1. As to karnams in settled districts, Collectors might, subject to certain restrictions, require their attendance by notice under Regulation XXIX of 1802, Sections 12 to 16. Those sections, however, were declared by Regulation II of 1806 not to apply to districts in which the revenue was not permanently fixed. In such districts, karnams of villages were declared to be under the immediate authority of the Collectors and their subordinate officers, who were to have full power to require their attendance when and where their services were required.
2. Even in settled districts, Section 13 of Regulation XXIX of 1802 was 'not to be construed to preclude Collectors, or other public officers, from demanding from karnams the information required for the due administration of the revenues of such lands as might escheat to Government or remain khas after attachment for arrears of revenue. '
3. The Madras Act III of 1869 is 'an Act to empower Revenue officers to summon persons to attend at their kachahris for the settlement of matters connected with revenue administration,' and the preamble recites that 'Whereas it is found that the Revenue administration of the country is retarded, because Revenue officers...are not made competent, by express provision of law, to issue summonses for the attendance of persons, or the production of documents in certain cases in which it is their duty to hold investigations; it is hereby enacted as follows. '
4. Then, by the first section of the Act, Collectors and their subordinate officers are empowered 'to summon all persons resident within the district, whose evidence may appear to them to be necessary for the investigation of any matter in which they are authorized to hold an inquiry, and also to require the production of any document relevant to the matter under inquiry, which may be in the possession or under the control of such person. '
5. Karnams, like other persons, are liable to be summoned under this section, though in most cases it may be thought preferable to send them a notice under the regulations already referred to. And intentional omission to attend in obedience to such notice or summons would appear to be equally punishable under Section 174 of the Penal Code.
6. A Revenue officer is authorized to issue a summons under Act III of 1869 only for the investigation of any matter in which he is authorized to hold an inquiry. He would not be justified in summoning a person to come and assist in the general duties of the head office: and it has been held 5 M.H.C.R. 28 that the potail of a village could not be summoned under the Act to assemble the villagers, and himself to attend a sale for arrears of revenue. But, having regard to the intention of the Act, as explained by its preamble, it may be admitted that it should have a liberal construction; and that a summons may be issued under it for the purpose of any inquiry, however general, which the officer is empowered to make for purposes of administration. The explanation by a karnam of his daul or other accounts or statements might be such a purpose.
7. The cases were then referred back to the Division Bench for disposal and in each case the Court (TURNER, C.J.) delivered the following
8. In reference to the recent Pull Bench ruling, the Court sees no reason to disturb the conviction.