1. This is an application in revision. The applicant was the Police Patel of a village and has been convicted by the Sessions Judge on appeal under Section 217 of the Indian Penal Code, the learned Judge having set aside certain other convictions which had been recorded against the applicant by the trying Magistrate.
2. The facts underlying the application are these. A com. plaint was brought to the applicant in his capacity of Police Patel that an attempt had been made to commit rape on a girl. The applicant made some investigation and prepared a panchanama of the scene of the offence and arrested the two persons against whom the accusation was laid. He sent them with a report to the police station, but on the way the parties) with a view presumably to save the girl's reputation, came to a settlement and all returned to the village. The relatives of the girl, who were responsible for lodging the proceedings, informed the Patel that they had no desire to continue them and the Patel thereupon tore up the panchanama which he had made. It is in respect of this destruction of the panchanama that the Patel has been convicted under Section 217.
3. Admittedly the Patel is an old and illiterate man. It is, I think, clear from the record that in acting as he did act he was influenced by the impression which every illiterate Indian peasant would in such circumstances naturally have, viz. that the matter had been privately settled and that no person was thereafter exposed or obnoxious to legal punishment. In these circumstances I do not think it can be fairly said that the Patel knowingly disobeyed any direction of the law as to the way in which he should conduct himself or that he intended or knew it to be likely that by tearing up the panchanama he would save any person from legal punishment. I am satisfied that his belief was that the destruction of the panchanama would have no such effect, but that that effect had already 'been produced by the action of those who were interested in the prosecution. I am of opinion that the rule should be made absolute and the conviction reversed. The fine, if paid, will be re-funded.
4. I agree to the order proposed. I gather from what the Government Pleader said that he does not press the matter of sustaining the conviction, and the circumstances are very peculiar. The case is not one which can ever be used successfully as a precedent. Therefore I think it unnecessary to say more than that I agree that the conviction should be set aside.