(1) This criminal revision application has been filed by the original accused No. 2. Accused No, 2, his father accused No. 1, and 5 other persons were tried by the Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Murud for offences of house trespass and lurking house trespass punishable under Ss. 448 and 454 of the Indian Penal Code. The learned Magistrate convicted accused Nos. 1 and 2 under S. 448 of the Indian Penal code, and sentenced each of them to pay a fine of Rs,. 125, and in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one month. The remaining accused were acquitted by learned Magistrate. Accused Nos. 1 and 2 went in appeal to the Sessions Court of Kolaba. Accused No. 1 died during the pendency of the appeal. The learned Sessions Judge of Kolaba, confirmed the order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial Magistrate and dismissed the appeal. From this order accused No. 2 has approached this Court in revision.
(2) The alleged trespass was in Municipal House No. 11-59 situate at Murud in Kolaba District. The facts found by the Courts below are that the complainant Prabhakar Ramchandra Karkhanis had been in possession of this house for a number of years. He was in occupation of the house when, he was staying at Murud, and after, he was transferred from Murud, his friend Bapu Bhagat managed out the property from him. Bapu Bhagat leased out the property to certain tenants and those tenants were paying rent at the rate of Rs. 15 per month. After the tenants left, the house was locked and the key of the lock was with Bapu Bhagat on behalf of the complainant. In the year 1939, the house stood in the name of accused No. 1, as its owner in the Municipal records. From the year 1942-43, however, the Municipal records show the complainant as the owner of the house. The complainant was paying the property tax to the Municipality in respect of the house, and even after the house remained locked, articles belonging to the complainant were admittedly in the house. While the complainant claimed to be the owner of the house, the contention of the accused No.2, is that the house was purchased by his grand-father in 1916 and that his father accused No. 1 was the owner of the house at the time of the alleged offence. On 4th November 1964, accused No. 1, gave a notice to the complainant's father, the complainant, and the complainant's brother, that they were merely licencees in the house, that their licence was terminated by the notice, that they should vacate the house within 4 days, and that the necessary legal steps would be taken if they failed to do so. On the day of the alleged offence, which took place on 27th November 1964 accused Nos. 1 and 2 along with some other persons went to the house with a view to break open the lock and effect an entry therein. Bapu Bhagat, who was looking after the house on behalf of the complainant, came to the spot and protested to the accused. But despite his protests accused Nos. 1 and 2 broke open the lock entered into the house, collected and put the articles belonging to the complainant in one room and sealed the room, and took possession of the house, Bapu Bhagat sent a telegram to the complainant of what had happened; whereupon the complainant went to Murud, made enquiries, and filed a complaint which resulted in the trial and conviction of accused Nos. 1 and 2 stated above.
(3) The defence of accused Nos. 1 and 2 was that they did not receive any reply to the notice dated 4th November 1964, that accused No. 2 went thereafter to Bombay and met the complainant's father, that the complainant's father told accused No, 2 to take possession of the house and keep the complainant's articles aside at one place and that therefore, the entry effected by accused Nos. 1 and 2 into the house did not constitute the offence of criminal trespass. Alternatively, it was contended on behalf of the accused that accused No. 1 was the owner of the house and that the alleged trespass of the accused did not amount to a criminal offence, as the accused acted in a bona fide assertion of their title to the house. In convicting accused Nos. 1 and 2 under S. 448 of the Indian Penal Code and in confirming their conviction, these defences were negatives by the learned Magistrate and the learned Sessions Judge, respectively.
(4) On behalf of the accused Mr. Karnik strenuously urged before me, that accused Nos. 1 and 2 had acted in bona fide assertion of their title to the house, and that their act amounted to a criminal trespass. In this connection, Mr.Karnik pointed out that, the complainant did not produce any sale-deed in respect of his claim to the ownership of the house, and that, although the accused also had not produced any sale-deed of the house, it was in evidence that the house stood in the name of the accused No.1, in the Municipal records in 1939, and there was also some evidence to the effect that the father of the complainant had been in the service of the accused. Mr. Karnik, argued that the above evidence was sufficient to establish that accused Nos. 1 and 2 had a bona fide claim to the title of the house and that the entry effected by them in the house in assertion of that right cannot amount to criminal trespass.
(5) I do not find it possible to accept these contentions of Mr. Karnik. It cannot be disputed that the house had been in the possession of the complainant for a number of years. The complainant used to occupy the house, and after, he was transferred from tenants. At the time of the alleged offence, the house was closed and locked, and the key of the lock was with the complainant's agent Bapu Bhagat. The house stood in the name of the complainant in the Municipal records for about 22 years prior to the date of the offence. The property tax of the house, was also being paid by the complainant. Now, it may be that despite these facts accused Nos. 1 and 2 might have believed bona fide that the title of the house still vested in them. The question, however, is whether they had any bona fide belief that they were entitled to effect an entry in the house. In the circumstances of the case, it is impossible to hold that any such belief was entertained by the accused. On the contrary, the accused must have known that they were not entitled to enter the house except by due process of law. there was no dispute in this case as to which party was in actual possession of the house. Since accused Nos. 1 and 2 were well aware that they had no right to effect an entry by breaking open the lock of the house, their action in effecting such an entry cannot be held to be in assertion of a bona fide claim. Accused Nos. 1 and 2, therefore, were rightly convicted under S. 448 of the Indian Penal Code.
(6) In support of his argument, Mr. Karnik placed reliance on the following wellknown passage from the Judgment of the Privy Council in Sinnasamy Selvanayagam v. The King (1951) 52 Cri LJ 173 (PC):
'Entry upon land, made under a bona fide claim of right, however ill-founded in law the claim may be does not become criminal merely because a foreseen consequence of the entry is annoyance to the occupant. To establish criminal trespass the prosecution must prove that the real or dominant intent of the entry was to commit an offence or to insult, intimidate or annoy the occupant, and that any claim of right was a mere cloak to cover the real intent, or at any rate constituted no more than a subsidiary intent.'
It is obvious from the above passage that the 'bona fide claim of right' which according to their Lordships prevents a trespass from being a criminal offence must be a claim with regard to the right to enter upon the land. It is the entry upon the land which must have been made in a bona fide claim of right in order that the entry may not amount to a criminal trespass. It follows that the defence of a bone fide claim of right is open only to a person who has a bona fide belief that he has a right to enter upon a land in question. In the present case the trespass of accused Nos. 1 and 2 would not have amounted to a criminal trespass if at the time when they effected an entry into the house they had believed bona fide that they were entitled to enter into the house. As stated by me above they did not have any such bona fide belief. On the contrary they must have been well aware that they were not entitled to enter into the house, except by due process of law.
(7) Reliance was also placed by Mr. Karnik on an observation of Mr. Justice Raju in Marotrao Ganpatrao v. The State 62 Bom LR 499: AIR 1960 Bom 481. There a finding of the trial Magistrate that there was no prima facie case of offence of criminal trespass under S. 447 of the I. P. Code was upheld by the learned Judge. The complainant in that case claimed to be the tenant of a certain land and the accused was a servant of the owner of the land. The accused had gone with bullocks and implements to the land and ploughed it in the absence of the complainant. The reason by which the trial Magistrate held that there was no prima facie case of an offence of criminal trespass was that the complainant was not the tenant of the land and was granted to the mere right of taking away the grass growing on the land. It is clear from the judgment of Mr. Justice Raju that, he concurred with the finding of the learned Magistrate. If the complainant was not a tenant of the land or if there was bona fide dispute as to whether, he was a tenant of the land, it would follow that the owner of the land or his servant ( the accused in the case) had a bona fide claim to enter upon the land and to plough it. thus the decision of Mr. Justice Raju is not at variance with the view which I am inclined to take in the present case. In his judgment, however, Mr. Justice Raju made the following observation on which reliance was placed by Mr. Karnik.
'The dominant intention of the landlord must have been to take possession of the field for his own pecuniary advantage and not to insult, intimidate or annoy the complainant.' In view of what I have stated about the ratio of the case, this observation of the learned Judge must be looked upon as obiter remark. If the learned Judge, intended to say that a person, who takes possession of immovable property for his own pecuniary advantage does not have the intention to insult, intimidate or annoy an occupant, and is therefore not guilty of criminal trespass, I am with respect, not in agreement with that view. In most cases of criminal trespass the motive of the trespasser is to secure some pecuniary advantage for himself. His action does not cease to be an offence on account of the selfishness of his motive. It is necessary in such cases to make a distinction between motive and intention. A trespasser may have the motive to secure a pecuniary advantage for himself and yet in the absence of a bona fide claim to possession of the property in question, his intention in effecting an entry into the property may be to insult, intimidate or annoy the occupant. In the present case, since, accused Nos. 1 and 2 had bona fide claim to the possession of the house, they must be held to have intended to annoy the complainant or the complainant's agent, who was looking after the house.
(8) The learned trial Magistrate had ordered in the present case that possession of the house should be restored to the complainant under S. 522 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Mr. Karnik argued that this order was not justified because the alleged offence of accused Nos. 1 and 2 was not attended by criminal force or show of force or criminal intimidation. The finding of the learned Magistrate, however, was that accused Nos. 1 and 2 effected an entry into the house by show of force against the complainant's agent Bapu Bhagat, and I do not see any reason to depart from that finding.
(9) In the result this revision application fails and is dismissed.
(10) Petition dismissed.