John Beaumont, C.J.
1. This is a reference made by the Sessions Judge of Dhar-war raising a question as to the construction of Clause (f) of Section 61(2) of the Bombay District Police Act, 1890. The facts are not in dispute. The accused was charged with obstruction in that he gave a caste dinner in the street outside his residence, a thing which he had been in the habit of doing in years past without any objection being raised. But on this occasion some people desired to pass along the road and were obstructed by the diners. Both the lower Courts held, rightly, that the act of the accused amounted to obstruction, but the question is whether it amounted to an obstruction prohibited by the Bombay District Police Act. Section 61 (1)(f), provides that :
(f) causes obstruction in any street by allowing any animal or vehicle which has to be loaded or unloaded or to take up or set down passengers, to remain or stand therein longer than may be necessary for such purpose, or by leaving any vehicle standing or fastening any cattle therein, or using any part of a street as a halting-place for vehicles or cattle, or by leaving any box, bale, package or other thing whatsoever in or upon a street for an unreasonable length of time or contrary to any regulation made and published by the Magistrate of the district, by exposing anything for sale or setting out anything for sale in or upon any stall, booth, board, cask, basket or in any other way whatsoever causes obstruction,
is guilty of an offence.
2. There are three possible constructions of that sub-section, one of which appealed to the learned Magistrate, who tried the case, the second of which appealed to the learned Sessions Judge, who made the reference, and the third of which my learned brother and I think to be the right construction. The first construction is that the clause should be read in three parts. What is forbidden is, first, certain types of obstruction not covered by any regulation of the District Magistrate, secondly, certain types of obstruction which are contrary to any regulation made and published by the District Magistrate, and, thirdly, obstruction caused in any other way whatsoever. The obstruction caused by the accused can fall only under these general words, and on this reading of the section such obstruction need not be contrary to a regulation made and published by the District Magistrate. This is the view adopted by the trial Magistrate. The learned Sessions Judge considered that the clause should be read in two parts, the first part dealing with certain specified obstructions not covered by any regulation made by the Magistrate, and the second part dealing with matters which are only obstructions if contrary to a regulation made and published by the District Magistrate, and that the second category includes not only exposing anything for sale etc. but also obstruction falling within the general words. The learned Judge considered that as obstruction caused by giving a dinner party in a public street is not prohibited by any regulation made by the District Magistrate, it does not amount to obstruction prohibited by Sub-clause (f). The difficulty in the way of both these constructions is that they pre-suppose that the District Magistrate possesses powers which under the Act he does not possess. The construction adopted by the learned trial Magistrate pre-supposes that the District Magistrate has power to make and publish a regulation relating to exposing anything for sale, etc. in a public street, and the construction adopted by the learned Sessions Judge pre-suppeses that the District Magistrate possesses not only that power, but also power to sanction other forms of obstruction. But when one looks at Section 39, which authorises the District Magistrate to make various orders, the only sub-clause which seems to deal with the obstruction of public streets is Sub-Clause (g) which reads
prohibiting, except under such reasonable regulations as the Magistrate of the district may impose, the making of any excavation, the placing of building materials or other articles, or the fastening or detention of any horse or other animal in any street.
3. Placing of materials, or the leaving of a horse or other animal in a public street are some of the forms of obstruction covered by Section 61(1) (f).
4. The view which we are disposed to take, as to the construction of Section 61(1) (f), is to read the whole section in one part only, and not in two parts, or three parts. The first sentence deals with obstruction by allowing any animal or vehicle which is in the street for certain purposes to remain there longer than may be necessary for any such purpose. The second part of the section forbids certain forms of obstruction including those which may be covered by an order made by the District Magistrate under Section 39 (g) for an unreasonable length of time or contrary to any regulation made and published by the Magistrate of the District. That is to say the second branch prohibits ' leaving any vehicle standing or fastening any cattle therein, or using any part of a street as a halting place for vehicles or cattle, or by leaving any box, bale, package or other thing whatsoever in or upon a street for an unreasonable length of time or contrary to any regulation made and published by the Magistrate of the District.' The sentence referring to a regulation of the District Magistrate is part of the preceding sentence, and not of the sentence which follows, as the lower Courts considered. Then, on that construction, comes the third branch of the single clause which prohibits obstruction by exposing anything for sale or setting out anything for sale in or upon any stall, booth, board, cask, basket; and the fourth branch prohibits obstruction in any other way whatsoever. On that view of the matter a person is not entitled to obstruct a street by exposing things for sale in or upon any stall and so forth in the street, and that type of obstruction is prohibited apart from any regulation made by the District Magistrate. I cannot see any reason why a person should be allowed to obstruct a street by placing stalls in it unless the District Magistrate has prohibited such action under a power which he does not possess under the Act. It seems to me that the construction which we adopt presents no difficulty at all, and gives an intelligible meaning to the whole of the section. The only criticism which may be made upon the construction is that there is no disjunctive before the words ' by exposing anything for sale '. But the omission of the disjunctive is not really of much importance. It is quite grammatical to forbid acts (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e) or to forbid act (a), or act (b), or act (c), or act (d), or act (e), and it is not very ungrammatical to forbid act (a) or act (b) or act} (c) or act (d) or act 0). This is what it really comes to. The omission of one 'or' is not of much significance. In the result therefore we agree with the conclusion of the learned Magistrate that this obstruction comes within the general words. No doubt the general words must be read ejusdem generis with the words which have gone before, but obstruction of a street by inviting people to sit in it for a length of time seems to me of the same genus as obstructing it by leaving vehicles or animals or packages in the street. We therefore make no order on the reference.
N.J. Wadia, J.
5. I agree.