1. The Mizos have their own life-style and culture. They have a carefree and liberal way of living, and it has the sanction of their society. However, the liberal ways of social order is possible as they have a highly civilized and sophisticated custom and customary laws. They derive their force by long usage. These have been acted upon in practice from time immemorial with such invariability as to show that most of them have been acted upon in practice as to show that they have, by common consent ripened into governing rules of the Mizos. These rules maintain a status quo and act as brakes, checks and barricades and prevent them to misuse their social liberty and freedom. The liberal social order it possible to be kept within bounds by the village elders because they have the backing of a forceful custom and customary law honoured and respected by all of them. Even making love to a girl just for fun is punishable. Touching a woman in some sensitive parts of the body is punishable. In the recorded Mizo custom which may not be in the strict sense of the term customary law one wonders to find a highly sophisticated human behaviours. They depict a panorama of the social life of the Mizo. Respect, honour, dignity and reverence for women, ladies and girls are eloquent in the set of rules. One of such rules, recognised from time immemorial, is that to bring a false imputation to a married woman about
commission of adultery is punishable with fine. False imputation to a woman about illicit intercourse is also an offence punishable by the Village Courts. The social wrong is styled as 'Hmingchhiat man' which is more or less akin to what is known as 'defamation'. A Mizo making an allegation of adultery against a woman must establish the truth of the allegation. If it turns out to be false allegation, he is liable to be fined. The amount of punishment is undoubtedly too trivial i.e. Rs. 50/- only. This has been made a social wrong and punishable as such in view of the setting of the social order in Mizoram.
2. The petitioner has been fined for bringing false imputation against his wife, as a adulteress. His wife brought an allegation in the Court of the Additional Subordinate District Council Court, Aizawl, that the petitioner had made false allegation of adultery against her. The matter was enquired and tried by the Subordinate District Council Court who directed the petitioner to take back the complainant, Lalthankimi, within 10 days of the order. In default, it was ordered, she would be free to declare herself as a 'divorcee', with a direction that none of the couple should do anything which might affect the 'divorce'; the parties were prohibited from bringing down the reputation of the adversary. The husband-petitiones did not accept his wife but preferred an appeal to the Court of the District Council, Aizawl and in the memo of appeal he made imputation that Lalthankimi his wife had lived in adultery with one Zoramliana. The appeal was duly considered and the appellate Court held that the petitioner had committed customary wrong or offence of 'Hmingchhiat man' and directed the petitioner-husband to pay Rs. 50/- 'to the nearest male relative of Lalthankimi, according to the Mizo Customary Law'. Being aggrieved the husband has filed this application under Article 227 of the Constitution as there exists no remedy against such fines under any law for the time being in force.
3. Mr. B.' M. Goswami, counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner never brought any imputation for which the Court could have imposed the customary fine for the commission of social wrong or offence of 'Hmingchhiat man'. The offence or wrong of 'Hmingchhiat man' as defined in the Mizo Customary Laws framed by the District Council, Mizoram reads as follows:
'84. Hmingchhiat Man: (Defamation). Whoever either by words or by writing makes false imputation concerning another person thereby defaming that person, may be
punished with a fine. Imputation of a married woman as committing adultery. Imputation of a girl for having illicit intercourse With a man, imputation of any person as being a thief, witchcraft, posted with evil spirit, epilepsy and other false imputation that may lower the reputation of a person constitute the offence of defamation.'
4. We find from the records that the petitioner made allegations of adultery against his wife Lalthankimi. The Courts below found that the allegations were false and imposed the customary fine. The findings are conclusive and binding. There are materials in support of the findings. We see no ground to interfere with the concurrent findings of fact based on record.
5. The next contention is that the imputation of adultery if any was made at Dergaon and the Court at Aizawl bad no jurisdiction to try the action. The woman Lalthankimi was defamed not only at Dergaon but also at Aizawl. When the petitioner preferred fee appeal he alleged in the memorandum of appeal that his wife had 'lived an adulterous life with Zoramliana'. The Court of the first instance also found that on 20-5-73 the petitioner told to the reporters 'I myself accosed my wife as adulterous'. Mr. Goswami submits that the statement was made by the petitioner at Dergaon (Assam). We assume the same to be correct. It is beyond question that a person may make a defamatory statement at one place in consequence whereof a person may be defamed in another place, if the consequence follows in the second place. Be that as it may, the trial Court did not impose the fine but the appellate Court imposed it as the petitioner made tile imputation in writing in the memo of appeal presented to the Appellate Court at Aizawl, Mizoram, and an appeal is the continuation of the original law suit initiated In the trial Court. The District Council Court is an appellate authority. The case was transmitted to the appellate Court at the initiation of the petitioner. The appellate Court is governed by the principles of justice, equity and good conscience and is not governed by the technicalities of procedural laws. When the false allegations were renewed in the appellate Court, a new cause of action cropped up empowering the appellate Court to impose the penalty. The appellate Court has had the co-extensive power to impose the fine. Counsel for the petitioner has failed to show lack of jurisdiction of the appellate Court to impose the fine on the petitioner. Under the circumstances, we are constrained to hold that the appellate Court
had jurisdiction to try the case and impose the fine.
6. The Rule is wholesome. It is of universal application. Therefore, the fine imposed cannot be held to be illegal or unjustified. However, one thing strikes us as incompatible with the customary laws. The appellate Court has directed the payment of the fine to the nearst male relative of Lalthankimi allegedly 'in accordance with the Mizo Customary Law'. But we do not find in the Customary Law that the nearest male relative is entitled to receive the fine. In fact, the person who is 'defamed' should ordinarily be paid the amount. We do not find any justifiable reason to pay the amount to the nearest male relative of the person defamed. Therefore, we direct that the fine when realised shall be paid to Lalthankimi.
7. In the result, the application stands dismissed with modification noted above but we award no costs.