Subba Rao, J.
1. These are appeals by the Public Prosecutor against the acquittal of the accused in all the cases. The accused in all the appeals were charged under Sections 7 and 8 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act 1946 for having contravened the various orders passed by the Government. The following tabular statement shows the orders contravened by the Accused in the various cases:
Accused in C.A. No. 629 of 1947 G.O. Ms. 1026 Food dated 19th
Accused in C.A. No. 23 of 1948 Do.
Accused in C.A. No. 631 of 1947 B.P. No. 626 dated 15th May, 1946.
Accused in C.A. No. 632 of 1947. Do.
Accused in C.A. No. 663 of 1947. Do.
Accused in C.A. No. 22 of 1948. Do.
Accused in C.A. No. 633 of 1947. Clause 4 (1) of the Madras Cloth
(Dealers) Control Order, 1946
The first Court convicted all the accused but in appeal the convictions were set aside mainly on the ground that there was no proof of the orders or their due publication. The Public Prosecutor contended that the proof of the said fact was not necessary and the lower Court should have taken judicial notice of the said facts under Section 57(1) of the Evidence Act. The learned Counsel for the accused argued that that section of the Evidence Act has no application to the facts to be proved in this case and in any view the lower Court had rightly, in the exercise of its discretion, refused to take judicial notice of the facts without the production of the necessary documents.
2. The question to be decided in this case turns upon the construction of Section 57 of the Evidence Act. The relevant provisions of Section 57 read as follows:
The Court shall take judicial notice of the following facts:
(1) All Indian Laws....In all these cases and also on all matters of public history, literature, science or art, the Court may resort for its aid to appropriate books or documents of reference.
If the Court is called upon by any person to take judicial notice of any fact, it may refuse to do so unless and until such person produces any such book or document as it may consider necessary to enable it to do so.
The scheme of the Evidence Act is clear. Generally all the facts alleged have to to be proved in the manner provided by the Act but there are three exceptions; facts admitted, facts presumed and facts of which the Court should take judicial notice need not be so proved. Section 57 enumerates the facts of which the Court should take judicial notice. Under Section 57(1) the Court should take judicial notice of all Indian Laws.
3. 'Indian Laws' is defined by the General Clauses Act under Section 3(27-a). It includes any law, ordinance, order, bye-law, rule or regulation passed or made at any time by any competent Legislature, authority or person in British India. The question for consideration is whether the orders contravened by the accused are orders within the meaning of this definition. If so, Section 57(1) of the Evidence Act would apply. Under Section 3(1) of Act XXIV of 1946, the Central Government so far as it appears to it to be necessary or expedient for maintaining or increasing supplies of any essential commodity, or for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices, may by notified order provide for regulating or prohibiting the production, supply and distribution thereof, and trade and commerce therein. Under Section 4 of the same Act, the Central Government may by notified order direct that the power to make orders under Section 3 shall be exercisable by such officer or authority subordinate to the Central Government or such Provincial Government or such officer or authority subordinate to a Provincial Government as may be specified in the direction. Section 7(1) prescribes the penalties for contravention of the said orders.
4. The aforesaid orders in contravention whereof the accused acted in all the cases were issued in strict compliance with the provisions of this Act by the Government or by authority or persons duly authorised by the Government and they have also been duly notified in the manner provided by the Act. They are clearly orders made by a competent authority or person in British India within the meaning of Section 3(27-a) of the General Clauses Act and therefore they are part of Indian Law. If the said orders come under the definition of the Indian Laws, the provisions of Section 57 are attracted and the Court should take judicial notice of the same.
5. But the question still remains whether this is a fit case for interference in these appeals. Though a Court should take judicial notice of the facts mentioned in Section 57, it could only take such notice if unimpeachable books or documents are put before it or are otherwise accessible for its reference. Under the last paragraph of the section the Court is given the discretion to refuse to take judicial notice of any fact unless such person calling upon the Court to take judicial notice of such fact produces any such book or document as it may be necessary to enable it to do so. In this case no such book or document was placed before the lower Court for its reference to enable it to satisfy itself that such order or notification was in existence. In its discretion the lower Court refused to take judicial notice as not then the orders nor the documents showing the publication of such orders were placed before it. It is therefore impossible to say that the discretion exercised by the lower Court is either perverse or illegal.
6. In the result all the appeals are dismissed.