Report No. 54
Production of Documents
13.1. Detailed rules as to production, impounding and return of documents are contained in Order 13. These rules apply also to the material objects other than documents, by virtue of rule 11. The principal provision is in rule 1, the substance of it being that documentary evidence must be produced at the first hearing. The main object of this provision is to prevent fraud by the party relying on the document and also to prevent surprise to the opposite party and to give to the court a clear picture of the case of the party concerned with the documents. A specific provision deals with the effect of non-production of documents, and the court is empowered to reject irrelevant or inadmissible documentary evidence. The rest of the provisions in this Order really pertain to ministerial acts, such as, filing the documents, numbering them and the like.
Order 13, rule 1
13.2. Under Order 13, rule 1, the parties or their pleaders must produce "at the first hearing" the documentary evidence on which they intend to rely and which is in their possession or power and which has not already been filed in court, as also all documents which the court has ordered to be produced. The expression "first hearing" in this rule has led to some controversy. It has been held by the Calcutta High Court1 that this does not mean the first hearing for appearance of the defendants, but it means the hearing after the pleadings are completed and before the issues are framed.
1. Ashoka Marketing v. Rothas Kumar, AIR 1966 Cal 591 (594), para 18 (B.N. Bannerjee, J.).
13.3. The Madras view1 is that it means the hearing at which issues are framed. The Madras High Court2 observed that parties are not bound to produce the documents, until the issues are framed.
1. Chidambaram v. Parvathi, AIR 1926 Mad 347 (348) (Jackson, J.).
2. Lakshminarayanmoorthi v. Sundaram, AIR 1935 Mad 261 (Walsh, J.) (Obiter).
13.4. The Madras case1 of 1926 points out that the reason for having all documents produced when issues are framed is to prevent fabrication to suit the issues. It has also been pointed out that it is only after the issues are framed that the parties can decide what is essential. "Unessential documents filed in a case are a nuisance to all concerned".
1. Chidambaram v. Parvathi, AIR 1926 Mad 347 (348).
13.5. It may be noted that the Patna and Orissa High Courts have added the following words after the words "at the first hearing"-
"or where issues are framed, on the day when issues are framed, or within such further time as the Court may permit".
13.6. The Bombay High Court has substituted the following rule:
"1. Documentary evidence to be produced at or before the settlement of issues-(1) The parties or their pleaders shall produce at or before the settlement of issues all the documentary evidence of every description in their possession or power on which they intend to rely and which has not already been filed in the Court, and all documents which the Court has ordered to be produced.
(2) The Court shall receive the documents so produced:
Provided that they are accompanied by an accurate list thereof prepared in such form as the High Court directs".
13.7. It appears to be desirable to adopt the Bombay Amendment, in order to make the provision more explicit1.
1. Amendment not drafted.