Singh Vs. Secretary, Association of Indian Universities & Ors  INSC 106 (21 April 1992)
Dayal (J) Yogeshwar Dayal (J) Pandian, S.R. (J) Reddy, K. Jayachandra (J)
1992 AIR 1356 1992 SCR (2) 630 1992 SCC (3) 129 JT 1992 (4) 12 1992 SCALE
Evidence Act, 1872:
20- Statement made on special oath by person - Evidentiary value of -Held an
admission of the person.
of civil procedure, 1908:
of -By special oath-Validity of:
9-Oaths Act, 1873- Repeal of -Whether debars parties from entering into any
petitioner in the special Leave petition filed a suit for declaring that the
resignation tendered by him was involuntary and a result of fraud,coercion and
threat as well as the inducement as alleged in the plaint. During the pendency
of this suit, he filed an application under Order 10 Rule 2 Read with Section
151 of the code of Civil Proce- dure for a direction that if the respondent
officers No.1 and 2 took a special oath in Gurudwara and Mandir respec- tively
to the effect that the resignation of the plaintiff was not extracted from him
under duress, fear, inducement, fraud, coercion then that part of the claim
might be dis- missed as withdrawn.
respondent Officers having accepted the challenge the Additional District Judge
appointed a local commissioner to administer the oath to the said two persons
as desired by the petitioner, and the same having been taken and the court duly
informed, the additional District Judge ordered dis- missal of that part of the
claim covered by the suit.
following day of the dismissal of the application, the 631 petitioner filed
another application with a prayer to decide the aforesaid issue on merits and
evidence and that the respondents might not be allowed to take advantage of the
blunder committed by the petitioner in his application, and for cancellation of
the court's order dismissing the claim.
application was dismissed by the Trial Judge. The Trial Court took the view
that Section 20 of the Evidence Act was applicable and that the repeal of the
Oath Act, 1873 by Section 9 of the Oaths Act, 1969 no where debarred the
parties from entering into any contract.
petitioner filed revision petition against the two orders of the Trial Court
but the same was dismissed.
special leave petition of this Court, the petitioner contended in person that
in view of the repeal of the Oaths Act, 1873 by the Oaths Act, 1969 the suit
could not be decided on the basis of special oath.
the special leave petition, this Court,
1. The oath was administered as per the petition- er's statement and there is
thus no manner of doubt that the oath taken by the two persons in pursuance of
the offer of the petitioner amounted to an admission of the respond- ent's
claim on his part within the meaning of Section 20 of the Evidence Act.[639 D]
two persons were the nominees of the plaintiff and the statement of the
nominees by virtue of Section 20 of the Evidence Act would be treated as an
admission of the parties.[639 D-E]
Trial Court was right in its view that Section 20 of the Evidence Act was
applicable in the instant case, and that the repeal of the Oaths Act, 1873 by
Section 9 of the Oaths Act, 1969 nowhere debarred the plaintiff parties from
entering into any contract. The orders of the Trial Court are therefore
unassailable and the High Court has rightly dismissed the revision
petition.[635 G-H;639 E] Hirachand Kothari (dead) by Lrs. v. State of Rajasthan
and another,  Supp. SCC 17, referred to.
J. A. Munnuswami
Naidu v. K.S.P. Thyagaraya Chettiar and another, AIR 1977 Madras 273, Vasudeva Shanbog
v. Naraina Rai, 1880 ILR 2 Madras 356, Rustam
etc. v. The Financial Commissioner, etc. 1981-83 PLR 632 759, Mrs.Florabel
Skinner and Others v.Jai Bajrang Kala Mandir Ram Lila Mandal, Hissar, AIR 1980
P & H 284 and Thakur Singh & Others v. lnder singh, AIR 1976 P & H
Nanjappa v. Pacharanda Belliappa deceased by Seethavva & Others, 1979-29
ILR (Karnataka) 2018 and Ananda Chandra Sahu (deceased by L.R.) & Others. v.
Ananta Khuntia and other, AIR 1983 Orissa 250, over-ruled.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION :Special Leave Petition (civil) No.10436 of 1991.
the Judgment and Order dated 26.4.91 of the Delhi High Court in C.R. No. 359 of
Rajindra Dhawan and Jitendra Sharma for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by YOGESHWAR DAYAL, J. This Special Leave
Petition filed by Sh. K.M. Singh, who was a Finance Officer of the Association
of Indian Universities, AIU House, 16 Kotla Marg, New Delhi, is against the
Judgment dated 26th April, 1991 passed by the learned Single Judge of the High
Court of Delhi in Civil Revision No. 359 of 1989.
revision petition the petitioner had sought to set aside an order dated 30th
January, 1989 passed by the learned Additional District Judge, Delhi,
dismissing the application filed on his behalf wherein he had prayed for cancelling
an order dated 14th October, 1988 vide which a part of the claim of the suit of
the petitioner/plaintiff covered by issue No.1 was ordered to be dismissed as
facts giving rise to the filing of the revision petition were that the
petitioner had filed a suit inter alia for declaring that the resignation
tendered by the petitioner/plaintiff was involuntary and a result of fraud,coercion
and threat as well as the inducement as alleged in the plaint. This plea of the
petitioner was subject matter of issue No.1.
the course of the proceedings the petitioner had filed an application dated
14th October, 1988 purporting to be under Order 10 633 Rule 2 read with Section
151 of the Code of Civil Procedure In this application it was prayed that if Sh.
Amrik Singh and Sh.R.P. Mahendroo, officers of defendant No.1.took special oath
in Gurudwara and Mandir respectively to the effect that the resignation of the
plaintiff was not ex- tracted from him on 5th April, 1976 under duress, fear, inducement,fraud,
coercion then that part of the claim might be dismissed as withdrawn. The
plaintiff/petitioner in fact made this statement before the Additional District
Judge and Sh. Amrik Singh and Sh. Mahendroo accepted the said chal- lenge. They
were ready to take special oath in Gurudwara and Mandir in terms of the
plaintiff's statement. Consequently a local commissioner was appointed by the
Additional District Judge who administered the oath to the said two person the Gurudwara
and Mandir respectively, as desired by the plain- tiff/petitioner and
accordingly the learned Additional District Judge ordered on 14.10.1988
dismissal of that part of the claim covered by issue No.1 as withdrawn. The revi-
sion petition was directed against this order as well.
on the next date i.e. 15th
October, 1988 the
plaintiff/petitioner filed another application with the prayer to decide the
aforesaid issue No.1 on merits and evidence and the defendants may not be
allowed to take advantage of the blunder committed by the plaintiff/peti- tioner
and for cancelling the order dated 14th October, 1988. This application dated 15th
October. 1988 was dis- missed by the trial court by order dated 30th January,1989.
reply filed to the Special Leave Petition it is pointed out that the suit was
fixed on 14th October,
1988 for further
evidence of the defendants and in fact on the said date Dr. Amrik Singh was to
be cross-examined by the petitioner. Dr. Amrik Singh as well as Sh. R.P. Mahendroo,
Under Secretary of the Association of Indian Universities were present in the
Court and when the suit was called the petitioner filed the application dated 14th October, 1988 wherein he had offered to abide by
the statement made by Dr. Amrik Singh and Sh. R.P. Mahendroo. Whereupon both Dr.Amrik
Singh and Sh. R.P. Mahendroo expressed their willingness and agreed to take
oath and accepted the offer. The petitioner affirmed the same and made a
further statement before the court as under:- "Dr. Amrik Singh D.W.
present in the Court and R.P.
officials of the respondents take spe- cial oath in Gurudwara and Mandir
respectively to the effect that the resignation of the plaintiff K.M. Singh was
not extracted from him on 5.4.76 under duress, fear, induce- ment, fraud or coercion
then that portion of the plaint shall be dismissed as withdrawn." The said
offer made by the petitioner was put to both Dr. Amrik Singh and Sh. Mahendroo
and both of them accepted the same and also made the following statement in
Court as under:- "We are ready to take special oath in the Mandir and Gurudwara
as stated by the plaintiff in his statement above." In view of the offer
made by the petitioner and accept- ed by both of them the Court thereafter
passed the order reading as under:- "Present - Plaintiff in person. Counsel
for the defendant.
witness of the deft. Dr. Amrik Singh is present for further cross-examination
by the plaintiff.
the plaintiff has filed an application under rule 2 read with Section 151
C.P.C. and has stated that if the said witness of the defendant and Shri R.P. Mahendroo
Under Secretary of the defendant No.1 takes special oath in the Gurudwara and Mandir
respectively to the effect that the resignation of the plaintiff was not
extracted from him on 5.4.76 under duress, fear, inducement, fraud or coercion,
then that part of the claim of the plaintiff may be deemed to be dismissed as
withdrawn. The witness and official of the defendant stated that they are ready
to take the said special oath in the Gurudwara and Mandir respectively. Let
statements be recorded. Statements have been recorded sepa- rately. The
Application filed by the plaintiff stands dis- posed of. The counsel for the
defendant states that the defendant is ready and willing to pay the admitted
part claim, if any, of the plaintiff.The plaintiff submits direc- tion to go alongwith
the parties and the witness to the Gurudwara and Mandir respectively for taking
plaintiff states that he is ready to bear the expenses of the local commissioner.
Accordingly, I hereby appoint Sh. A.P.S. Ahluwalia, Advocate, as Local
Commissioner present in Court with the direction to visit alongwith the 635
parties to Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib and Gauri Shanker Mandir today at 1 p.m. to
take special oath by the said persons.
fee is fixed at Rs.500 to be paid by the plaintiff. The plaintiff has paid the
fee of the Local Commissioner in the Court." Thereafter the petitioner
paid the fee fixed by the trial Court to the Local Commissioner. The time and
date for visit to Gurudwara and Mandir were fixed by the Court at the instance
of the petitioner as well as Dr. Amrik Singh and Sh. Mahendroo. As per the
directions of the Court the Local Commissioner in the company of the
petitioner, Dr. Amrik Singh and Sh. Mahendroo went to Gurudwara Sisganj as well
as Gauri Shanker Mandir both situated in Chandni Chowk, Delhi where the Local Commissioner
administered the oath to both of them and their statements were recorded. Both
of them denied that the plaintiffs resignation was obtained by fraud, coercion,
threat and or that he was induced to tender the resignation. After the said
oath was taken the matter was taken up in the afternoon session by the trial
court when the Local Commissioner submitted his report to the Court whereupon
the trial court passed the following order:- "Present-As before.
Local Commissioner has filed his report to the effect that he has got the
special oath adminis- tered to the witness and official of the defend- ant. In
view of the statement of the plaintiff recorded earlier the suit of the
plaintiff with regard to his resignation and consequential reinstatement which
is covered by Issue No.1 stands dismissed as withdrawn.
come up for making payment by the defendant of the other claim of the
plaintiff, if any, on 4.11.1988'' As stated earlier, thereafter, on 15th
October, 1988 the application was filed for recalling this order dismissing a
part of the suit as withdrawn. The trial court, however, took the view that
Section 20 of the Evidence Act was applicable and it also took the view that
the repeal of the Oaths Act, 1873 by Section 9 of the Oaths Act, 1969 no where
debar the parties form entering into any contract.
Court, as stated earlier, dismissed the revision petition and 636 agree with
the view of trial court. Before the High Court reliance was placed on the
decision of the Karnataka High Court in Pacharanda Nanjappa v. Pacharanda Belliappa
de- ceased by Seethavva and others, 1979-29 ITR (Karnataka) 2018. The High
Court, however, did not follow the aforesaid decision and preferred to decide
the matter in view of the decisions of the Madras High Court in J.A. Munnuswami
Naidu v. K.S.P. Thyagaraya Chettair and another, A.I.R. 1977 Madras 273; Vasudeva
Ghanbog v. Naraina Pai, 1880 ILR 2 Madras 356 decision of the Punjab and Haryana
High Court in Rustam etc. v. The Financial Commissioner, etc. 1981-83 PLR 759
and Full Bench decision of Punjab and Haryana High Court in Mrs. Florabel
Skinner and others v. Jai Bajrang Kala Mandir Ram Lila Mandal, Hissar AIR 1980
p & 284.
us also the petitioner, who appeared in person, submitted that in view of the
repeal of the Oaths Act, 1873 by the Oaths Act, 1969 the suit could not be
decided on the basis of special oath. The petitioner also relied on the
decision of the Orissa High Court in Ananda Chandra Sahu (deceased by L.R.) and
others v. Ananta Khuntia and others AIR 1983 Orissa 250.
be noticed that both the learned Single Judge of the Karnataka High Court as
well as the learned Division Bench of the Orissa High Court were correct in
noticing the effect of repeal of the Oaths Act, 1873 by Section 9 of the Oaths
Act, 1969, but it appears the provisions of Section 20 of the Evidence Act were
not brought to their notice. The learned Judges of the Karnataka High Court and
Orissa High Court were right in observing in what cases the provisions of the
Oaths Act, 1873 was to continue to govern and in which cases they would cease
to apply. But as stated earli- er, the provisions of Section 20 of the Evidence
Act were not brought to their notice. Section 20 of the Evidence Act reads as follows
:- " 20 Admissions by persons expressly referred to by party to
suit.-Statements mode by persons to whom a party to the suit has expressly
referred for infor- mation in reference to a matter in dispute are admissions.
The question is, whether a horse sold by A to B is sound.
to B "Go and ask C ,C knows all about itC's statement is an admission In Hirachand
Kothari (dead) by lrs v. State of Rajasthan and another (1985)(SUPP) SCC 17,
this Court held thus "Section 20 is the second exception to the general
rule laid down in section 18. It deals with one class of vicarious admissions.
Where a party refers to a third person for some information or an opin- ion are
matter in dispute the statements made by the third person are receivable as
admission against the person referring. The word `informa- tion' occurring in
section 20 is not to be under- stood in the sense that the parties desired to
know something which none of them had any knowledge of.
there is a dispute as regards a certain question and the Court is in need of
information regarding the truth on that point any statement which the referee
may make is nevertheless informa- tion within the purview of section 20 and is admis-
sible. The reason behind admissibility of the statement is that when a party
refers to another person for a statement of his views the party approves of the
utterance in anticipation and adopts that as his own. The principle is the same
as that of reference to arbitration The reference under section 20 may be by
express words or by conduct but in any case there must be a clear admission to
refer and such admission are generally conclusive. Admissions may operate as estoppel
and they do so where parties had agreed to abide by them " A similar
question arose in J.A. Munnuswami Naidu (supra) before the division bench of
the Madras High Court.
a suit had been filed on 16th June 1971 for recovery of money against the
appellant on the foot of a security bond. The second respondent in the suit was
a puisne mort- gagee. The appellant filed the written statement that the
respondent, the first mortgagee had fraudulently suppressed the payment of
interest in the security bond and if the proper account was taken the money
will be due to the first respondent. When the suit was taken up for trail the
plain- tiff agreed to take a special oath on his family deity that for the suit
security bond no money except those shown by way of endorsement was 638
received by him it was also agreed that the plaintiff mort- gagee taking such
an oath the suit may be decreed. The plaintiff took a special oath and the suit
was decreed. The judgment debtor filed an un-numbered execution application
praying that the decree be declared as a nullity having been passed by the
civil Court having no jurisdiction. The exe- cuting court dismissed the
objections to the execution and the matter came up in appeal before the High
Court. The learned single judge of the High Court dismissed the appeal.
the matter was taken up before the Division bench Kailasam C.J(as his lordship
then was) and Balasubrahmanyam, J. dismissed the Letters Patent Appeal. It was
submitted before the division Bench that because the Oaths Act, 1873 has been
repealed what the plaintiff had stated on special oath is not an evidence. The
learned single judge who had heard the appeal was confronted with the arguments
that the date on which the special oath was taken the Oaths Act, 1873,which
provided that when a special oath was taken under section 10, it would be
conclusive against the person who offered was no longer in force as the said
Act had been re- pealed in 1969 and the new act of 1969 dispensed with the
procedure as to the taking of the special oath and its consequences it was
common ground that the special oath was taken in ignorance of the fact that the
Oaths Act,1873,under which the procedure as to the taking of special oath was
admitted had been repealed and that the new Oaths Act had no provision for such
a procedure. The division bench observed that they could not accept the
contention that because Oaths Act,1873 has been repealed what the plaintiff has
stated on special oath is not an evidence Earlier the single judge had taken
the same view.
question directly in issue came up before a divi- sion bench of the Punjab and Haryana
High Court in Thakur singh and others v.Inder Singh,AIR 1976 P & H 287.The divi-
sion bench took the view that :
only effect of exclusion of section 9 to 12 of the oaths Act,1873 by Oaths
Act,1969 is that if any party to any judicial proceeding offers to be bound by
any special oath and the court thinks it fit to administer such an oath to the
other party consenting thereto and such oath is taken by the other party the
evidence given on such oath as against persons who offered to be bound as
afore- said would no more be conclusive proof of the matter stated in such
deposition where an agreement was arrived at between the counsel for parties
that if the 639 Defendant were to take oath in a particular Gurud- wara stating
that the suit land was not of plain- tiff and that defendant had not executed
any agree- ment in favour of plaintiff, the suit of plaintiff be dismissed and
in pursuance of the order of the Court on the basis of agreement, the defendant
did take oath there being no special oath either pre- scribed or taken and the
suit having been dismissed on the basis of such oath Held that the compromise
arrived at between the counsel for the plaintiff of behalf of his client and
the defendant appellant would be covered by section 20 the Evidence Act and the
plaintiff would be bound by the statement made by the defendant if the same is
found to have been made strictly in accordance with the terms offered by
him" It will be noticed that in the present case the oath was administered
as per plaintiffs/petitioners statement and,therefore there is thus no manner
of doubt that the oath taken by two persons is pursuance of the offer of the peti-
tioner amounted to admission of respondent's claim on his part within the
meaning of section 20 of the Evidence Act.
two persons were the nominees of the plaintiff and the statement of the
nominees by virtue of section 20 of the Evidence Act would be treated as an
admission of the parties thus the orders of the Trial court dated 14th
October,1988 and 30th January ,1989 were unassailable and the High court has
rightly dismissed the revision petition .
special leave petition is accordingly dismissed with- out any order as to costs
N.V.K Petition dismissed.