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GPA HOLDER AS AGENT CANNOT BECOME WITNESS OF HIS PRINCIPAL


It was found in Janki Vashdeo Bhojwani & Anr. Vs Indusind Bank Ltd. & Ors. AIR 2005 SC 439,( 2004 AIR SCW 7064) that the principle laid down in Shambhu Dutt Shastri case ( AIR 1998 Raj.185) is the correct view and which is as follows:- GPA can appear, plead and act on behalf of the party but he cannot become a witness on behalf of the party. He can only appear in his own capacity. No one can delegate the power to appear in witness box on behalf of himself. To appear in a witness box is altogether a different act. A GPA cannot be allowed to appear as a witness on behalf of the plaintiff in the capacity of the plaintiff. "The power of attorney holder does not have the personal knowledge of the matter of the appellants and, therefore, he can neither depose on his personal knowledge nor can he be cross-examined on those facts which are to the personal knowledge of the principal. If the power of attorney holder has rendered some "acts" in pursuance to power of attorney, he may depose for the principal in respect of such acts, but he cannot depose for the principal for the acts done by the principal and not by him. Similarly, he cannot depose for the principal in respect of the matter which only the principal can have a personal knowledge and in respect of which the principal is entitled to be cross-examined."

Man Kaur(Dead)By Lrs. vs Hartar Singh Sangha (2010) 10 SCC 512, We may now summarise for convenience, the position as to who should give evidence in regard to matters involving personal knowledge:
(a) An attorney holder who has signed the plaint and instituted the suit, but has no personal knowledge of the transaction can only give formal evidence about the validity of the power of attorney and the filing of the suit.
(b) If the attorney holder has done any act or handled any transactions, in pursuance of the power of attorney granted by the principal, he may be examined as a witness to prove those acts or transactions. If the attorney holder alone has personal knowledge of such acts and transactions and not the principal, the attorney holder shall be examined, if those acts and transactions have to be proved.
(c) The attorney holder cannot depose or give evidence in place of his principal for the acts done by the principal or transactions or dealings of the principal, of which principal alone has personal knowledge.
(d) Where the principal at no point of time had personally handled or dealt with or participated in the transaction and has no personal knowledge of the transaction, and where the entire transaction has been handled by an attorney holder, necessarily the attorney holder alone can give evidence in regard to the transaction. This frequently happens in case of principals carrying on business through authorized managers/attorney holders or persons residing abroad managing their affairs through their attorney holders.
(e) Where the entire transaction has been conducted through a particular attorney holder, the principal has to examine that attorney holder to prove the transaction, and not a different or subsequent attorney holder.

(f) Where different attorney holders had dealt with the matter at different stages of the transaction, if evidence has to be led as to what transpired at those different stages, all the attorney holders will have to be examined.

(g) Where the law requires or contemplated the plaintiff or other party to a proceeding, to establish or prove something with reference to his `state of mind' or `conduct', normally the person concerned alone has to give evidence and not an attorney holder. A landlord who seeks eviction of his tenant, on the ground of his `bona fide' need and a purchaser seeking specific performance who has to show his `readiness and willingness' fall under this category. There is however a recognized exception to this requirement. Where all the affairs of a party are completely managed, transacted and looked after by an attorney (who may happen to be a close family member), it may be possible to accept the evidence of such attorney even with reference to bona fides or `readiness and willingness'. Examples of such attorney holders are a husband/wife exclusively managing the affairs of his/her spouse, a son/daughter exclusively managing the affairs of an old and infirm parent, a father/mother exclusively managing the affairs of a son/daughter living abroad.

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