J.N. Datta, J.C.
1. The appellant Wareppam Babu Singh was convicted by the learned Special judge, Manipur, under Section 165A of the IPC and sentenced to undergo R. I. for a period of one year. He has preferred this appeal against that order.
2. The facts leading to his prosecution and conviction are simple and lie within a short compass. On 21-11-55, the appellant along with two women was caught on the border between Manipur and Assam at Jiribam smuggling rice, by constable Abdul Rashid (P.W. l). The constable was taking them along with the rice to the Police Station at Jiribam. On the way they stopped for a while near the shop of one Satish in the Bazar known as Kalibari Bazar and there the appellant is alleged to have offered Re. 1/- in change to the constable and to have requested him to let them and the rice go.
The incident was witnessed by Benoy Bhusan Shil (P.W. 2), who was In the shop of Satish. The constable took the money and taking the appellant and the women proceedied to the Thana. There he reported the matter to the Officer-In-charge (A Baruni Sharma P.W. 5) and after investigation the three accused were prosecuted. The learned Special Judge, convicted the appellant as stated, but acquitted the two women accused.
3. The defence was one of denial. After going through the evidence I am also inclined to agree with the view taken by the learned Special Judge. There was absolutely no reason either for the constable or for the eye-witness Benoy (P.W. 2) i to have falsely implicated the appellant. The very trend of the cross-examination conducted n behalf of the accused persons Shoos to show that there was some talk of bribe. But It is futile to say that the constable wanted more and on not being paid he trumped up this false case against the accused, or that the Officer-in-charge (P.W. 5) asked the constable to produce the money from big pocket, so that the accused persons may be falsely implicated.
Even in that case their purpose would have been served by prosecuting the accused for the breach of the Manipur Poodgrains (Movement)' Control Order. In fact the accused persons were prosecuted for that offence and were convicted. The only question therefore was, whether the constable and Benoy (P.W. 1 and P.W. 5) were truthful witnesses. It is true that there are some discrepancies between the versions given by them but they are of a minor nature and do not detract from the veracity of these witnesses.
The fact that the constable reported the matter no sooner he reached the Thana, and the evidence of Honu (P.W. 3) which shows that the party had stopped near the shop of Satish and some talk was going on between the appellans and the constable further lend corroboration to their evidence. I have therefore no hesitation in coming to the finding that It wqs established beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant offered Re. 1/- as bribe to the constable to let off the appellant and the other accused persons. He therefore clearly committed an offence punishable under Section 165A of the IPC
4. It was pointed out to me that Under 9. 4 of the Foodgrains Control Order, referred to above, a constable does not have the power to stop or search the accused persons and. though this may not affect the validity of the prosecution still that will have the natural effect of rendering the prosecution story most Improbable. I cannot agree, because in fact the constable caught & took the accused persons to the Thana and they were prosecuted and convicted of that offence also.
5. It was further contended that the whole prosecution was vitiated because the OfficerJn-charge investigated the offence before the permission of the A. D. M. to investigate it, necessary under Section 5-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, was obtained. That it was so, is borne out by the evidence given by the Officer-in-charge (P.W. 5).
6. Reliance was placed for this upon H.N. Rishbud v. State of Delhi : 1955CriLJ526 , but that case does not help the appellant in the circumstances present. It was laid down in that case that where cognizance is taken and the trial has proceeded to termination the in. validity of the investigation will not vitiate the result, unless miscarriage of Justice has been caused thereby. It was further observed by thfilr Lordships that when a breach of the mandatory provisions of Section 5-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act is brought to the notice of the trial Judge, at an early stage, he will have to consider the nature and extent of the violation involved and order re-investigation to the extent necessary by a competent officer. In the present case no such objection was taken before the Special Judge, nor has it been shown before me, how the appellant was prejudiced thereby.
7. Yet another defect pointed out was that this examination of the appellant by the trial Court under Section 342 was not proper or complete. In my opinion also that examination was not appropriate, though in the circumstances of the case it cannot be said to have caused any prejudice to the appellant nor was it shown how he was prejudiced in his defence thereby. In these circumstances it would not vitiate the trial, and would be only a curable irregularity. That is also the view that was taken in a recent case reported in Chikkarange Gowda v. State of Mys. : 1956CriLJ1365 , and the relevant head-note is reproduced below:
The compliance with the provisions ot Section 342 is not a mere idle formality. But even where the examination of the accused to enable him to explain the circumstances appearing against him is neither full nor very satisfactory, it does not vitiate the whole trial if no serious prejudice has been caused to the accused.
8. In the present case the question involved was simple and short, It was whether or not the appellant had offered Re. 1/- as brifae to the constable, and it is only too obvious that he was alive to it, otherwise he would not have given the answer that he gave, namely, that he had not offered any money to the constable, in reply to the solitary question of the Court which was: 'You have heard the evidence of the P.Ws. Do you want to say anything about their evidence?' The case reported in Bimbadhar Pradhan v. State of Orissa : 1956CriLJ831 was also brought to my notice, but that case does not lay down that It is enough if the only question put is, whether the accused wants to say anything about the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses.
The accused has to be asked about the other circumstances also that appear against him, and a careful reading of the said ruling would dis- close that the accused in that case had been questioned on the other relevant points and their Lordships expressed the view, they did on the contention that the evidence of P.W. 2 in that case should have bean specifically put to the appellant. It is necessary under Section 342 that the attention of the accused be drawn to the prose-cution evidence but that is one of the requirements of a proper examination, and not the only requirement. I need not dilate any further on the point which is clear from the language of Section 342, and has been well settled by a long series of judicial decisions.
9. Thug the conviction of the appellant was proper and what remains to be next considered is the question of sentence. I agree with the learned Special Judge that such crimes should be regarded as very grave. It follows, therefore, that such cases many of which never come to light cannot be lex off with a light punishment. It is the gravity of the offence, and not the amount of bribe that should be the correct criterion for determining the sentence to be awarded On a conviction. I cannot, therefore, see my way to interfere with the sentence, even though the appellant happens to be an old man.
10. The conviction and sentence passed on the appellant by the learned Special Judge are maintained, and this appeal is dismissed. The appellant shall surrender to his bail before the Special Judge, who shall take steps to commit the appellant to jail on a proper warrant to serve out his sentence.