Monday 18 October 2021

Under which circumstances Appellate court can call upon Municipal Corporation to produce additional evidence at appellate stage?

 It is no doubt true that the Municipal authorities, due to negligence or otherwise, did not place these orders of delegation on the record of the Small Cause Court. Our attention has, however, been drawn to the Rules, known as "Municipal Appeal Rules, 1976" made by this Court in exercise of the powers conferred under Article 227 of the Constitution. Rule 10 of, the said Rules, inter alia, states that the written reply shall be set out in paragraphs numbered consecutively stating whether the facts are disputed by the respondent or not. In the instant case, there has been a general denial in the written statement, with regard to the validity of the orders passed, but that is not material because Rule 11 gives the Magistrate or the Judge power to suo motu call for additional evidence if he considers it necessary in the interest of justice. In our opinion, the Small Cause Court ought to have suo motu called for additional evidence. As has been stated in the said Civil Application, powers have been delegated by the Municipal Commissioners right since 1961. The Small Cause Courts ought to have enquired and required orders of delegation being placed on record. Section 49 and Section 69 both envisage delegation of powers and it would have been proper exercise of jurisdiction if the Small Cause Courts had demanded leading of such evidence. In any case, this Court has powers under Order 41 Rule 27 to entertain the application. Merely because there has been possible negligence on the part of the Corporation in not producing the orders of delegation before the Small Cause Court should not result in an undue or unjust benefit being given to a tenant and the Corporation being deprived of the tax legitimately due under the Act. This is a case where due to the fault in producing evidence in order to meet a technical objection on the part of the tenants, payment of legitimate tax dues are sought to be avoided. For the negligence of the Corporation's lawyer or its employees, public revenue should not be allowed to suffer and just dues must be paid. To our opinion, the power of the appellate court to allow fresh evidence even at the appellate stage under Order 41, Rule 27 cannot be disputed. The circumstances contained in the said provision are clearly satisfied. In this connection, reference may be made to the case of Billa Jagan Mohan Reddy v. Billa Sanjeeva Reddy, (1994) 4 SCC 659 where it has been observed that :--

"....It is settled law that, if the documents are found to be relevant to decide the real issue in the controversy, and when the court felt that interest of justice requires that the documents may be received, exercising the power under Order 41, Rule 27, CPC the appellate court would receive the documents and consider their effect thereof...."

In the present case, the interest of justice does require the acceptance of the documents, which clearly show that the Officers under whose signature the notices were issued and who passed the orders of assessment and sent the bills were duly empowered to do so. Accordingly, Civil Application No. 2232 of 1994 is allowed.

Gujarat High Court
Municipal Corporation Of The City ... vs Oriental Fire & General Insurance ... on 8 September, 1994
Equivalent citations: AIR 1994 Guj 167, (1994) 2 GLR 1498
Author: B Kirpal

Bench: B Kirpal, R Abichandani
Read full Judgment here: Click here
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