Section 91 of CrPC– Summons to produce document or other thing.-(1) Whenever any Court or any officer in charge of a police station considers that the production of any document or other thing is necessary or desirable for the purposes of any investigation, inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this Code by or before such Court or officer, such Court may issue a summons, or such officer a written order, to the person in whose possession or power such document or thing is believed to be, requiring him to attend and produce it, or to produce it, at the time and place stated in the summons or order.
- Any person required under this section merely to produce a document or other thing shall be deemed to have complied with the requisition if he causes such document or thing to be produced instead of attending personally to produce the same.
- Nothing in this section shall be deemed
(a) to affect Sections 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (l of 1872), or the Banker’s Books Evidence Act, 1891 (13 of 1891); or
(b) to apply to a letter, postcard, telegram or other document or any parcel or thing in the custody of the postal or telegraph authority.
It has been ruled that the Court before issuing a search warrant must have reasons to believe that the persons to whom summons under Section 91 has to issue would not produce the document. The Court further ruled that the expression “reasons to believe” would mean that there must be some justifiable ground for the court to form that Opinion.
Explanation– Summons to produce document or other thing
A question might arise whether a summons or an order under this section could be issued to an accused person. The language of the section is general and prima facie apt to include an accused person. But there are indications that the Legislature did not intend to include an accused person.
The words “attend and produce” are rather inept to cover the case of an accused person who is necessarily required to attend the court even otherwise. It would be an odd procedure for a court to issue a summons to an accused person present in court “to attend and produce” a document.
It would be still more odd for a public officer to issue a written order to an accused person in his custody to “attend and produce” a document.
Secondly, if Section 91 of Crpc is so construed as to include an accused person, such a construction is likely to lead to grave hardship for the accused and make investigation unfair to him.
Moreover, the section if construed so widely would be violative of Article 20(3) of the Constitution which embodies the principle of protection against compulsion of self-incrimination. For, that article has been construed to mean that an accused person cannot be compelled to disclose document which are incriminating and based on his knowledge.
Scope of Section 91
The language of Section 91 of Crpc is very wide. If it were to be taken literally, it might appear that anything whatever which is capable of being produced i.e., anything tangible and movable, might be ordered to be produced if the Court chose to consider its production necessary or desirable for the purposes of any proceeding before it.
But no such absolute discretion can be contemplated. It has been held that the magistrate does not have power to order production of money by way of converting it into a draft.
But it can summon production of documents for inquiry.The Court’s discretion must be exercised judicially.
The word “thing” referred to in the section is a physical object or material and does not refer to an abstract thing. It cannot be said that issuing of summons to a person for the purpose of taking his specimen signature or handwriting is for the production of any document or a thing within the meaning of Section 91 of Criminal Procedure Code..
It has been held that the Court has inherent jurisdiction to call upon a person present in the court to produce a document which is in his possession at the time, and it is in such cases unnecessary to insist on the strict compliance with the conditions of Section 91.
The Supreme Court has clarified that case diary is a document under “Section 91 of Crpc” and that it can be summoned by the court.
A person who has not been cited as a witness in the proceedings but appears in the court in pursuance of the summons under Section 91(1) does not thereby become a witness and therefore cannot be examined and cross examined by the court. Section 139 of the Evidence Act clearly provides that even if such a person produces the document he does not thereby become a witness by the mere production of the document.
If a person fails to comply with the summons without any reasonable excuse he will expose himself to the penal consequences contemplated by Section 349 of the Code. Further, intentional omission to produce a document as required by the section will also be punishable under Section 175 of IPC.
It is obvious that before a person is punished for failure to comply with the summons or order issued under the section. it will have been proved that the conditions for issuing the summons or order have been fulfilled and that the summons or order has been duly served on such person.
Clause (b) of sub-section (3) of Section 91 of Crpc provides that the section shall not apply to any document or thing in the custody of the postal or telegraph authorities.
Judgement Related to Section 91 of CrPC and Case laws
The courts, for all these reasons, have taken the view that Section 91, on its true construction, does not apply to an accused person. In V.S. Kuttan Pillai v. Ramakrishnan, the Supreme Court took note of the conflict between the observations in MR Sharma case8 as reconsidered in Kathi Kalu Oghad case and the one in the case of Shyamlal‘o. However as that case was not directly relatable to a summons issued under Section 91(1), it was not considered necessary to refer the matter to a larger Bench to resolve the conflict.
It has been ruled that merely because an order made by an Investigating officer to produce books of accounts and other things would cause inconvenience to the person from whom it is summoned, it could not be said that the order is beyond the purview of Section 91.
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This article is written with help of R.V Kelkar Criminal Procedure Code. The language is used is taken from book and is solely owned by the author.