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Summon to produce documents or things (Section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Code) 

It is a very important section of law professional, whenever any documents or things are required for the purpose of proper investigation, Enquiry or Trail, it can be summoned to produce such thing or documents to those who have other than accused in the trial. No court can compel anyone to produce any documents or any evidence which will be used against him.

But anyone who other than accused can be asked to produce, for example, any incident occurred in front of your shop, your shop equipped with CCTV then you can be asked to produce recording.

So according to section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 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 proceedings 

By using the power of Section 91, the Officer in charge of a police station may issue a written order to a person to produce such documents or things which is in possession of that person, or which is under the supervision of him.

Or Court may summon to produce such documents or things which are in possession of that person, or which is under the supervision of him by using the power of Section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Section 91(2):  According to this section, the person whom against a summon issued to produce documents or things, if he arranges to provide such things or documents at given place & time as per summon instead of attending personally to produce, it would be considered that he has complied the summon. 

Section 91(3)(a): This is the exception of 91(1), if any documents or things are in the provision of Section 123 & 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, then section 91 does not apply upon that. It does not apply also to the Banker's Book Evidence Act 1891(13 of 1891)

Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act says none shall be permitted to produce unpublished official records related to any affairs of the state, only the head of the department can permit to provide such information if he thinks fit.

Section 124 of the Indian Evidence Act says as No public officer compel to provide information made to him in official confidence when considers that public interest would be suffered by disclosing such things or documents

Section 91(3)(b): It does not apply to a letter, postcard, telegram or other documents or any parcel or thing in the custody of the postal or telegram authority,    

if such letter and telegram are required to produce then, section 92 have provision.

Case Law

Shyamlal v State of Gujarat, AIR 1965 SC 1251 : (1965) 2 Cr LJ 256.

In this case clears the Section 91, on its true construction, does not apply to an accused person on trial. No Specific words indicate its application to accused persons on trial. A limitation should be put on the wide words used; otherwise calling upon an accused person to produce documents that are incriminating as against him will negate the safeguard of Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. It may be that this construction of section 91 would render section 93 useless. But to a search by the police officer under section 165, Article 20(3) has no application.

Lotan Bhoji v The State of Maharashtra, (1974) 77 Bom LR 70 : 1975 Cr LJ 1577

It was held that, the Court must be informed of the name of the person in whose possession or power the document is; otherwise as application for issue of summons cannot be entertained

Om Prakash Sharma v CBI, AIR 2000 SC 2335 : 2000 Cr LJ 3478 : (2000) 5 SCC 679 ;

It was held that the circumstances in which this power can be exercised depends upon facts of each case. The Court has a wide discretion in the manner. It is only when the discretion is exercised neither judiciously nor judicially and there is gross or improper failure to exercise the discretion which is demonstrably unreasonable, that the superior Court would interfere. On the facts of the case, it was held that the Supreme Court's interference with the rejection of the accused's application under section 91 for summoning certain documents for CBI was not called for.

Subbiah v Ramaswamy, 1970 Cr LJ 254 : AIR 1970 Mad 85 .

In this the word things were interpreted as, the word refers to a physical object or material and does not refer to an abstract thing.

Issuing a summons to a person for the purpose of taking his specimen signature or Handwriting cannot be said to be for the production of document or a thing contemplated under this section.

Re Lakhmidas, (1903) 5 Bom LR 980 .

In this case Hon’ble court held that, this section deals with documents forming the subject of a criminal offence as also with documents which are or can be used only as evidence in support of a prosecution.

HH The Nizam of Hyderabad v AM Jacob, (1891) ILR 19 Cal 52, 64; Pratt, (1920) 47 Cal 647 ;

It was held that, the thing called for must have some relation to, or connection with, the subject matter of the investigation or inquiry, or throw some light on the proceeding, or supply some link in the chain of evidence.7.

Bashir Hussein v Gulam Mohomed Ismail Peshimam, (1965) 67 Bom LR 748 : AIR 1966 Bom 253 ,

It was held that, When an application is made to a Court, or to a police officer under this section, the Court is bound to consider whether there is a prima facie case for supposing that the documents are relevant, i.e., whether books of a particular type are likely to have a bearing on the case. If the Court thinks they are, then it can order production. The Court may also consider whether the document etc. is being suppressed or may be tampered with or destroyed by the party in whose possession it is or may be entirely lost.8.

Bajrangi Gope v Emperor, (1911) ILR 38 Cal 304, 306; Sheonandan Prasad v Bihar, 1979 Cr LJ

In this case, Hon'ble Court held that this section does not refer to stolen articles or to any incriminating document or thing in the possession of an accused person. 

Jagadish Prasad Sharma v State of Bihar, 1988 Cr LJ 287 (Pat).

The powers of the Court under section 91 of the Code could not be enlarged even if the accused person consented to such an order because the powers of the Magistrate are limited by the provisions of the Code.

D Veeraih v K Veeraih, 1988 Cr LJ 274 (AP).V

When the matter is in the investigation stage either on a private complaint referred by a Court or on a case registered on a police complaint, the Court is not entitled to pass any order by issuing summons or warrant against the accused for the production of a document or a thing that is in his custody which is incriminatory against him.