1. The core question that arises for consideration in this revision, is whether before giving a direction to a party to make discovery of document, should the Court satisfy itself that the document is relevant for proper adjudication of the matter involved in the suit?
2. This question has emerged in the following circumstances-
(i) The plaintiff non-petitioner (for short plaintiff) instituted a suit for declaration and permanent injunction against the defendant-petitioner (for short defendant) in the trial Court. It was prayed that the retirement order dated October 31, 1991 be declared as null and void
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and ineffective and the defendant be restrained from retiring the plaintiff before October 31, 1998. The prayer was sought on the ground that all Executives in the defendant-Company retired at the age of 65 years and not at the age of 58 years. Executives Sarvshri R. K. Goyal, K. N. Pathak and Bhupendra Singh were retired after attaining the age of 65 years whereas the defendant-Company wanted to retire the plaintiff at the age of 58 years.
(ii) The defendant refuted the allegations made in the plaint by filing the written statement and pleaded that K. N. Pathak and R. K. Goyal were respectively holding the post of President and Joint President to whom the retirement scheme framed by the Company on August 29, 1993, applied. Office order dated March 26, 1985 issued by the Chief Executive President of the Company did not apply to K. N. Pathak and R. K. Goyal. The order dated March 26, 1985 did apply to Bhupendra Singh but his services were extended by a separate order. In the case of the plaintiff, the office order fixing the age of superannuation at 58 years applied in terms of the office order dated March 26, 1985. A list of the officers and the staff retired on attaining the age of superannuation at 58 years during the period from 1985 to October 18, 1993, was (submitted by the defendant- Company in the trial Court.
(iii) After framing the issues the case was fixed for recording the evidence of the plaintiff.
(iv) On October 15, 1996 the plaintiff moved an application under Order 11, Rule 14 of the Code of Civil Procedure, praying therein that the service books of the plaintiff, Shri R. K. Goyal and Sh. K. N. Pathak be summoned as they will be useful for arriving at the correct decision. The defendant contested the application.
(v) The trial Court vide order dated November 7, 1996 allowed the application and directed the defendant to produce the service books as required in the application.
(vi) The order dated November 7,1996 has been assailed in this revision.
3. I have given my thoughtful consideration to the arguments advanced before me by the learned counsel for the parties and perused the impugned order.
4. A look at the impugned order reveals that the trial Court has allowed the application of the plaintiff making following observations :
"Conclusion is this that summoning of aforesaid service books, is necessary."
5. Before adverting to the rival contentions, it is necessary to examine the provisions contained in Order 11, Rule 14, C.P.C. which reads thus:
"It shall be lawful for the Court, at any time during the pendency of any suit, to order the production by any party thereto, upon oath, of such of the documents in his possession or power relating to any matter in question in such suit, as the Court shall think right and the Court may deal with such document, when produced, in such manner as shall appear just."
6. Mr. C. K. Garg, learned counsel for the plaintiff raised a preliminary objection regarding maintainability of the revision. It is contended that if the impugned order is allowed to stand no failure of justice will be occasioned. No jurisdictional error was committed by the trial Court as it had jurisdiction to issue necessary directions for production of the documents. Reliance was placed on Ravindra Bal Niketan Samiti, Sikar v. Smt. Sushila Srivastaya : AIR 1988 Raj 177):1988 Raj LW 15
7. Mr. Dharam Gopal Chaturvedi, learned counsel for the defendant, on the other hand vehemently canvassed that the impugned order is not sustainable as the privilege vested in a party to the suit by the provisions contained in Order 11, Rule 14 is not intended to enable him to cause a roving enquiry to fish out information which may not be relevant for disposal of the suit. Reliance was placed by the learned counsel on J. S. Construction Pvt. Ltd. v. Damodar Rout, Sridhar Dubey v. Union of India 1975 Lab IC 1353 (All), Laj Pat Rai v. Tej Bhan, Basana Gouda v. Dr. S. B. Amarkhed : (1992) 2 SCC 612.
8. In Basanagouda's case (supra) the Hon'ble Supreme Court has held that the Court's power to order production of documents is coupled with discretion to examine the expediency, justness and the relevancy of the documents to the matter in question. These are relevant consideration which the Court shall have to advert to and weigh before deciding to summoning the documents in possession of the party.
9. In the instant case, the trial Court while allowing the application of the plaintiff has only observed that "summoning of service books is necessary." The expediency, justness and the relevancy of the service books to the matter in question has not been examined. The relevant consideration which the trial Court ought to have weighed, were not adverted to before taking decision about summoning of the service books. Such an approach of the trial Court cannot be termed as 'judicial approach.' It is not the intention of the Legislature that such an order should be made as a matter of routine and as one of no serious consequences.
10. Contention of Mr. C. K. Garg, the learned counsel for the plaintiff that the revision' is not maintainable, cannot be accepted. In the instant case the trial Court did not judicially exercise the discretion vested in it under Order 11, Rule 14, C.P.C. and, therefore, it acted illegally or with material irregularity in the exercise of its jurisdiction. In Govind Mohan v. Magneram Bangur and Co : AIR 1940 Cal 331, the Calcutta High Court interfered with such an order under Section 115, C.P.C.
11. I accordingly, allow the revision and set aside the impugned order. Costs easy