1. This is a reference made to us by the Assistant Sessions Judge of Thana who found himself unable to accept the verdict of the Jury. The accused Budhankhan walad Mithekhan alias Nathu Inayatkhan was committed for trial on charges under Sections 414 and 75 of the Indian Penal Code. On the motion of the Public Prosecutor a charge under Section 411 was added in the Court of Session. The Jury by a majority acquitted the accused on the charge under Section 411, but by a majority of 4 to 1 they found him guilty under Section 414. It is because the Assistant Sessions Judge is unable to agree with the Jury that the charge under Section 414 is proved that this reference has been made. We do not understand the Assistant Sessions Judge to express any real dissent from the view which the Jury took of the effect of the evidence as to the matters of fact. We understand his reference to show that he doubted whether on the facts as stated by the prosecution witnesses a conviction can legally be had. We are unable to share that doubt.
2. The facts stated for the prosecution were mainly these : the accused arrived at Palghar Station about 4 o'clock in the morning from the Surat train and crossed over from the up-platform to the down-platform. He was found to be without a ticket, and was, therefore, directed to stay in the passengers' shed outside the Station until the morning when the Station Master would arrive and see into the matter. The witness Keshav, the Third Class Head Constable, enquired of the accused what things he had in his possession, and the accused showed him a few annas and a knife, and that was all that could be found in his possession. About an hour later the accused jumped over the railing of the passengers' shed and moved along towards the North. On being questioned as to where he was going he said that he wanted to drink water. The porter showed him the water-pipe towards the South, but the accused, as if bent on something other than drinking water, went on towards the North. His conduct excited suspicion specially when he was seen to be searching for something near the railway track. Questioned by Keshav as to what he was looking for, he said he was looking for a rupee which he had thrown away. It was obviously unlikely that a Pathan cooly in possession of only a few annas should throw away a whole rupee ; and the explanation naturally did not satisfy the mind of Keshav. Keshav called other men to his assistance, and they all searched about the railway line, pretending to assist the accused to recover what he had lost. Suddenly one of the searchers came upon two gold bangles, and cried out that he had found them. At that moment the accused took off his shoes and ran away. He was, however, pursued and captured and the discovery of the bangles was recorded in a properly executed Panchnama. The value of the bangles was Rs. 38. They were made of gold and were such as would be appropriate to children of the wealthier classes. They were obviously singular and inappropriate as part of the personal belongings of a poor Pathan cooly. This, indeed, was recognized by the accused himself, who throughout has laid no claim to be entitled to the bangles. His defence has been that he has no connection with them whatever.
3. We see no reason to distrust the evidence, of which the purport has been given above, and which rests upon witnesses against whom no motive for false statement can reasonably be assigned. It is noteworthy that the bangles were not casually dropped about the railway track, but were Sound carefully placed one on each side of the railway line. The inference is that they were so placed by the accused in the hope that, after he had been released in the matter of his travelling without a ticket, he could return to the spot and recover the ornaments from their place of concealment. His whole conduct appears to us conclusively to show that it was he who deposited the bangles by the railway line, and that he was conscious that he had no title to the property. That being so, we are unable to perceive the force of the Assistant Sessions Judge's objection that there is no affirmative evidence in the case to show from whom or in what circumstances the bangles became stolen property. It is clearly impossible to expect in all cases, including cases of petty losses, that the Police should be able to trace the owners of the property stolen; nor, we think, does Section 414 impose any such requirement on the prosecution. All that is needed is to show that the accused voluntarily assisted in concealing or disposing of property which he had reason to believe to be stolen property. Here the accused's own conduct from the beginning to the end clearly indicates that he had reason to believe, and did believe, that these ornaments were stolen property. It is, moreover, proved that he was in possession of the property : this consists of valuable gold ornaments of which accused would not ordinarily be in honest possession ; and he has declined to explain or justify his possession. Further, his actions in connection with the ornaments amounted to voluntarily assisting in concealing or disposing or making away with this property ; and we, therefore, agree with the majority of the Jury that the charge against him was proved.
4. The accused being thus convicted under Section 414, it will be necessary that he should be tried further under Section 75, Indian Penal Code, and an appropriate sentence passed having regard to the results of that trial. For this purpose we record a conviction under Section 414 and remand the case for further disposal to the Sessions Court.