1. This is a reference made by the Sessions Judge of Belgaum for revision of an order of compensation passed under Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, against the Police Patil of Karoshi who had made a false report to the Police Sub-Inspector that the two accused had committed theft of certain logs of wood belonging to Government. Accused No. 1 is a medical practitioner of Karoshi and accused No. 2 is the Kulkarni of the village. They purchased a babul tree standing on the boundary of the field of one Krishna Zutale and had it cut into logs. The Police Patil saw the logs lying by the roadside, and thinking that some one had wrongly cut a roadside tree belonging to Government, he made a panchnama about the logs on January 21, 1943, and kept them under attachment. The two. accused came to know of this, and immediately sent an intimation to the Police Patil that they had purchased the tree from its owner Krishna Zutale, and that if he had attached the logs, he should give a receipt to them. The Patil sent a reply to them that he had made no panchanama nor attached the logs, and that they might remove them whenever they liked. Accordingly the accused had the logs removed, some to the front yard of accused No. 1 and some to the garden of accused No. 2. The Patil then made a report to the Police Sub-Inspector at Chikodi that the two accused had committed theft of logs cut from a Government tree and that he had received information from the village servant that they had been removed by the accused to their quarters. This information was sent as a report on a printed form, in which he had described himself as the complainant, the two accused as the culprits, and the offence committed as 'theft'. After investigation, a charge-sheet was sent against both the accused, and the Resident First Class Magistrate of Chikodi, who tried them, found the complaint false, frivolous and vexatious, and acquitted the accused. He then issued a notice to the Patil under Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code and ordered him to pay a compensation of Rs. 25 to each of the accused or in default to suffer simple imprisonment for thirty days. The learned Sessions Judge has found that the complaint of the Patil was false and frivolous and the order for payment of compensation is well-deserved. But being of opinion that Section 250 does not apply to a Police Patil reporting the commission of an offence to the Police Station in his official capacity, he has recommended that the order should be set aside.
2. Section 250 can be applied only when a case is 'instituted upon complaint or upon information given to a Police-officer or to a Magistrate.' In this case the Patil did not give any information to a Magistrate nor did he make a complaint which according to the definition given in Section 4(h) of the Criminal Procedure Code means-
the allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but it does not include the report of a police officer.
3. Here the case was started on a report to the police-station and the prosecution before the Magistrate was commenced on the report of the Police Sub-Inspector. It is obvious that although in the Magistrate's Court a case may be started upon a Police report, submitted under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, yet if the case was originally commenced on information given to a Police-officer, the informant may be ordered to pay compensation under Section 250, as held in Jagdami Pershad Singh v. Mahadeo Kandoo (1909) 11 Cr. L. J. 201. But the question raised by the learned Sessions Judge is whether the report given by a Police Patil to the Police Sub-Inspector can be regarded as 'information given to a Police officer', as contemplated by Section 250 and he says that it cannot be, in view of the rulings in Ramjeevan Koormi v. Durga Charan Sadhu Khan I.L.R.(1894) Cal. 979 and Queen-Empress v. Sakar Jan Mahomed I.L.R(1897) . 22 Bom. 934. In the former ease, a cartman was arrested by a Police constable for leaving his cart unattended in the bazaar and prosecuted. The cartman was acquitted and the constable was ordered to pay him compensation under Section 560 (corresponding to the present Section 250) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1882. It was held that that section did not apply to a case instituted on a police report or on information given by a police-officer. This was followed, without any discussion, in Queen-Empress v. Sakar Jan Mahomed. We respectfully think that the Calcutta case rightly emphasized the distinction between 'information' and 'report'. Section 250 should be read in conjunction with Section 190, with which it is closely associated, and when they are read together it is obvious that Section 250 will apply to information given by a police-officer if that information can come as a complaint under Clause (a) of Section 190(i), but not if it amounts to a report under Clause (a) of that sub-section. Although the Criminal Procedure Code does not contain a definition of 'Police report', it does indicate when the Police have to make a report. Sections 157, 168, 170 and 173 shew that a police-officer can make a report only in matters which can be investigated by the police, that is to say, in cases of cognizable offences. Under Section 155 a police-officer cannot investigate or submit a report about a non-cognizable offence without the order of a Magistrate. This distinction seems to have been lost sight of in Queen-Empress v. Bakar Jan Mahomed, in which a police constable had filed a complaint of an offence punishable under Section 160 of the Indian Penal Code, and though that offence was non-cognizable, the principle laid down in the Calcutta case was followed, and Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code was held not to be applicable as the constable's complaint was regarded as a police report. This was pointed out by a full bench of this Court in King-Emperor v. Sada 3 Bom. L.R. 586 where, Chandavarkar J. observed (p. 158) :
The Code has carefully specified the purposes for which and the occasions when the Police are empowered to make reports as to offences committed or threatened, and when they travel beyond them their reports cease to have the privilege conferred upon them by the Code and can only come within the definition of ' complaint', which is wide enough to include them.
4. The same principle applies to information given by one police-officer to another regarding a cognizable offence in the execution of his official duties. Section 168 requires that when any subordinate police-officer has made any investigation under Chapter XIV, he shall report the result of such investigation to the officer in charge of the police station. Such a report cannot be treated as 'information given to a police officer', for the purposes of Section 250.
5. Thus it may be taken as well settled, nor has it been challenged in this Court, that Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code does not apply to a case instituted on a police report or on information given by a Police-officer either to his superior, or to a Magistrate, regarding a cognizable offence. But it is contended that a Village Police Patil is not a Police-officer, such as is referred to in Section 250. There is no definition of a Police-officer in the Criminal Procedure Code. The appointment of the Police Patil is made under Section 5 of the Bombay Village Police Act, 1867, and Section 1 of that Act has adopted the definition of 'Police Officer' as that given in Section 3(6) of the Bombay District Police Act, 1890, namely any member of a police force appointed under that Act. But this restrictive definition given for the purpose of a local Act cannot be applied in interpreting Section 250.
6. The reason for exempting police-officers from the operation of Section 250 is that it is their duty to report cognizable offences to higher Police-officers and Magistrates, and they should not be hampered in the performance of that duty by the fear of action being taken against them under that section. That reason equally exists in the case of a Police Patil, since his duties under Sections 10 and 12 of the Bombay Village Police Act, 1867, are akin to those of the members of the District Police force. In Section 4 of that Act itself he is referred to as a village police-officer. For the purpose of Sections 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, he has been held to be a police-officer in Queen Empress v. Bhima I.L.R.(1892) 17 Bom. 485. To borrow the language of Chief Justice Sir Richard Garth (in Queen v. Hurribole Chander Ghose I.L.R.(1876) Cal. 207 although a Police Patil may not be called a member of the police force under the Bombay District Police Act, 1890, yet we consider that when considering the exemption from the operation of Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code, we think that the term 'police officer' should be construed 'not in its strict technical sense, but according to its more comprehensive and popular meaning' and a Police Patil is to be deemed to be an officer of the police quite as much as the members of the regular force. Hence the rule which is intended as a wholesome protection for a police-officer carrying .out the duty of reporting a cognizable offence must extend to a Police Patil performing the same duty imposed on him by the Village Police Act, 1867. If he makes, a deliberately false or malicious report, Section .9 of the Act provides penalties for him, and Section 9A makes him liable even for criminal prosecution.
7. We, therefore, accept the reference, and hold that a Village Police Patil making a false and frivolous or vexatious report, of a cognizable offence cannot be ordered to pay compensation under Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code to the person or persons reported against. We make the rule absolute and set aside the order passed under that section by the learned Magistrate. The amount of compensation, if recovered from the Police Patil, should be refunded to him. If it has been already paid to the accused, it should be recovered from them and returned to the Police Patil.