Thursday, 8 November 2018

Leading judgment on production of additional evidence in appellate court

 The general principle is that the Appellate Court should not travel outside the record of the lower court and cannot take any evidence in appeal. However, as an exception, Order XLI Rule 27 Code of Civil Procedure enables the Appellate Court to take additional evidence in exceptional circumstances. The Appellate Court may permit additional evidence only and only if the conditions laid down in this rule are found to exist. The parties are not entitled, as of right, to the admission of such evidence. Thus, provision does not apply, when on the basis of evidence on record, the Appellate Court can pronounce a satisfactory judgment. The matter is entirely within the discretion of the court and is to be used sparingly. Such a discretion is only a judicial discretion circumscribed by the limitation specified in the rule itself. (Vide: K. Venkataramiah v. A. Seetharama Reddy and Ors.MANU/SC/0243/1963 : AIR 1963 SC 1526; The Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay v. Lala Pancham and Ors.MANU/SC/0284/1964 : AIR 1965 SC 1008; Soonda Ram and Anr. v. Rameshwaralal and Anr. MANU/SC/0021/1974 : AIR 1975 SC 479; and Syed Abdul Khader v. Rami Reddy and Ors. MANU/SC/0329/1978 : AIR 1979 SC 553).

26. The Appellate Court should not, ordinarily allow new evidence to be adduced in order to enable a party to raise a new point in appeal. Similarly, where a party on whom the onus of proving a certain point lies fails to discharge the onus, he is not entitled to a fresh opportunity to produce evidence, as the Court can, in such a case, pronounce judgment against him and does not require any additional evidence to enable it to pronounce judgment. (Vide: Haji Mohammed Ishaq Wd. S.K. Mohammed and Ors. v. Mohamed Iqbal and Mohamed Ali and Company MANU/SC/0032/1978 : AIR 1978 SC 798).

27. Under Order XLI, Rule 27 Code of Civil Procedure, the appellate Court has the power to allow a document to be produced and a witness to be examined. But the requirement of the said Court must be limited to those cases where it found it necessary to obtain such evidence for enabling it to pronounce judgment. This provision does not entitle the appellate Court to let in fresh evidence at the appellate stage where even without such evidence it can pronounce judgment in a case. It does not entitle the appellate Court to let in fresh evidence only for the purpose of pronouncing judgment in a particular way. In other words, it is only for removing a lacuna in the evidence that the appellate Court is empowered to admit additional evidence. (Vide: Lala Pancham and Ors. (supra)).

28. It is not the business of the Appellate Court to supplement the evidence adduced by one party or the other in the lower Court. Hence, in the absence of satisfactory reasons for the non-production of the evidence in the trial court, additional evidence should not be admitted in appeal as a party guilty of remissness in the lower court is not entitled to the indulgence of being allowed to give further evidence under this rule. So a party who had ample opportunity to produce certain evidence in the lower court but failed to do so or elected not to do so, cannot have it admitted in appeal. (Vide: State of U.P. v. Manbodhan Lal Srivastava MANU/SC/0123/1957 : AIR 1957 SC 912; and S. Rajagopal v. C.M. Armugam and Ors. MANU/SC/0360/1968 : AIR 1969 SC 101).

29. The inadvertence of the party or his inability to understand the legal issues involved or the wrong advice of a pleader or the negligence of a pleader or that the party did not realise the importance of a document does not constitute a "substantial cause" within the meaning of this rule. The mere fact that certain evidence is important, is not in itself a sufficient ground for admitting that evidence in appeal.

30. The words "for any other substantial cause" must be read with the word "requires" in the beginning of sentence, so that it is only where, for any other substantial cause, the Appellate Court requires additional evidence that this rule will apply, e.g., when evidence has been taken by the lower Court so imperfectly that the Appellate Court cannot pass a satisfactory judgment.

31. Whenever the appellate Court admits additional evidence it should record its reasons for doing so. (Sub-rule 2). It is a salutary provision which operates as a check against a too easy reception of evidence at a late stage of litigation and the statement of reasons may inspire confidence and disarm objection. Another reason of this requirement is that, where a further appeal lies from the decision, the record of reasons will be useful and necessary for the Court of further appeal to see, if the discretion under this rule has been properly exercised by the Court below. The omission to record the reasons must, therefore, be treated as a serious defect. But this provision is only directory and not mandatory, if the reception of such evidence can be justified under the rule.

32. The reasons need not be recorded in a separate order provided they are embodied in the judgment of the appellate Court. A mere reference to the peculiar circumstances of the case, or mere statement that the evidence is necessary to pronounce judgment, or that the additional evidence is required to be admitted in the interests of justice, or that there is no reason to reject the prayer for the admission of the additional evidence, is not enough compliance with the requirement as to recording of reasons.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Civil Appeal No. 1374 of 2008

Decided On: 17.07.2012

 Union of India (UOI) Vs.  Ibrahim Uddin and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
B.S. Chauhan and Dipak Misra, JJ.


Citation: (2012) 8 SCC 148, 
Read full judgment here:Click here
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