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Report No. 69

III. Statutory Provisions

35.9. Possible situations under statutory Provisions.-

The two rights relevant to the present discussion-inspection and copies-are sometimes provided for by statute. These statutory provisions are of various categories.

(a) The statute may give a right of inspection, and also provide a penalty and a remedy in case of refusal to allow inspection. This is rare in modern times.

(b) Or, the statute may merely give a right of inspection, without making any provision for any remedy.1

(c) Or, the statute may give a right to certified copies, without an express provision for inspection.

1. See Appendix.

35.10. An example of the last mentioned category is to be found in the code of Civil Procedure, 1908, whereunder1 certified copies of judgments and decrees of certain courts must be furnished. The Code of Criminal Procedure similarly gives a right to obtain a copy of the document in certain cases.2 A right to obtain a copy is conferred by many other statutory provisions,3 which we need not enumerate for the present purpose. Examples are however given in the footnote.

1. Order 20, rule 20, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

2. See Appendix.

3. For example-

(a) Section 19, Societies Registration Act, 1860;

(b) Section 4, Powers of Attorney Act, 1882;

(c) Section 35, Indian Registration Act, 1908;

(d) Section 164, Companies Act, 1956;

(e) Various Acts relating to marriages.

35.11. Certified copies in England-Statutory provisions.-

Certain statutory provisions in force in England may be For example, copies of records in the public Record Office in the custody of the Master of the Rolls may be made at the request and cost of any person desirous of acquiring them; and any copies so made are to be examined and certified as true and authentic copies by the Deputy Keeper of the Records or one of the Assistant Record Keepers and sealed or stamped with the seal of the Record Officer-Every copy so certified and purporting to be sealed or stamped with that seal is admissible in evidence without any further or other proof thereof, in every case in which the original record could have been received in evidence1

1. Sections 12 and 13, Public Records Office Act, 1838, (1 and 2 Vict., Chapter 94).

35.12. By the Evidence Act, 1845,1 wherever by an Act in force any certificate. official or public document, or document or proceeding of any corporation or joint stock or other company or any certified copy of any document, bye-law, entry in any register or other book; or of any other proceeding, shall be receivable in evidence of any particular in any court of justice or before any legal tribunal either House of Parliament or any committee of either house or in any judicial proceeding, the same shall respectively be admitted in evidence provided they purport to be sealed or officially stamped or sealed and signed as required or impressed with a stamp or signed, directed by the respective Act. Proof of the seal or stamp or signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed, is dispensed with, and further proof thereof is also dispensed with, "in every case in which the original record could have been received in evidence."

1. Section 1, Evidence Act, 1845 (8 & 9 Vict., C. 113) (Eng).

35.13. Section 14 of the Evidence Act, 1851,1 is a more general provision,, and reads thus.-

"14. Whenever any book or other document is of such a public nature as to be admissible in evidence on its mere production from the proper custody, and no statute exists which renders its contents provable by means of a copy, any copy thereof or extract there from shall be admissible in-evidence in any court of justice, or before any person now or hereafter having by law or by consent of parties authority to bear, receive, and examine evidence, provided it be proved to be an examined copy of extract, or provided it purport to be signed and certified as a true copy or extract by the officer to whose custody the original is intrusted, and which officer is hereby required to furnish such certified copy or extract to any person applying at a reasonable time for the same, upon payment of a reasonable sum for the same, not exceeding four pence for every folio of ninety words."

1. Section 14, Evidence Act, 1851 (Eng).

IV. Meaning of Right to Inspect as Referred to in section 76

35.14. Controversy as to the words "rights to inspect.-do they imply a right to look into the record.-

After this general discussion as to the importance and possible sources of the right to inspect, we may turn our attention to certain points arising with reference to the words "right to inspect", as employed in section 76.

35.15. A controversy seems to have arisen as to whether these words mean that there must (in order to bring the case within section 76) be a right to look into the entire original record, or whether the requirement indicated thereby is satisfied in any other manner. Thus, in a Bombay case,1 it was held that income-tax officer is prohibited by section 54 of the Income-tax Act, 1922 (now repealed and re-enacted, from giving certified copies of income-tax returns or of assessment orders even to the assessee on demand, and that the assessee has no "right to inspect" these original documents from the custody of the Income-tax officer. Hence, section 76 does not apply to them.

1. Devi Dutt v. Sri Ram, AIR 1932 Born 291.

35.16. On the other hand, in an Allahabad case,1 it was held that since, under the Income-tax Manual, a copy of the assessment order is supplied to the assessee, free of cost, he can be taken as having a right to inspect the order within the meaning of section 76.

1. Suraj Narain v. Jhabu Lal, AIR 1944 All 114 (Alsop and G.P. Mathur, B.).

35.17. Recommendation as to copies given under statutory provisions.-

It is desirable to clarify the law on the subject. We are of the view that whenever copies are required to be given to a person under a statutory provision, or non statute rule or order made by the government even if it be non statutory the document should be regarded1 as one which that person has a "right to inspect" within the meaning should be so amended. It would advance the object of the legislation.

1. This is not a draft.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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