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Ledger In Itself Does Not Have Evidentiary Value Under S.34 Of Evidence Act Unless Corroborated By Other Evidence: Gujarat High Court

PRIYANKA PREET
2 Feb 2022 3:57 PM GMT
Ledger In Itself Does Not Have Evidentiary Value Under S.34 Of Evidence Act Unless Corroborated By Other Evidence: Gujarat High Court
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Although S.34 of the Evidence Act does not require a specific form of corroborative evidence, under it, a ledger by itself does not have evidentiary value unless corroborated by independent entries like roznama (Daily cash entries) or any witness or even orally by the power of attorney, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, Gujarat High Court has held. The...

Although S.34 of the Evidence Act does not require a specific form of corroborative evidence, under it, a ledger by itself does not have evidentiary value unless corroborated by independent entries like roznama (Daily cash entries) or any witness or even orally by the power of attorney, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, Gujarat High Court has held.

The Bench comprising Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Niral R Mehta while admitting the appeal of the Plaintiff-Appellant ('Plaintiff') has observed that the ledger does not have any evidentiary value on its own under S.34 of Evidence Act unless it is corroborated by daily cash book entries/roznama. However, in the present case, since the suit proceeded ex-parte and the Plaintiff had produced other evidence duly stamped and signed which went unopposed by the Respondent and that Plaintiff's power of attorney had provided oral evidence substantiating the ledger, the Plaintiff was entitled to recover money from the Respondent.

Background

The first appeal emanated from an unsuccessful suit for the recovery of money by Plaintiff. It was Plaintiff's case that there was a commercial transaction of sale and purchase between the Plaintiff and the Respondent-Defendant where the Respondent purchased papers from the Plaintiff at INR 42,31,167 out of which only INR 12, 64,950 was paid.

Plaintiff thus instituted a suit against the Respondent for the remaining sum. The suit proceeded ex-parte since the Respondent did not appear. The questions before the Trial Court were:

(1) Whether the plaintiff proves that the defendant has purchased the Ambesize 15 of Rs.42,31,167/- from the plaintiff?

(2) whether the plaintiff proves that the Rs.29,36,211/- is legal and recoverable debt from the Defendants?

(3) Whether the plaintiff is entitled to get interest? If yes, at what rate?

(4) Whether the plaintiff is entitled to get reliefs as prayed?

(5) what order and decree?

The Trial Court answered all questions in negative on the grounds that the Plaintiff was unable to prove that a valid demand notice had been served to the Respondent before the institution of the suit and that no independent witness could be produced to prove the contents and genuineness of the invoices and delivery challans.

Furthermore, Plaintiff also failed to specify the method of payment of INR 12,64,950 and the calculations pertaining to the overdue. Lastly, no clarification was provided regarding the knowledge of power of attorney pertaining to various transactions.

The Petitioner contended that the Trial Court erred in applying the principles of law as laid down in Ajay Kiritkant Ghelani and others vs. Mathureshnagar Co-Operative 2008(1) GLR 213 and thus filed the present appeal under S.96 of CPC, 1908.

Judgement

The Bench identified that the primary question requiring attention was whether the Trial Court erred in dismissing the suit instituted by the Plaintiff despite there being no denial/rebuttal of evidence by the Respondent. To address this, the Bench referred to Sections 34, 59, 61 and 62 of the Evidence Act and Order VIII Rules 1,3,4 and 5 and Order XII (2-A) of CPC.

Noting the respondent's absence before the trial court and the pleadings remaining uncontested, the court stated that the suit of recovery dues on the basis of documentary evidence of delivery challan, invoices and ledger account, remained undisputed by the respondent.

Referring to the Assam High Court's judgment in Chandi Ram vs. Jamind Kanta Deka AIR 1952 Assam 92 which held that ledgers not supported by roznama would not fulfil the requirements of S.34 of Evidence Act and the Nagpur High Court judgment in Beni vs. Bisan Dayal AIR 1925 Nag. 445, which held that the entries in the books of account by itself are not sufficient to hold a person liable unless the same is corroborated by independent evidence, the High Court held that just the entries contained in the ledger of the firm could not be brought within the ambit of S.34.

The Court then noted that the Power of attorney of Plaintiff had submitted oral evidence as corroboration of the contents contained in the ledger and the Respondent had not disputed Plaintiff's statement that goods in the form of papers were supplied by Plaintiff for which part payment was made.

Thus, the Court averred that there was sufficient corroboration about the entries in the ledger. This was in consonance with the Balmukand vs. Jagan Nath AIR 1963 Raj. 212 where it was held that Section 34 of the Evidence Act does not require any particular form of corroborative evidence.

Another infirmity that the Bench observed in Trial Court's judgment was that the Plaintiff had failed to prove any demand notice for demanding the requisite amount from the Respondent. Regarding this, the Bench stated that "there is no such law that obliges the Plaintiff to issue a demand notice first and only thereafter, institute a suit for recovery of money."

Moreover, Plaintiff had presented the copies of the invoices and delivery challans duly stamped and signed by the Respondent which were undisputed by the respondent and thus, the Court iterated that Plaintiff had discharged the initial burden of proof and it was up to the Respondent to rebut it.

Additionally, the High Court noted that even the question pertaining to the knowledge acquired by the Power of Attorney Holder regarding the transactions went without rebuttal and it was up to the Respondent to cross-examine him.

Accordingly, the Bench admitted Plaintiff's appeal for the aforementioned reasons and ordered the Respondent to pay INR 29,36,211 with running interest @6% per annum from the date of the institution of the suit.

Case Title: Jay Ambe Industries Proprietor Shri Dinesh Kumar Bajranglal Somani Versus Garnet Specialty Paper Ltd.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 18

Case No.: C/FA/5228/2019

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment


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