1. The man for whom the two applicants stood sureties was to have been tried on the 24th. He was found dead on the 19th. No one knows the date of his death. But both Magistrates are of opinion that the cause was suicide. We see no reason to conclude that he must necessarily have died after the 19th. There is a medical affidavit to the contrary and the District Magistrate most certainly ought to have given careful attention to this point. But in any event we can find no sufficient ground for penalizing the sureties in a case of this kind. Even if the accused person had only committed suicide on the 19th or the 20th it is clear that he must have had that act in contemplation, and that was the only reason why he did not present himself for trial. To call in surety-bonds in circumstances of that kind appears to us to evidence a complete lack of discretion, and we think it might also tend to bring our administration on that point into general disrepute. Surely the object of these surety-bonds is as far as possible to ensure that the accused person shall not evade justice in the ordinary sense, that is to say, by flying the country or the jurisdiction of the Court.' But if he elects to die sooner than face his trial, that can hardly be a sufficient reason for forfeiting the surety-bonds, since that was an event which his sureties could not have had in contemplation and which is not of the kind which would impose upon them any moral obligation or responsibility to the Courts.
2. We think, therefore, that the order of the District Magistrate should be set aside and the amount of these bonds, if it has been recovered, should be refunded to the sureties.
3. I concur. On the proceedings as they are before us, what was known to the Court at the time that it made the order penalizing the sureties was that the accused person had died, and that the two sureties admitted that he had not died until after the 19th November. That was the date on which he ought to have appeared, but did not. The record does not suggest that these sureties had any personal knowledge whatever of the death of the accused. It was represented by a police officer that the accused had committed suicide. The sureties accepted that facts apparently and came to the conclusion that he must have committed suicide after the 19th. That, however, so far as I can see from the record, is pure conjecture. I should have thought, that being so, that if the Magistrate had contemplated exacting the penalty from these sureties, he would have at least taken the precaution of ascertaining or attempting to ascertain when it was that the accused had actually died. He did not do so. He acted on the admission of the sureties themselves who apparently had no personal knowledge whatever. That seems to me to be a very harsh proceeding on the Magistrate's part and one that I feel ought to have been corrected by the District Magistrate when the matter came before him. We have now corrected it.