Saturday, 9 February 2019

Whether bailiff report is public document?

 But, if the report of the bailiff was to be treated as a
public document, there was nothing for the respondent no.4 to
do, but to produce a certified copy of the same and then claim
that he had proved his stand. This would be contrary to the
requirement of Section 101 of the aforesaid Act, which reads as
follows:-
101. Burden of proof.—Whoever desires any
Court to give judgment as to any legal right or
liability dependent on the existence of facts
which he asserts, must prove that those facts
exist.
When a person is bound to prove the existence of
any fact, it is said that the burden of proof lies on
that person.
18. Thus, it becomes clear that the burden to prove

clearly was on the respondent no.4 in the facts of the present
case. Only the contents of the summons issued by the Court,
consisting of name of the Court, name of the parties, seal of
the Court and the returnable date stated in the summons could
be said to be a public document. The report written by the
bailiff on the reverse of the said document could certainly not
be said to be a public document under Section 74 of the said
Act. Yet, the trial Court passed the order dated 26.08.2015
allowing the production of the documents, including the bailiff
report, by the respondent no.4 and passed the impugned order
dated 26.08.2015 below Exh.40 holding the said documents to
be directly admissible in evidence as public documents and
marking them as exhibits. The trial Court also erred in passing
the impugned order dated 21.07.2016 below Exh.44 rejecting
the application of the petitioner for de-exhibiting the said
documents including the bailiff report. It is also surprising that
the trial Court did not even call for the say/response of the
petitioner while passing the order, whereby production of the
documents was allowed and while passing impugned order
dated 26.08.2015, whereby the documents including the said
bailiff report, were treated as public documents and accepted.
This was clearly erroneous, thereby rendering the impugned
orders unsustainable and liable to be quashed and set aside.

19. In the light of the above, the present writ petition is
allowed and the impugned orders are quashed and set aside.
The application Exh.44 is allowed. It is held that the bailiff
report sought to be placed on record and exhibited as public
document cannot be treated as a public document and that it
will have to be proved by respondent no.4 in accordance with
law.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
NAGPUR BENCH : NAGPUR
Writ Petition No. 79 of 2017

Sushilkumar Mandanlal Ganediwal, Vs  Vijaykumar Mandanlal Ganediwal,


CORAM : MANISH PITALE, J.

DATED: JANUARY 31,2019


1. Rule. Rule made returnable forthwith. Heard finally

with the consent of the learned counsel appearing for the
parties.
2. An interesting question arises in the present writ
petition, as to whether the report of bailiff on a summons
issued by a Court could be said to be public document under
Section 74 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and consequently
placing certified copy of the same would amount to proof of
contents thereof under Section 77 of the said Act.
3. The petitioner herein was the original defendant no.1
in a suit filed for declaration and possession. The respondent
no.4 herein was added as defendant no.7 in the said suit but
the suit abated against him. A counter claim had been filed on
behalf of respondent no.4 in the suit about which the petitioner
had no intimation or knowledge, as a result of which he failed
to file any written statement to the same. The Court of Civil
Judge, Senior Division, Amravati (trial court), allowed the
counter claim filed by respondent no.4 and passed a decree
against the co-defendants, including the petitioner herein.
4. It was the case of the petitioner that he came to know
about passing of decree on counter claim filed by respondent

no.4 on 21.11.2009 and consequently on 28.11.2009 he moved
an application under Order 9 Rule 13 read with Section 151 of
the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), along with an
application for condonation of delay. The petitioner led
evidence in support of his case before the trial Court and he
was also cross-examined at length. After the evidence of the
petitioner and his witnesses was over, when the proceeding
before the trial Court was posted for evidence of the
respondents, without filing any affidavit on record, the
respondent no.4 filed an application for production of document
marked Exh.38. Along with the said application, certified copy
of bailiff report dated 01.03.2006 was filed and on 26.08.2015,
without calling for say/response of the petitioner, the trial Court
allowed the application for production of the documents
including the certified copy of the said bailiff report. On the
same day, the trial Court passed an order on Exh.40, which was
an application filed on behalf of respondent no.4 for exhibiting
the said documents, including certified copy of the bailiff
report. By the said order, the trial Court recorded that since
the said documents were public documents, they were directly
admissible in evidence and there was no need to file
application for exhibiting the said documents. It was further
recorded in the said order that all public documents be

marked as exhibited. It is relevant that the say/response of the
petitioner was not called by the trial Court while passing the
said order dated 26.08.2015 on Exh.40.
5. The petitioner filed an application marked as Exh.44
for de-exhibiting of the said documents, contending before the
trial Court that the bailiff report could not be said to be a public
document and that the burden was on the respondent no.4 to
prove that there was valid service of summons on the
petitioner and further that exhibiting the said document
unfairly placed the burden on the petitioner to prove that he
was not served with the summons.
6. By the impugned order dated 21.07.2016, the trial
Court rejected the said application of the petitioner holding that
the report of the bailiff was a public document, as it was in the
prescribed proforma of the Court and it had seal and signature
of the issuing authority as also the process server. It was
further held that the copy on record was a certified copy issued
by the trial Court itself and there was nothing wrong in the
earlier order dated 26.08.2015 whereby the said bailiff report
and the other documents, being public documents, had been
directed to be exhibited. The petitioner has filed the

present writ petition challenging the said order passed by the
trial Court. The order dated 26.08.2015 passed by the Trial
Court on Exh.40 is also challenged in this writ petition.
7. Mr. Sawan Alaspurkar, the learned counsel appearing
for the petitioner, submitted that the trial Court committed a
grave error in treating the bailiff report in the present case as a
public document under Section 74 of the aforesaid Act. It was
submitted that the said document did not fall within the
description of public documents under Section 74 of the said
Act because a bailiff report could not be said to be a document
forming an act or record of acts of sovereign authority, official
body or a tribunal. It was submitted that the portion of the
document forming summons issued by the Court stating the
name of the Court and bearing the seal of the Court could be
said to be a public document, but report of the bailiff on the
reverse of the said document did not form part of a public
document as defined under Section 74 of the said Act. It was
submitted that when the petitioner had come out with a
specific case that he was never served with the summons, the
burden was clearly upon respondent no.4 to prove that service
had been effected on the petitioner and that it was for
respondent no.4 to discharge the burden by proving the bailiff

report and examining the bailiff to prove the fact of service of
summons on the petitioner, as per procedure known to law. It
was submitted that if production of certified copy of the bailiff
report amounted to proof of contents thereof under Section 77
of the said Act, the entire burden would unfairly and wrongly
be shifted to the petitioner. The learned counsel for petitioner
relied upon judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the
case of Sushil Kumar Sabharwal .vs. Gurpreet Singh -
(2002) 5 Supreme Court Cases 377 and judgment of High
Court of Punjab and Harayana in Prem Singh .vs. Bal Kishan
and others (Order dated 15.09.2014 in CR No. 4660 of
2013), judgment of Nagpur High Court in the case of
Manbodh .vs. Hirasai - AIR 1926 Nagpur 339, judgment of
this Court in the case of Smt. Shamlata Manohar Raut .vs.
Vishweshwara Tukaram Giripunje - AIR 2008 Bombay
155 and judgment of Allahabad High Court in Radhey and
another .vs. Board of Revenue, U.P. - AIR 1990
Allahabad 175.
8. On the other hand, Mr. J.J. Chandurkar, learned
counsel appearing for the respondent no.4 in the present case
contended that the trial Court was justified in treating the
certified copy of the bailiff report as public document under

Section 74 of the said Act. It was submitted that the report of
the bailiff regarding service of summons on the petitioner
formed an act of an official body and it was certainly a record
of the act of the bailiff, who served summons on the petitioner,
as directed by the Court. On this basis, it was submitted that
the trial Court was justified in allowing the public document i.e.
the bailiff report to be placed on record and production of
certified copy of the said bailiff report as proof of contents of
the said public document. It was submitted that since the
bailiff went with the summons to serve the petitioner, on the
directions and official act of the trial Court, the report written
by the bailiff on the reverse of the summons clearly formed
part of a public document as defined under Section 74 of the
said Act. The learned counsel placed reliance on judgment of
the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Jaswant Singh .vs.
Gurdev Singh and ors. - Civil Appeal No. 8879-8880 of
2011 dated 21.10.2011.
9. In the present case, the whole emphasis of the
petitioner is on the fact that he was never served with
summons issued by the trial Court and that, therefore, decree
passed on counter claim filed by respondent no.4 deserved to
be set aside and the claim of respondent no.4 was required to

be decided afresh by giving a fair and proper opportunity to the
petitioner to contest such claim made by the respondent no.4.
This was the thrust in the application filed on behalf of the
petitioner under Order 9 Rule 13 of the C.P.C. In a situation like
the one in the present case, the proof of service of summons
on the petitioner assumes great significance. The finding
rendered by the Court on the aforesaid issue would decide
whether the application of the petitioner was to be rejected or
that an opportunity was to be granted to the petitioner to
demonstrate that the claim of respondent no.4 was untenable.
The central issue in such a case, as to the status of the bailiff
report being a public document under Section 74 of the said
Act, becomes crucial and if the contents of the said document
are proved only by production of certified copy thereof, the
burden falls entirely on the petitioner to then show that the
said document could not be relied upon by the trial Court to
hold against him.
10. In order to examine as to whether the bailiff report
could be said to be a public document under Section 74 of the
said Act, it would be necessary to refer to the relevant
provisions pertaining to public documents and their proof under
the aforesaid Act. These provisions are as follows:-

74. Public documents.—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, 1[of any part of India or of the
Commonwealth], or of a foreign country; 1[of any
part of India or of the Commonwealth], or of a
foreign country;"
(2) Public records kept 2[in any State] of private
documents.
76. Certified copies of public documents.—
Every 1public officer having the custody of a
public document, which any person has a right to
inspect, shall give that person on demand a copy
of it on payment of the legal fees therefor,
together with a certificate written at the foot of
such copy that it is a true copy of such document
or part thereof, as the case may be, and such
certificate shall be dated and subscribed by such
officer with his name and his official title, and
shall be sealed, whenever such officer is
authorized by law to make use of a seal; and
such copies so certified shall be called certified
copies. Explanation.—Any officer who, by the
ordinary course of official duty, is authorized to
deliver such copies, shall be deemed to have the
custody of such documents within the meaning
of this section.
77. Proof of documents by production of
certified copies.—Such certified copies may be
produced in proof of the contents of the public
documents or parts of the public documents of
which they purport to be copies.
11. There cannot be any doubt that once a document
qualifies to be a public document under Section 74 of the said
Act, production of certified copy thereof amounts to proof of
contents of the said document under Section 77 of the said Act.

If the bailiff report in the present case can be said to be a
document forming an act or record of the act of a sovereign
authority, in this case the trial Court, it would certainly qualify
to be a public document and, therefore, production of certified
copy of the said document before the trial Court would be
sufficient to prove the contents of the same. If that be so,
there is nothing more for the respondent no.4 to prove and the
entire case of the petitioner of not being served with summons
would stand annihilated. Therefore, it is contended
vehemently on behalf of the petitioner that the bailiff report
cannot be said to be a public document and that it is for the
respondent no.4 to examine the bailiff to prove the same and
that the burden lies entirely on the respondent no.4 to prove
the bailiff report by procedure known to law, like any other
document.
12. In the case of Jaswant Singh .vs. Gurudev Singh
(supra), relied upon by the learned counsel for the respondent
no.4, it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that a
compromise that had merged into a decree of the Court had
become part and parcel of the decree and hence it was a
public document in terms of Section 74 of the said Act and
production of certified copy of the same amounted to proof of

contents thereof under Section 77 of the said Act. In the case
of Sushil Kumar Sabharwal .vs. Gurpreet Singh (supra)
relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner, on facts,
the Hon’ble Supreme Court found that summons were not
served and the process server when examined as a witness
had deposed in contradiction to the contents of the reports
prepared by him. In this situation, it was held by the Hon’ble
Supreme Court that the Courts below were wrong in
proceeding on the basis that the appellant had been served
with process. The judgments relied upon by the learned
counsel for the petitioner in the case of Prem Singh .vs. Bal
Kishan, Manbodh .vs. Hirasai and Smt. Shamlata .vs.
Vishweshwara (supra) have held that the bailiff must be
produced before the Court in the witness box to prove the
service of summons, that the plaint is not a public document
and it must be proved in the ordinary way, that certified copy
of a plaint could not be said to be proof of the contents thereof
and that report of a Naib Tahsildar was not a public document
under Section 74 of the Act, because it was an expression of his
own impression on the basis of spot inspection.
13. In this context, a few more judgments are relevant.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case of Jagdish Prasad

.vs. Daulatraam – (2011) 3 ML LJ 100 has held that
endorsement and report of a bailiff (process server) on the
reverse of a warrant of possession stating that order of the
Court had been carried out by delivering possession to the
plaintiff was undoubtedly a public document and production of
certified copy thereof was sufficient proof of the contents of
the document in terms of Section 77 of the Evidence Act.
Similarly, in the case of Balku .vs. King Emperor – AIR
1925 Oudh 183, the Court held that delivery of possession in
execution of a decree was undoubtedly an act of a Court and
report made to the Court by an Officer that its order had been
carried out was undoubtedly a public document under Section
74 of the said Act. On the other hand, the Jharkhand High
Court in the case of Junul Surin .vs. Silas Munda - AIR
2008 Jharkhand 82, has held that there is a distinction
between record of the Court and the record of the act of the
Court. It has been further held that a report, even if prepared
in discharging official duty with regard to possession, cannot be
a public document so that report of possession is taken as
conclusive. It has been held that the document issued under
the seal of the Court is a public document but report of the
process server cannot be said to be a public document.

14. The aforesaid judgments of various High Courts
clearly show that there is a divergence of opinion as to whether
a document, like a bailiff report in the present, case can be said
to be a public document under Section 74 of the said Act.
Having considered the views taken by various High Courts, as
noted above, this Court finds that treating a bailiff report of
service of summons as in the present case, to be a public
document under Section 74 of the said Act, would not be in
consonance with law. This is because the report of a bailiff, as
in this case, on the reverse of the document of summons
issued by the Court is nothing but his opinion about service of
summons or otherwise on the person to whom the summons
have been issued by the Court. Although, it may be an official
act, the report itself submitted by the bailiff in pursuance of the
summons issued by the Court, cannot be said to be an act of
the Court or record of an act of the Court, to qualify as a public
document under Section 74 of the said Act. The judgment
relied upon by the learned counsel for the respondent no.4 in
the case of Jaswant Singh .vs. Gurdev Singh (supra) is
clearly distinguishable because in the said case the
compromise had merged into a decree of the Court , passed
by the Court in pursuance of the said compromise. Therefore,
a compromise which was part of a decree passed by the Court,

being an act of the Court, qualified to be a public document
and production of certified copy thereof was enough to prove
the contents of the same. In this context, this Court
respectfully agrees with the view taken by the Jharkhand High
Court in the case of Junul Surin .vs. Silas Munda (supra)
and consequently the bailiff report in the present case cannot
be treated as a public document under Section 74 of the said
Act. The relevant portion of the said judgment of the Jharkhand
High Court in the case of Junul Surin .vs. Silas Munda
(supra) reads as follows:-
“9. There is distinction between the record of
the Court and the record of the act of the
Court. It is only record of act of the Court
which is a public document. A report even if
prepared in discharging official duty with
regard to possession cannot be a public
document so as to report of possession is
taken as conclusive. The report in relation to
possession cannot be taken as statutory
report. What is stated in the report however
has to be proved if the same is not accepted
by other side. For example if a summon for
settlement of issue or disposal of suits is
issued under the seal of the Court directing
the defendants to appear on a particular date
this part of the summon, no doubt is a public
document but the report of the process server
with regard to service of summon made on the
back of the report or on a separate sheet
cannot take place of a public document. If the
party disputes the report and the service of
summons then the report has to be proved.
Similarly, if a writ of attachment or writ for
affecting delivery of possession is issued by
the judicial or quasi judicial authority directing
the officer or bailiff to effect delivery of

possession then the report of the officer or
bailiff certifying the execution of writ for
delivery of possession cannot be taken as a
public document and therefore, report of the
officer effecting delivery of possession has to
be proved.”
15. This Court respectfully disagrees with the views of
the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jagdish Prasad .vs.
Daulatram (supra) and the High Court of Oudh in Balku .vs.
King Emperor (supra).
16. It is also relevant that in the present case the
petitioner has come to the Court with a specific case that he
was never served with summons and that, therefore, the
counter claim of respondent no.4 decreed ex parte against him
was not sustainable. The respondent no.4 denied the said
stand taken by the petitioner and sought to rely upon the bailiff
report to claim that the petitioner had been served with
summons and that, therefore, the application filed by him
under Order 9 Rule 13 of the C.P.C. was liable to be rejected.
Therefore, it was the respondent no.4 who was asserting that
the petitioner was served with summons and he was asserting
the existence of the fact of service of summons on the
petitioner, by relying upon the aforesaid bailiff report.
Applying Section 101 of the said Act, the burden in such a

situation clearly was on respondent no.4 to prove the existence
of the fact of service of summons on the petitioner, on the
strength of the said bailiff report. The burden could not be
said to be discharged by the respondent no.4 by merely
producing certified copy of the said bailiff report written on the
reverse of the summons, but it was for the respondent no.4 to
have examined the bailiff to prove the existence of the fact of
service of summons on the petitioner, on the strength of the
said bailiff report. The petitioner could then cross-examine the
said witness (bailiff).
17. But, if the report of the bailiff was to be treated as a
public document, there was nothing for the respondent no.4 to
do, but to produce a certified copy of the same and then claim
that he had proved his stand. This would be contrary to the
requirement of Section 101 of the aforesaid Act, which reads as
follows:-
101. Burden of proof.—Whoever desires any
Court to give judgment as to any legal right or
liability dependent on the existence of facts
which he asserts, must prove that those facts
exist.
When a person is bound to prove the existence of
any fact, it is said that the burden of proof lies on
that person.
18. Thus, it becomes clear that the burden to prove

clearly was on the respondent no.4 in the facts of the present
case. Only the contents of the summons issued by the Court,
consisting of name of the Court, name of the parties, seal of
the Court and the returnable date stated in the summons could
be said to be a public document. The report written by the
bailiff on the reverse of the said document could certainly not
be said to be a public document under Section 74 of the said
Act. Yet, the trial Court passed the order dated 26.08.2015
allowing the production of the documents, including the bailiff
report, by the respondent no.4 and passed the impugned order
dated 26.08.2015 below Exh.40 holding the said documents to
be directly admissible in evidence as public documents and
marking them as exhibits. The trial Court also erred in passing
the impugned order dated 21.07.2016 below Exh.44 rejecting
the application of the petitioner for de-exhibiting the said
documents including the bailiff report. It is also surprising that
the trial Court did not even call for the say/response of the
petitioner while passing the order, whereby production of the
documents was allowed and while passing impugned order
dated 26.08.2015, whereby the documents including the said
bailiff report, were treated as public documents and accepted.
This was clearly erroneous, thereby rendering the impugned
orders unsustainable and liable to be quashed and set aside.

19. In the light of the above, the present writ petition is
allowed and the impugned orders are quashed and set aside.
The application Exh.44 is allowed. It is held that the bailiff
report sought to be placed on record and exhibited as public
document cannot be treated as a public document and that it
will have to be proved by respondent no.4 in accordance with
law.
20. Rule made absolute in the aforesaid terms with no
order as to costs.
(Manish Pitale, J. )

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