Pandrang Row, J.
1. This is a petition by the Secretary 'of State for India in Council represented by the Collector of Tanjore to revise an order of the District Munsiff of Kumbakonam dated the 20th January, 1938, on I.A. No. 755 of 1937 in O.S. No. 142 of 1936 on his file, in which the Secretary of State for India in Council represented by the Collector of Tanjore is the defendant. The plaintiff in the suit applied under Order 11, Rule 14, Civil Procedure Code, for an order directing the respondent, that is to say, the defendant in the suit, to produce certain documents, namely, the paimash register of a certain village of fasli 1238, that is, of the year 1828 as well as a letter of 1867 from the Collector of Tanjore to the Inam Commissioner. The learned District Munsiff appears to have thought that because the Collector represented the Secretary of State for India in Council, the defendant in the suit, the Collector could be treated as being himself a party to the suit. The order proceeds on the assumption that the Collector's custody or possession of the documents in question is in his capacity as agent of the Secretary of State for India in Council for the purpose of defending the suit in question. I am of opinion that this assumption is not well-founded. So far as the paimash registers are concerned, it is the Collector's duty under Regulation XXVI of 1802 to keep public registers according to the forms prescribed by the Board of Revenue and to keep such registers open at all times to the inspection of persons concerned in seeing them. His custody therefore of these public registers is for the performance of a statutory duty imposed upon him, and certainly if such public registers are produced by him in the absence of a summons simply because he happens to represent the Secretary of State for India in Council in a particular suit, the stautory duty of keeping registers open for inspection to the people concerned therein cannot be performed. I am of opinion that the Court below was not justified by the terms of Order 11, Rule 14 in requiring the Collector of Tanjore to produce these paimash registers in original on the ground that he was an agent of a party to the suit. Apart from this it is very undesirable that public documents of this importance should be required to be produced in Court without the protection granted to public documents produced in response to a summons (vide Rule 76 of the Civil Rules of Practice). It is also represented that these registers are in a very dilapidated condition and that there is the danger that they may crumble to pieces by removal from one place to another and by indiscriminate handling. Even as regards the latter 1867 it is not very clear to me that the collector of Tanjore is in possession of this letter in his capacity as the, agent of the Secretary of State for the purpose of defending this particular suit. The fact 'that the Collector acts as an agent, of; the Secretary of State for India in Council io a particular suit does hot make him an agent of the, Secretary of State for India in Council for all purposes. Nor can it be said that every document in the possession of the Collector, in, one capacity or another must be deemed to be in his possession in his capacity as agent of the Secretary of State for India in Council in a particular suit. The order of the District Munsiff is therefore set aside and this petition is allowed with costs.
2. It must be however made clear that this will not prevent that Court below from directing the issue of a summons for the production of these documents if the requirements of law are satisfied and if the Court thinks it necessary to do so.