1. This is a reference made to this Court by the learned Sessions Judge, Broach, for quashing the conviction of the two accused persons who have been convicted by the learned Joint Civil Judge, Junior Division and Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Broach of offences under Section 24(4), Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act. Accused No. 1 has also been convicted of the offence under Section 504, I.P.C.
2. The complainant in this case is a tenant of the ground floor of a building of which accused No. 2 is the landlady. Accused No. 1 is the husband of accused No. 2. It was the ease of the complainant that the two accused had cut off the electric connection of the complainant's premises on 16-6-1952 and the water supply of the complainant's premises on 17-6-1952.
When on 18-6-1952 the complainant went to protest, accused No. 1 abused him. The defence which the accused persons adopted at the trial was that the complainant never had got either water connection or electric connection.
3. The learned trial Magistrate went to the place and found that there were in the complainant's premises fittings which showed that there must have been formerly both a water-connection as well as electricity connection. Inasmuch as there was no water connection and the electricity connection at the time of the trial and inasmuch as the learned trial Magistrate found that the two connections were cut off by accused No. 2 occupying the complainant's storey he convicted the two accused persons.
The accused persons went to the learned Sessions Judge in revision, whereupon he came to the conclusion that there was sufficient cause for the accused to justify the cutting off of the water connection and the electricity connection. It appears that the southern wall of the building of accused No. 2 needed repairs. The learned Judge held that the Municipality had given, notice to accused No. 2 to repair the building and inasmuch as it was necessary to cut off the water connection and the electricity connection for repairing the wall, the learned Judge held that the prosecution had failed to prove that accused No. 2 had not got sufficient cause for cutting off of the water connection and the electricity connection.
So far as accused No. 1 is concerned, he said that in any case there was no evidence that accused No. 1 had abetted accused No. 2 in the commission of the offence. Finally he held that the abuse which was given by accused No. 1 was an ordinary abuse which did not fall within the purview of Section 504, I.P.C.
4. It appears to me however that the learned Sessions Judge has overlooked that the charge against the accused was not merely that they cut off water connection. The charge was that they withheld the supply of both water as well as electricity. Even upon the footing therefore that there was sufficient cause for temporarily cutting off from the premises of the complainant electricity and water, what the accused persons had to show was either that they had not withheld the supply of water and electricity afterwards or that there was sufficient cause for them not to connect the complainant's premises to the connections giving the building water and electricity.
The two accused persons have not done so. On the contrary the attitude which they adopted was that there was no water connection or electricity connection to the complainant's premises. It is not contended before me any more that the complainant's premises did not have either water connection or connection to the electricity installation. It is said however that both water and electricity had been restored to the complainant.
But Ex 10C upon which the learned Sessions Judge relied upon in this connection does not show anything more than that lees had been received for the purpose of sending a man to restore electricity connection to the building of accused No. 2. I shall take it for granted that subsequently the electricity connection of the building must have been restored. It does not follow therefrom that the complainant had got electricity and water. It has got to be remembered that the electric connection of the building appears to have been restored in September 1952.
The complainant had filed a complaint in this case originally in the year 1952; but that complaint was for some reason or other dismissed and the complainant filed a complaint again on 18-11-1953. It is exceedingly improbable that the complainant would have filed a complaint if electricity connection as well as water connection had been restored to him. But the matter docs not even rest there.
The learned trial Magistrate visited the premises of the complainant and found that even though the electric connection had been restored to the building of accused No. 2, so far as the complainant's premises are concerned electric fitting installation was not connected to the electric connection of the rest of the building. There is no reason whatever for not accepting this statement in the learned Magistrate's judgment. It does not appear to have been challenged subsequently in the application for revision.
On the other hand in the written statement which accused No. 1 filed and accused No. 2 adopted they specifically stated that the complainant's premises had never got any electric light and there was no electric light in them at the time when the written statement was given. Accused No. 2 has obviously therefore withheld the electric connection as well as the water connection from the complainant's premises and she was rightly convicted of the charge under Section 24(4), Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act. The sentence of fine of Rs. 75/- imposed upon her is not heavy.
5. So far as accused No. 1 is concerned there is no evidence of his having abetted withholding of water or electricity. His conviction for the offence under Section 24(4), Bombay Rent Act must therefore be set aside. So far as the conviction of accused No. 1 of the offence under Section 504 is concerned, it appears from the evidence that accused No. 1 gave abuse to the complainant involving aspersions on the chastity of his mother and sister. Such abuse does fall within Section 504. He was also therefore rightly convicted of the offence under Section 504.
6. I therefore set aside the conviction and the sentence passed upon accused No. 1 for the offence under Section 24(4), order that the fine if paid should be refunded but do not accept the reference in so far as it recommends the setting aside of the conviction of accused No. 2 for the offence under Section 24(4) or accused No. 1 for the offence under Section 504.
7. Reference partly accepted.