1. We are invited in this Rule to set aside an order which purports to have been made under Order XVI, Rule 20 of the Civil Procedure Code of 1908. That rule is in these terms: 'Where any party to a suit present in Court refuses, without lawful excuse, when required by the Court, to give the evidence or to produce any document then and there in his possession or power, the Court may pronounce judgment against him or make such order in relation to the suit as it thinks fit.' The petitioner was the plaintiff in a suit for recovery of mesne profits. There had been a previous suit between the parties for possession and mesne profits. A certified copy of the judgment in that suit was in the possession of the plaintiff who was present in Court. The Munsif expressed a desire to see that judgment in order to ascertain the scope of the previous suit and the order made therein. The plaintiff produced the judgment which was perused by the Munsif. The Munsif then called upon the plaintiff to file the document; but for some unexplained reason, the plaintiff declined to do so. The Court thereupon proceeded to make an order for dismissal of the suit under Order XVI, Rule 20 of the Code. An appeal against such an order is allowed under Order XLIII, Rule 1 (h) of the Code. An appeal was preferred, but was dismissed by the District Judge. In our opinion the trial Court was not competent to make an order under Order XVI, Rule 20, That rule authorises the Court to pronounce judgment against a person who without lawful excuse declines to produce a document then and there in his possession or power; if the document is produced, the requirement of the law is fulfilled. The plaintiff in this case did produce the document but he declined to exhibit it as evidence in the case. This did not entitle the Court to make an order against the plaintiff under Rule 20 of Order XVI.
2. The result is, that this Rule is made absolute, the orders of the Courts below set aside and the case remitted to the Court of first instance to be tried in accordance with law.