1. This is a reference to us by the District Magistrate, Surat. The two accused in this case who were allege! to be uuder the age of fifteen years were convicted of theft under Section 379, Indian Panal Code, by the First Class Magistrate of Chorasi. The learned Magistrate, acting under Section 563, Criminal Procedure Code, released the accused on their entering into a bond of Rs. 50 to be of good behaviour for two months. The Magistrate has referred the case to us saying that the learned Magistrate who tried the case had no juris-diction to do so because he is not one of those specially empowered under Section 29-B, Criminal Procedure Code.
2. Section 29-B, Criminal Procedure Code, lays down that any offence, other than one punishable with death or transporation for life, committed by any person who at the date when he appears or is brought before the Court is under the age of fifteen years may be tried by the class of Magistrates therein referred to including a Magistrate specially empowered by the Local Government to exercise the powers conferred by Section 8 (1), Reformatory Schools Act of 1897. It seems to me that the words 'may be tried' are permissive. No doubt, the word 'may' is sometimes construed as 'shall' but obviously its prima facie effect is merely permissive and not obligatory. It seems to me that under Section 29-B, Criminal Procedure Code, a Magistrate other than one of those particularly referred to in the section before whom an offender under the age of fifteen years is brought was intended to have a discretion. He may deal with the matter under the ordinary provisions of the Code or he may direct that the accused be dealt with under Section 29-B, Criminal Procedure Code, that is to say, be tried by one of the Magistrates specially empowered under the section But, in my view, he is not bound to deal with the case in that way. I think this reference was, therefore, unnecessary (though it was proper to raise the point) and no order need be made upon it.
3. Murphy, J.--I agree