Decided on September 25,1992



S.K.Mookherjee, J. - (1.)The opposite party husband filed the above matrimonial suit for a decree for divorce substantially on the ground of cruelty inflicted by the petitioner-wife. The occupation of a flat at Board Street, allegedly belonging to the opposite party, by the petitioner-wife forcibly was pleaded as one of the several acts constituting cruelty. In course of trial to substantiate the denial of the said allegation, on behalf of the wife, a prayer was made and was allowed by the learned trial Judge, and the assets statement of the husband-opposite party were directed to be produced. The Chief Secretary caused production of the said asset statements of the husband-opposite party in a sealed cover through a competent person with a prayer claiming privilege on the ground of the said documents being confidential official communication.
(2.)On behalf of the wife-petitioner an objection was filed. The learned Judge by the impugned order accepted the claim of privilege in terms of section 124 of the Indian Evidence Act and decided to hold the documents in Court's custody for perusal if it became necessary at the time of argument.
(3.)We have heard Mr. Roy Chowdhury in support of the Revisional Application and Mr. A. P. Chatterjee on behalf of the husband-opposite party. Section 124 of the Indian Evidence Act had fallen for consideration of the Apex Court of the country in the case of State of Punjab v. Sodhi Sukhdev Singh reported in AIR 1961 Supreme Court 493 at 503 (paragraph 20) and the law relating to claim of privilege under the said section has been clearly settled. We propose to quote the relevant observations of the Supreme Court which stand as follows :-
"It is clear, and indeed it is not disputed, that in dealing with an objection against the production of document raised under section 124 of Court would have first to determine whether the communication in question has been made in official confidence. If the answer to the said question is in the negative then the document has to be produced; if the said answer is in the affirmative then it is for the officer concerned to decide whether the document should be disclosed or not."
In the case of S. P. Gupta v. Union of India reported in AIR 1982 Supreme Court, 149, the above ratio relating to section 124 of the Indian Evidence Act seems not to have been altered or disapproved as the documents, which for years had been recognized by law as entitled, in public interest, to be protected against disclosure and which protection was needed for proper functioning of the public service, were allowed to enjoy such exemption on the basis of Rajnarain's case reported in AIR 1975 Supreme Court 865.

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