Report No. 185
Sections 74 to 78 deal with 'Public documents', Private documents, certified copies and proof. We shall take up the sections one after the other.
Section 74 reads as follows:
"74: The following documents are public documents.-
(1) documents forming the acts or records of the acts
(i) of the sovereign authority,
(ii) of official bodies and Tribunals, and
(iii) of public officers, legislative, judicial and executive, (of any part of India or of the Commonwealth), or of a foreign country;
(2) public records kept in any State of private documents."
In the 69th Report, after a lengthy discussion, it was proposed in para 34.18 that the plaints, written statements, petitions and other papers filed by parties be regarded as public documents by adding following Explanation:
"Explanation.- Records forming part of a case leading to a judgment of a court or an order of a public officer, if the order is pronounced judicially, are themselves public documents."
Before making the above recommendations, the 69th Report examined the conflicting case law of various High Courts on the question.
The Commission, in paras 34.13 to 34.15 referred to the problem concerning the meaning of the words "documents forming the acts or records of the acts". Case law concerning income tax returns on the one hand and pages forwarded to a magistrate by a police officer in connection with the Code of Criminal Procedure (see Narasimha v. Venkataramayya: AIR 1940 Mad. 768 (FB) and Queen Express v. Arumugam : (1896) ILR 20 Mad 189 (FB) was dealt with. But, it was observed in para 34.15 of the Report that having regard to the various types of documents that may be coming up under Section 74, "it would not be easy to frame a clarification of a general nature".
We agree with the above view, and finally agree that the limited Explanation which is applicable to courts/public offices pronouncing judicial orders, be accepted.
We propose a modified Explanation be added in clause (1) of Section 74, using the word 'deemed'. For convenience, we shall reproduce it again:
"Explanation.- Records forming part of a case leading to a judgment of a Court or an order of a public officer, if the order is pronounced judicially, shall be deemed to be public documents."