1. This is an appeal by the Government of Bombay against the acquittal of the opponent of an alleged contravention of an order made by the District Magistrate of Ahmednagar under the provisions of Section 2, Sub-section (1) (e), Bombay Public Security Measures Act, 1947. The order called upon the opponent, in the first instance, not to propagate at any meeting any opinion on the Government's scheme for the procurement of food grains; and then by another paragraph it called upon him to enter into a bond for Rs. 1,000 with two sureties for like amount for the due observance of the restrictions specified in the order.
2. It appears from the evidence that the opponent did not give any bond, whereupon he was prosecuted under the provisions of Section 2 (6), Bombay Public Security Measures Act. The opponent was convicted by the learned trial Magistrate; but in appeal the learned Sessions Judge, Ahmednagar, set aside the conviction. The only point which has been made before us is that, inasmuch as the opponent failed to give a bond, there was a contravention of the order within the meaning of those words as used in Section 2 (6), Bombay Public Security Measures Act. Now this is rather a startling proposition. Security is taken from a person, in order that he should observe the restrictions which are placed upon him. If there is a failure to give security, then, there is ample remedy with the executive authorities, whether they are the Provincial Government, or the District Magistrate, because an order could be passed directing under the provisions of Section 2 (1) (a) that the person concerned be detained. Ordinarily speaking therefore, there is no reason whatever why a provision should be made for punishing the failure to give security. As the learned Sessions Judge points out, sometimes it may be impossible for an accused person, whose activities are being restricted, to give security. The result of that may be that he may be detained under the Public Security Measures Act; but that is a different matter from saying that he should be visited with a conviction for failure to do what may not be in his power. We have no doubt that, if the legislature has used plain language indicting an intention that a man should be punished, not only because of his intentional disobedience of an order, but because of a failure to comply with an order like an order to furnish security, which order may be beyond his powers to comply with, we would have been obliged to give effect to those words. In this case, the words which the Legislature has used are 'If any parson contravenes any order made under this section.' Now if we look at Section 2 (1), we would bee that, apart from the order directing that he be detained, in which case there is nothing for the person who is to be detained to comply, there are several orders which the Provincial Government or the District Magistrate may make requiring a particular person to reside or remain in any particular area, or not to remain in the; area, or to notify his movements and so on and when the opening words of Section 2 (6) use the words 'contravenes the order', what is obviously meant is that, whenever a person who is directed to do something, which is necessary in the interests of public security, does not do it or whenever he is directed to abstain from doing something, which is objectionable, he does do it. The order passed under Section 2(1) may, under the provisions of Sub-section (2) of that section, require the parson in respect of whom an order under Section 2 (1) is made to enter into a bond; but that is only a subsidiary matter; and, in our view, there was no intention to punish the mere failure to give security as a contravention.
3. The learned Sessions Judge was also inclined to think that the provision under Section 2 (6) that, if a person has entered into a bond in pursuance of the provisions of Sub-section (2), his bond would be forfeited in case of a contravention, showed that the failure to give the bond by itself was not punishable. The learned Government Pleader, who appears on behalf of the Government, argues before us that what by Section 3 (6), the Legislature contemplated was that sometimes the Provincial Government or the District Magistrate may not make an order requiring the person, in respect of whom an order under Section 2 (1) is made to enter into a bond, with or without sureties. Now, it is optional with the Provincial Government or the District Magistrate to make an order calling upon the person proceeded against to enter into a bond or to give a surety, but that is clear from the word 'may' in Section 2, Sub-section (1), It was not necessary to use special words in Section 2, Sub-section (6), for that purpose. But we doubt if there is anything is the language of Section 2, Sub-section (6), against the contention advanced on behalf of the Crown; but, in any case, as I have already mentioned, the words 'contravenes an order made under the section' are capable of two Interpretations; one is that the contravention of what the order in substance asks a person to do or not to do; the other interpretation being that it includes the contravention of the order requiring the person to give security. In our view, for the reasons which we have mentioned above, the former is the interpretation which ought to be accepted.
4. The appeal must, therefore, be dismissed.