court (in the present petitions) can decide on the administrative reports of Mr. P.L. Singla, Addl. District Judge dated 15-10-1980 and 21-11-1980 in these judicial proceedings is no more a doubtful question. In petition No. CM(M) 95ofl981Bhori Lal, landlord has built his case on the strength of the said reports and has in fact put them as Annexures 'J' and 'K', with his petition. The said two reports of Singla, Additional District Judge are the documents cited in support as an evidence by Bhori Lal himself. Naturally, the said reports will have to be considered for the effective disposal of Bhori Lal's petition. As a matter of fact Bhori Lal's petition is filed first. Only thereafter, tenant Kishori Lal filed petition No. CM(M) 172 of 1981 in which inter alia, wherein the legal validity of the said two reports is called in question. Considering the law as regards the powers of High Courts under Art. 227 of the Constitution and considering the allegations affecting the entire fabric of the system of administration of justice in the lower courts, I am of the opinion that the High Court is the appropriate forum for the decision on the tenants' petitions. If at all there is a case where the High Court should exercise its power of superintendence, this is the one.

(13) In order to appreciate the circumstances in which the Additional Distt. Judge was directed to conduct the administrative enquiry the facts stated in the two petitions may now be noted. Bhori Lal is the owner of property No. 8551, Plot No. 77, Model Basti, New Delhi, Kishori Lal was inducted as a tenant in August, 1967 in respect of premises consisting of a room, a verandah, kitchen, bathroom and latrine on the first floor and a terrace on the second floor of the said property. The monthly rent was Rs 50.00 . Some time after 1973 the rent was increased to Rs. 100.00 . It is the allegation of the tenant that Bhori Lal was not issuing the rent receipts. It is also an allegation that due to the landlord's harassment the rent was increased to Rs. 10.).00 . On 19-7-1976 Bhori Lal filed an Eviction Petition under Section 14(1)(e) read with Section 25(b) of the Delhi Rent Control Act against Kishori Lal on the ground of personal bona fide requirement. Bhori Lal contends that although Kishori Lal was served he did not apply for leave to defend. thereforee, on 13-9-1976 the Additional Rent Controller Shri K.S. Gupta passed an ex-parte order of eviction in favor of Bhori Lal. Bhori Lal further contends that on 15-9-1976 Shri Adishwar Dial, Advocate inspected the Court record on behalf of the tenant Kishori Lal and the tenant thus got the knowledge of the eviction order passed against him immediately.

(14) Bhori Lal further contends that another Advocate of Kishori Lal, Shri P.P. Tewari replied to the notice of Bhori Lal on 20-9-1976 wherein the fact of the eviction order dated 13-9-1976 was noted. The original reply is filed in this Court, Adishwar Dial, Advocate, has filed an affidavit in this court and has stated that he did not inspect the file on behalf of the tenant on 15-9-1976 and the purported application for inspection on that date was not signed by him. Similarly. Advocate Tewari has filed an affidavit in this court stating that he did not send the alleged reply on behalf of the tenant on 20-9-1976 to Bhori Lal. As regards the service of the summons in the eviction petition, the contention of the tenant is that the summons was never served on him. He contends that eviction Case No. 434/76 filed by the landlord was registered by the Rent Controller on 28-2-1976. The Rent Controller ordered the summons returnable on 13-9-1976 by normal process. He also ordered summons to be served by Registered A/D Post as required by the Act.

(15) The tenant, however, contends that although there was no 'dusty' order, Bhori Lal took 'dusty' summons. Summons was marked to Process Server Jagdish Chand. The office noting, however, shows that the summons were allegedly served by some other Bailiff whose signature is illegible. No summons was served on the tenant by Registered A/D. This was discovered by the tenant when his Advocate took inspection of the file of eviction proceedings on July 16, 1979. The inspection was taken because on 7-7-1979 Bhori Lal came to the premises with warrants of possession for evicting him. Till that time he had no knowledge of the eviction order passed by the Rent Controller. On inspection of the execution file (Ex. 41/79 now E-17/8 it was also discovered that notice of the execution application was also got served by the landlord by forging the tenant's signatures The said notice was also taken for 'dusty' service although the Execution Court had not passed any such order. The tenant then submits that the alleged application of inspection by A.dvocate Adishwar Dial and the reply of the notice by Advocate P.P. Tewari were also forged by Bhori Lal, in order to create an evidence of the knowledge of the eviction order, on the part of the tenant.

(16) The tenant then submits that the landlord started harassing him by locking the bathroom and by cutting water and electricity. Fearing danger to his life lie made a report to local police, a copy of which is annexed as Annexure 'A' with the tenant's counter-affidavit. Through the intervention of respectable persons of the locality and of the Police authorities, a compromise was arrived at before the Police on 15th October, 1976. The landlord Bhori Lal promised to stop the harassment and the dispute was resolved by the said compromise. The said compromise is signed by Bhori Lal and Kishori Lal and by a Police Official. This is annexed as a Annexure 'B' with the counter-affidavit. The tenant submits that although before the date of compromise the landlord had allegedly secured the eviction order against him, -he did not disclose it to the tenant or to the Police Authorities, before whom he signed the compromise on 15-10-1976. The execution proceedings were file on 20-7-1979, that is, almost three years after the eviction order was passed in favor of Bhori Lal.

(17) That after inspection of the said two files tenant Kishori Lal filed an application under O. Ix, Rule 13, Civil Procedure Code for setting aside the ex parte eviction order/review. The said application was registered as Misc. Case No. 704/79. This application was listed for evidence before H.P. Sharma, Additional Rent Controller. The matter was adjourned from time to time. On 25-7-1980 evidence of tenant Kishori Lal AW-1 was recorded. On that date his other witness V. K.Sakhuja hand-writing expert was examined as AW2. The next date for evidence was 12th Sept. 1980. On 12th Sept. 198' the landlord moved an application stating that in view of the admission of the tenant, (namely, that the signatures on application under O. Ix, Rule 13 the supporting affidavit and vakalatnama dated 17-7-1979 were not his), no further evidence need be recorded in proceedings under O. Ix, Rule 13 and that the court should dismiss the said application of the tenant. The application was listed by the Rent Controller for hearing on 25-9-1980. The tenant alleges that on 18-9-1980 he made an application for inspection of the original eviction file.

(18) The tenant submits that on seeing the file on inspection it was found that deposition of the tenant AW-1, was not on the file and it was stated that the same had been sent to Copying Agency. He further submits that his counsel made an entry on the application for inspection of the absence of the deposition of A.W.1 on the file. On 25-9-1980 the tenant filed his reply to the application of the landlord dated 12-9-1980 and also filed a separate application. In the said application he stated that when his statement was recorded by the Reader he was surrounded by number of lawyers of the landlord on all sides and being an old man of 74 was trapped and confused resulting into denial of a genuine signature on the application under O. Ix, Rule 13, supporting affidavit and Vakalatnama. He further alleged that the case involves forgery of his signatures on various documents. He also pointed out another instance where the landlord Bhori Lal had allegedly forged the signatures of an Advocate on an alleged compromise. On 26-9-1980 the counsel of the tenant Shri Ram Kishan Dewan brought to the notice of the Rent Controller that on the evening of 25-9-1980 there was a theft of the copy of the deposition of the tenant (A.W. 1) and the notes of the Advocate regarding inspection, from his leather brief case placed on the table in the Civil Bar Library.

(19) The tenant had another copy of his deposition which he handed over to his counsel. It is claimed that this copy was obtained by the tenant from the Reader of the Court on the date of the deposition unofficially, according to the practice followed in the trial court. It is the submission of the tenant that with the permission of the Rent Controller his counsel then took the inspection of the file in the court itself. It was then discovered that the deposition of the tenant, was not there and was replaced by another alleged deposition. All these events took place in the presence of the Rent Controller. The Rent Controller thereafter recorded the statement of the Reader Kailash Chand Gupta. Kailash Chand Gupta made a statement that a 13 page hand written deposition (examination in chief and cross-examination) of the tenant, which was on the file on that date, was not in his hand-writing. The Rent Controller thereafter sealed the file and with his report referred the matter to the District Judge for further enquiry.

(20) The relevant portion of the report of H.P. Sharma.Addl. Rent Controller to the District Judge is as follows :

'LEARNED couusel for J. D./applicant appeared before me and made an application stating therein that certain documents pertaining to this case, and kept by him at his seat box have been stolen. He wanted an adjournment to get the same reconstructed and also to get the matter investigated. The JD's counsel Shri R.K. Dewan has now come before me with an oral complaint that during inspection of this file today he found that the entire statement of A.W. I has been changed. After this, I perused this file and found that the statement of A. W.I does not bear my initials rather these initials clearly appear to have been forged by some other person. The Reader Shri K.C. Gupta states that the statement of A.W. I was recorded in his hand and that the statement of this witness/A.W. I, now appearing in this file is not in his hand and he cannot say in whose hand now this statement has been recorded.'

On the receipt of this communication the District Judge directed P.L. Singla, Addl. District Judge to have the administrative enquiry in the matter. P.L. Singla recorded the statements of Kailash Chand Gupta, Reader and H.P. Sharma, Rent Controller on 4-10-1980. Their statements are as under :

'KAILASH Chand Gupta, Reader : 'Statement of Shri Kishori Lal Jain, son of Tara Chand Jain, respondent/applicant as A.W.I in Misc. Application No. 704/79 in Bhori Lal v. Kishori Lal Jain 25-7-1980 running into 13 pages Ex. C-l is in my handwriting. I recorded the statement under the instructions from Shri H.P. Sharma, Addl. Rent Controller. This is the statement that was given by Shri Kishori Lal Jain in Court and it was recorded by me. This statement has not been changed at all and it is in its original position and condition. Nobody changed the statement of Kishori Lal Jain, A.W. I. It is wrong to say that the statement Ex. C I is not in my handwriting or that it is replaced'.

Statement of H.P. Sharma, Additional Rent Controller :

'I have seen statement Ex. C-l of Shri Kishori Lal Jain, son of Shri Tarachand Jain respondent/applicant D - 25-7-1980 running into 13 pages. The initials on it purporting to be that of mine are not mine. It is quite possible that somebody overwrote on my initials with a view to give it an appearance of forged signatures. The perusal of the statement shows that this was the statement made by Kishori Lal Jain before me which was recorded by Shri Kailash Chand Gupta; Reader of my court. This file was inspected by Shri R.K. Dewan (Ram Kishan Dewan) Advocate on 26-9-1980'.

The Additional District Judge thereafter issued summons to Bhori -Lal, landlord to appear before him on 13-10-1980 by urgent summons. No summons was issued to Kishori Lal, tenant. On 13-10-1980, Bhori Lal produced the certified copy of the deposition of Kishori Lal. According to him he had applied for it on 15-9-1980 and received the certified copy next day, that is, on 16-9-1980. The Additional District Judge found that the signatures of Shri H.P. Sharma should be examined by Central Forensic Science Laboratory, which he noted on the order-sheet of 13-10-1980, but this course was not pursued.

(21) On 3rd October, 1980 a report appeared in Times of India, Delhi, regarding the said tampering of judicial record. A question (No. 465) was tabled by an. M.P. fixed for 18-11-1980 in Lok Sabha asking for the details of the alleged tampering and whether any enquiry was conducted. On October, 15, i980 the Additional District Judge submitted his report. After recording the facts the Additional District Judge made the following findings :

'I compared the certified copy (produced by Bhori Lal) with the original statement and it tallies with the original statement verbatim in all respects. Nobody from either side had inspected this file on 15-9-1980, it was for the first time, on 18-9-1980 that Shri R.K. Dewan inspected this file. After that, Shri Dewan had inspected this file on 26-9-1980, If the statement of A.W. I Shri KishoriLal Jain had been changed before 18 9-1980 Shri R K. Dewan would have made a complaint in writing immediately thereafter. Before that, the certified copy had been obtained and, thereforee, it cannot be said that the statement of A.W. I had been changed. I, thereforee, submit that the statement of Kishori Lal Jain, A.W. I has not been changed'.

Thereafter the District Judge directed the Additional District Judge to record the statements of the counsel for the parties. thereforee, on 15-1 1-1980 the Addl. District Judge recorded the statements of D.K. Garg, Advocate and Subhash Chand Jain, Advocate, who appeared for Bhori Lal. Advocate Garg stated that he had not cross-examined Kishori Lal on 25-7-1980, and that it was done by Subhash Chand Jain, Advocate. Advocate Jain said that Ex. C-l was the statement made by Kishori Lal and that it had not been changed. He also stated that H.P. Sharma signed on each leaf of the statement. The Addl. District Judge then examined Bhori Lal and his statement was recorded. It may be noted that even at the second stage Kishori Lal was not summoned and was not examined. Thereafter the statement of R.K. Dewan, Advocate for Kishori Lal was recorded. He stated that on 26 9-1980 when the file was examined in the court he looked up the crossexamination of Kishori Lal because in Bhori Lal's application for discontinuance of evidence and dismissing the application under O. Ix, R. 13 the reference was to cross-examinatoin. The alleged admission by Kishori Lal was in the cross-examination. On 10-11-1980, during the arguments, while checking up the examination-in-chief also, he discovered that some changes were made in the examination-in-chief also.

(22) The modus was to delete 'not' at appropriate places and to add the word 'not' at other appropriate places. He further stated that if there was an admission by Kishori Lal that he had not signed the application under Order Ix, Rule 13 (and the supporting affidavit and Vakalatnama) there was no need of examining V.K. Sakhuja, Handwriting Expert as AW-2 on the some date. He further stated that if Kishori Lal had admitted his signature on the summons in the eviction proceedings and execution proceedings in his examination-in chief, there was no necessity of a cross-examination running over 12 pages. The Additional District Judge then put Court Questions to Advocate Dewan. The tenor of the answers shows that the questions were asked with a definite theory in the mind and the suggestions were made as if it was a cross-examination. A sentence from Dewan's reply would be sufficient as an example, Dewan stated :

'I cannot say if Kishori Lal Jain is a dishonest person and is a liar and can make any statement at any time suitable to him.' After recording the statements the Additional District Judge made a second report on 21-11-1980.'

The relevant portion of the second report may now be noted :

'THEN,Shri Dewan stated that Kishori Lal Jain had told him that he had obtained uncertified type-written copy of his own statement from the court Reader on payment of illegal gratification and that copy had been type-written probably from the type writer of the court of Shri H.P Sharma. This shows that, in fact, no such copy had been obtained by Shri Kishori Lal Jain and the report regarding the loss of the brief case including the statement of Shri Kishori Lal Jain, Aw I and of Shri V.K. Sakhuja A W 2 is all by way of Peshbandi and only to delay the proceedings and the same has been made dishonestly. It appears that Shri Kishori Lal Jain himself with ulterior motive in collusion with some court officials overwrote the signatures of Shri H.P. Sharma on the statement of Shri Kishori Lal Jain. I myself minutely observed the signatures purporting to be those of Shri H.P. Sharma on each leaf of the statement of Shri Kishori Lal Jain, A W l and found that the signatures had been overwritten. Shri Sharma does not have uniform signatures, but he signs altogether in different style I have seen order sheet as well as the other statements. No two signatures of Shri Sharma tally with each other. Even, Shri Ram Kishan Dewan admitted that the signatures of Shri H.P. Sharma on the order sheet dated 8-7-80, 25-7-80 and 12-9-80 do not tally with each other and were totally different from each other. Shri Dewan also admitted that Shri Kishori Lal Jain even denied his genuine signatures on some documents. This shows that Shri Kishori Lal Jain is a dishonest person and makes any statement at any time which is suitable and convenient to him. This particular allegation has been made by him only to delay his eviction from the tenanted premises. Under the circumstances, I again submit the report that the statement of Shri Kishori Lal Jain, Aw I Ex. C-l has not been changed and it is the original statement. However, it is for the court to give judicial finding on this finding'.

This report was accepted by the District Judge. The judicial file was thereafter transferred to the court of Shri Kuldip Singh, Iii Additional Rent Controller. The learned Rent Controller was not inclined to per se accept the report of P.L. Singla, Add). District Judge and, thereforee, directed the application under Order Ix Rule 13 made by the tenant for evidence. As stated earlier, the impugned order was passed on 7th April, 1981 by Kuldip Singh, Rent Controller rejecting Bhori Lal's application praying for dismissal of tenant's application under Order Ix, Rule 13.

(23) Let me now deal with the two reports of the Additional District Judge against which the tenant has filed the petition. Before making the first report the Additional District Judge recorded the statements of Reader K.C. Gupta and Addl. Rent Controller H.P. Sharma. He also summoned Bhori Lal directing him to produce the certified copy of the deposition. He also recorded the statement of the Court Ahlmad. At the second stage he examined Advocates Garg and Jain for the landlord and Dewan for the tenant. He also recorded the statement of Bhori Lal. Out of the said persons examined the Court questions are put only to the Advocate Dewan. No questions were put as Court questions to Reader Gupta or to the Rent Controller or to Bhori Lal. Kishori Lal, the tenant was not summoned at all although the enquiry was regarding his deposition and his complaint that the deposition was substituted. The disposition running over 18 pages was recorded by the Reader in his own handwriting. At one stage he categorically stated that the statement was not in his handwriting, at the second stage he positively stated that the statement was in his handwriting. It is surprising how with a long experience of judicial work, the Additional District Judge did not find it necessary to further probe the matter by putting searching questions to the Reader. So was the case with Bhori Lal.

(24) After reading the two versions of the deposition no person with a little judicial experience, would have accepted the version of such a person at its face value. After all there were allegations of the malpractices and the alleged forgeries committed by him even at the earlier stages of the proceedings. So also the Rent Controller made two different statements regarding his initials on the deposition. Apparently not much sense can be made out of the two different versions. Was it got necessary to call upon Mr. Sharma to explain as to what was the meaning of the two statements and what exactly was the truth It was expedient to put court questions to the Rent Controller which has not been done. On the contrary Advocate Dewan has been put to searching questions as if he was being cross-examined. The questions should have been in neutral form to find out the truth. The court questions are usually not framed in such a way that one party is painted as a liar or as a dishonestman. I must say with regret that the enquiry conducted by the Addl. District Judge was not a fair enquiry.

(25) In regard to Kishori Lal, the tenant, there was a total denial of the right of being heard in the said administrative enquiry. It beats one's imagination as to how the administrative enquiry was conducted without summoning the person who was the complainant. Bhori Lal, against whom the complaint was made was given not one but two opportunities to prove his version. The conclusion of the Addl District Judge regarding genuineness of the deposition of the tenant, becomes one-sided as the tenant had not been heard But what is more strange is that he has been condemned as a dishonest person and a liar in the enquiry report. The enquiry was thus conducted in disregard of the elementary principles of natural justice. It is now well settled that even in the administrative enquiries principle of natural justice must be adhered to.

(26) The order-sheet shows that the Additional District Judge had at one stage contemplated to get the assistance of Government Handwriting Expert, but this course was not followed. No reason has been recorded on the file to show as to why this course was given up.

(27) But apart from these lacunae, on merits, the conclusions in the two reports are perverse. The material evidence of Kishori Lal tenant and the Handwriting Expert is excluded. There is no effort made to make keen and intensive assessment of the evidence of Bhori Lal, K..C. Gupta and H.P. Sharma. The inferences drawn are such that no reasonable man would ever draw.

(28) The Additional District Judge did not make any effort to examine the two versions of Reader K..C. Gupta. This question was most crucial because the deposition was in his handwriting. Whether Gupta was speaking truth at the first stage or at the second stage ought to have been probed. A definite finding should have been recorded on the two versions. How could the Enquiry Officer draw conclusions regarding the genuineness of deposition without such a finding? Same is the case regarding the evidence of H.P. Sliarma, Rent Controller. In his original report Sharma had not stated that the statement of Kishori Lal was made before him, but in the enquiry he has made that statement. The very fact that he had made a report to the District Judge and had sealed the files shows that he bad accepted the statement of the Reader that the deposition was not in his handwriting.

(29) If the statement was recorded 'before' the Rent Controller, there was no reason for him to make any report to the District Judge. He could have dismissed the complaint with an order that the statement was recorded before him and the same was genuine. Sharma had stated that the statement did not bear his initials and there was forgery of his initials. This was at the first stage where he was satisfied that the statement on record was not a genuine statement. However, at the second stage he made a categorical statement that the statement was genuine statement as recorded 'before' him. If that was so, how could he still maintain 'the initials on it purporting to be that of mine are not mine. It is quite possible that somebody overwrote on my initials with a view to give it an appearance of forged signatures.' This is a garbled Explanationn which does not make any meaning. However the Add1. District Judge has accepted the versions without any scrutiny.

(30) Neither in his original report nor in his statement before the Enquiry Officer had Sharma stated that he has no firm signature/initials and he signs differently at different times. However, Additional District Judge in his report finds that Sharma was in habit of making signatures differently at different times, by examination of the file. If he had formed that impression, why no question was put to H.P. Sharma when he was being examined It is a matter of common knowledge that an Officer like Rent Controller is required to make hundred of signatures and develops a definite style of signature/initials. He must also behaving bank account or a similar account. No attempt has been made to examine the correctness of the version by the Addl. District Judge. In this context the conclusion drawn by the Addl. District Judge: 'It appears that Shri Kishori Lal Jain himself with ulterior motive in collusion with some court officials overwrote the signatures of Shri H.P. Sharma on the statement of Shri Kishori Lal Jain' appears to be most perverse.

(31) There was no evidence to support this conclusion at all. No witness had made any such claim and K.ishori Lal himself was not examined by the Enquiry Officer- The Additional District Judge's conclusion that Mr. Kishori Lal had not obtained any copy of his deposition is also very strange. Although it is unfortunate that the typed copies of the depositions are obtained unofficially by payment of illegal gratification to the Reader, in Subordinate Courts an Additional District Judge, working in the same court, ought to know this fact better. There is no doubt that this bad practice prevails in the trial court. The Presidents of the High Court and District Court Bar Association have subscribed to the existence of this practice in the trial court. The Additional District Judge's inference that the story of the loss of the brief case is false is also based on his assumption that the tenant had not secured a typewritten copy of his deposition. Advocate Dewan was examined by the Enquiry Officer. No such suggestion regarding falsity of the report of loss of brief case was made to Diwan when court questions were being put to him. Why should an Advocate make such a statement before the Court has not been enquired into by the Additional District Judge

(32) Apart from this, there were other circumstances which are not considered by the Additional District Judge at all. If a tenant voluntarily suffers an ex parte decree, why will he deny his signatures on the summons and other documents? If he is dishonst, why in the examination in-chief itself he will admit the signatures on such document If he is dishonest, will he voluntarily deny his signatures on the application for restoration review of the ex parte eviction order What is the normal course of human actions of ordinary reasonable persons The learned Rent Controller who is now hearing the matter posed a very simple question in the impugned order. Does the manner in which the evidence is recorded show that the judgment-debtor has come to the court to admit a decree against him This was a very natural question which the Additional District Judge should have asked himself.

(33) In the light of these infirmities I cannot accept the reports of P.L. Singla, Additional District Judge. The reports cannot be relied upon as being of any value on the question of genuineness of the tenant's deposition. So also the said reports holding Kishori Lal tenant guilty of dishonesty and forgery are wholly unsustainable in law and are rejected.

(34) The District Judiciary in Delhi is required to perform its functions and duties under a greater strain than its counter-parts elsewhere. It is a recent experience that even ordinary criminal cases acquire great public importance. They sometimes involve important constitutional issues. The Presiding Officers are expected not only to have good knowledge of criminal law but of constitutional law and other areas of public law. Simple civil cases like injunctions and evictions, acquired larger implications because of the authorities and personalities involved. There are greater chances of temptation on the part of the political and financial heavyweights to influence administration of justice. An impression is likely to be created that a helpful Presiding Officer or Administrative Officer would get undue reward and a person not so helpful is likely to be neglected, if not punished. There are growing complaints about the Presiding Officers and Advocates practicing before them. An unfortunate impression prevails that this Court is not taking sufficient steps to control this situation. The same is equally true about the Bar Council, the disciplinary body of the Peers in relation to the Advocates. Such examples, as we find in the present case, if not checked will tarnish the good name of the entire subordinate judiciary. A strong action is, thereforee, necessary so as to save and encourage honest, efficient and conscientious officers, both Judicial and Administrative. The leaders of the Bar and indeed every member of the Bar should render positive co-operation in this endeavor.

(35) With serious concern for the problems mentioned above the Presidents of three Bar Associations have rendered valuable assistance in identifying some problems and in suggesting administrative steps to overcome them. Their suggestions are as follows :

(1)Recording of evidence of number of witnesses simultaneously at two or three different places without any control and superintendence of the Presiding Officer, is illegal and must stop forthwith. (2) The present illegal practice of securing unofficially the copies of the depositions from the Readers of the Court should be stopped by the Presiding Officers immediately. (3) An authenticated copy of the deposition under the signatures of the Presiding Officer should only be supplied to the litigants. (4) The District Judge should ensure more strict and day to day inspections. The pro forma of the inspections carried out by the Addl. District Judges at present shows that the inspection is superficial. (5) One Additional District Judge should be made in charge of supervision of the work of Process Serving Agency. A litigant lot of oppression at the hands of the Process Servers and the Bailifis. The process is abused either for securing ex parte orders or for not serving the notices for inordinately long time. The execution of the court orders and decrees is also a major source of litigants' agony. The Additional District Judge should visit the places and carry out surprise checks. Unless these administrative aspects of administration of justice are effectively controlled, the judicial process before the court, would become fruitless and meaningless rituals. (6) An Additional District Judge should be assigned to have special inspections of the Copying Section and of giving certified copies of the judgments and orders. He should visit the Section so as to ensure that there is no delay in giving the certified copies or no undue haste by accepting illegal gratification. (7) Similarly, it should be the duty specifically assigned to an Addl. District Judge to look to the judicial and administrative process of granting bails and sureties in criminal cases. (8) The High Court inspections of the subordinate courts should be more elaborate and in greater details. There should be more surprise inspections than at present. (9) The system of marking units for the disposal by the Presiding Officers should be more realistic considering the pressure of the work and the type of jurisdiction handled by a Presiding Officer.

(36) These suggestions are very valuable. It is for this Court to take them up in discharge of its administrative function. I have, however, no hesitation in declaring that the practice of recording evidence of two or more witnesses simultaneously is contrary to O. xviii, Rr. 4, 5 and 8, Civil Procedure Code . The practice is illegal and must stop, forthwith. So also it is the duty of the Presiding Officers to stop supply of uncertified copies of deposition or orders by the Readers or other court staff.

(37) No infirmity is shown in the order of the Additional Rent Controller (KuldipSingh) dated 7-4-1981. C.M. (Main) No 95 of 1981 is dismissed. C.M. (M) No. 172/1981 is allowed. The petition succeeds. On the facts of the case, however, I do not make any order as to costs


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