RAGHUNATH RAI KUMAR Vs. B N KHANNA
LAWS(DLH)-1983-4-46
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
Decided on April 22,1983

RAGHUNATH RAI KUMAR Appellant
VERSUS
B.N.KHANNA Respondents


Cited Judgements :-

B.L. DALMIA VS. STATE OF HARYANA [LAWS(P&H)-1986-4-28] [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

M.L.Jain,J. - (1.)Respondent No. I B.N. Khanna is a partner of M.S. Serhoo Mal Jagdish Rai, Delhi. The said firm had an account at the Sunder Nagar Branch of the Union Bank of India (herein the Bank), where, at the relevant time, Miss Trilochan Banga was the Branch Manager. On 17-8-1982 or about B.N. Khanna filed a complaint against Miss Trilochan Banga in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate under section 500 I P.C., alleging that she called them cheats.
(2.)During the enquiry under section 202 Criminal Procedure Code . the said complainant made an application that the vigilance officer of the Bank be directed to produce the report of investigation in respect of the accounts of his firms M/S Serhoo Mal Jagdish Rai and M/s Saral Trading Co. conducted by Shri S.K.. Kataria. In answer to the summons Shri I.J. Mehta, a clerk and Shri H.K. Dham, Zonal Manager, appeared before the Magistrate. Shri Dham filed an affidavit on 7-1-1983 objecting to the production of the said vigilance report on the ground that it was a document privileged under section 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. However, on 10-1-1983, the Bank produced the report before the learned Magistrate. He initialled each page and adjourned the case to 29-1-1983, when the petitioner Shri Raghunath Rai Kumar, the Managing Director of the Bank filed an affidavit. He stated that the concerned firms had failed to honour their commitments under the letters of credit and undertakings executed by them and on one pretex.t or the other they evaded the payment of the documents retired by the Bank. What they wanted was to get hold of the goods imported by them under the aforesaid letters of credit without making payment to the Bank, Miss Banga objected to this attempt. Then the camplainant lodged various prosecutions making false allegations, while the Bank directed probe into the accounts of the firms. The Audit Cell of the Bank conducted investigation of their accounts. The report of such investigation is a communication made by an officer of the Bank in official confidence to another. The Managing Director claimed that public interest would suffer by disclosure of the said communication. This contention was rejected by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, by his order of 16-2-1983. He directed the disputed document to be placed on the file. The learned Magistrate was of the view that the Bank officers were not public officers within the meaning of section 124 of the Evidence Act and that the document is simply a report of investigation conducted by some officer of the Bank regarding the financial position of the complainant firms as the Bank doubted the integrity of the said firms when they failed to honour their promises. When the Bank has come to certain conclusions about the financial position of the complainant, there cannot be any secrecy in regard to the findings arrived at by the Bank. The affidavit did not disclose what public interest is going to be affected by the disclosure and it appeared to the learned Magistrate that the report was not of such a secret nature as the disclosure thereof can cause any injury to any public interest. Rather, such disclosure will be in public interest inasmuch as the public would come to know about the financial status of the complainant firms. Hence, this petition praying for quashing the said order of the learned Magistrate.
(3.)I have heard Shri Gupta and Shri Sethi. Let me start by reciting section 124 of the Evidence Act :
"124. Official Communications'. No public officer shall becompelled. to disclose communications made to him in official confidence when he considers that the public interest would suffer by the disclosure."

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