1. The accused has been convicted by the First Class Magistrate of Shahapur of an offence under Section 176, Indian Penal Code, and released after admonition as contemplated under Section 562(1A) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The accused is the head of a joint family. A daughter-in-law of his who resided with him in the family-house committed suicide by throwing herself into a well situated in the compound of the house. Under Section 45(1), Criminal Procedure Code, every owner or occupier of land has forthwith to communicate to the nearest Magistrate or to the officer in charge of the nearest police-station, whichever is the nearer, any information which he may possess respecting the occurrence of any sudden or unnatural death. The accused was convicted because he failed to give such information regarding the unnatural death of his daughter-in-law.
2. The accused must be regarded as the owner of the house and not the owner of the land within the meaning of Section 45 of the Criminal Procedure Code, In Queen-Empress v. Achutha I.L.R (1888) Mad. 92 it was held that the duty of giving such information is cast only on the owner of land, and is not to be extended to the owner of a house. It is clear that Section 45 of the Criminal Procedure Code is not intended to be punitive in itself, but to facilitate information as to the commission of an offence, and thereby to facilitate steps being taken in the investigation of the same. The section speaks of the owner or occupier of land, but not of a house. Where there are houses it is expected that the place would be populous and the police would somehow get the information, In oases of land in the mofussil there are not always enough policemen available in the locality. Hence it is necessary that the owner or occupier of the land should give such information to them Under the circumstances we are of opinion that Section 45 of the Criminal Procedure Code should not be extended so as to in-dude owners or occupiers of houses. We set aside the conviction.
3. I agree, For a conviction under Section 176 it must be shown that the accused is legally bound to give any notice or to furnish information on any subject to a public servant. In the present case there is no finding by the Magistrate that the accused was the occupier of land. It has been held by the Madras High Court in Queen-Empress v. Achutha I.L.R (1888) Mad. 92 that no obligation under Section 45 of the Criminal Procedure Code attaches to the occupant of a house in a village. The suicide of the accused's daughter-in-law amounts to an unnatural death within the meaning of Section 45(1)(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and, therefore, any person who falls within the definition in that section would be bound to give notice of it. But, in the absence of any distinct finding that the accused is the owner or occupier of land, or otherwise falls within the class of persona mentioned at the commencement of that section, Section 45 will have no application. I agree, therefore, that the conviction should be set aside.