(1) The State of Mysore has moved this Court under S. 439 Cr.P.C. To enhance the sentence imposed on the respondent in C. C. No. 103 of 1958 on the file of the Munsiff and First Class Magistrate, Mercara. In that case respondent has been convicted under section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 10/- in default to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a week.
(2) The accusation against the respondent is that he caused the death of Basamma by administering to her on 27-1-57 at Nandigunda Village, Coorg District, some powder containing glycoside in a rash and negligent manner and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 304-A I.P.C. The learned Magistrate paragraph to have convicted him on his plea of guilty. If the offence is brought home against the accused the sentence imposed in this case undoubtedly calls for interference. It is surprising that the learned Magistrate thought that a fine of Rs. 10/- would be an adequate sentence for the offence in question. The learned Magistrate has made a mockery of law and has held it up to ridicule.
(3) But Sri A. C. Nanjappa, the learned Counsel for the accused while not disputing that the sentence imposed is ridiculously lenient, urges that even if the entire evidence adduced against the accused is accepted as true, no case is made against his client. According to him the accused pleaded guilty only after he was assured of a lenient sentence. In other words the learned Magistrate is said to have bartered justice for disposal. If there is truth is this allegation, it is clearly reprehensible.
In recent times several cases have come to the notice of this Court where the sentence imposed had no proportion to the offence committed by the accused, particularly in cases where the accused are said to have pleaded guilty to the charge. I should like to make it clear that there is no room for horse trading in matters judicial and this Court looks with strong disfavour any deviation from judicial approach in disposing cases.
(4) Now turning to the merits of this case, it is seen that the learned Magistrate on perusing the records produced by the Police, framed a charge against the accused on 30-4-1958 under Section 304-A I.P.C. To this charge the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed a trial. After this plea three witnesses were examined on behalf of the prosecution. P.W. 1(Dr. N. Jayadeva) is the Medical officer who examined the deceased Basamma. He merely proves his medical certificate Ex. P-1 and the report of the Chemical Examiner which is marked as Ex, P-2. In this case the medical certificate is of no assistance.
It may be noticed that the stomach contents were not sent to the Chemical Examiner as they had been thrown away by P.W. 2(L. Basamma) the mother of the deceased. The Chemical Examiner did not find any poison in the liver, gall-bladder, spleen, kidney or in the intestines. During the course of investigation the Police appear to have seized a bottle containing herb power. The Chemical Examiner detected the presence of poisonous glycoside in that herb powder. The next witness examined is P.W. 2, who is the mother of the deceased.
She merely speaks to the fact that her daughter was ailing with stomach pain; the accused administered to her some powder and immediately after the powder was taken the deceased vomitted several times and died. She says that she threw away the vomitted materials. The third witness is the village patel (P.W. 3--Patel Basappa) who sent the first information report. He has no personal knowledge about the administering of the poision.
After the examination of these three witnesses, the learned Magistrate questioned the accused under Section 342 Cr.P.C. Earlier, the learned Magistrate had questioned the accused under Section 251(A) Cr.P.C. The material question is question No. 2. The accused was told that the report received by the police on 27-10-1957 showed that he had rashly and negligently administered poisonous power to Basamma, as a consequence of which she died. He was asked whether he had anything to say about the same.
In reply to this question the accused stated that the deceased and her relates came in search of him and took the medicine; he had given that medicine to several others; that medicine is administered for curing kai visha and on taking that medicine the ailing person would come out. But in the end he pleaded that he was wrong in giving that medicine and that he may be excused. After recording the above statement the learned Magistrate framed the charge under Section 304-A I.P.C. and examined the three prosecution witnesses. Later he examined the accused under Section 342 Cr.P.C. At that stage the accused pleaded guilty to the charge.
(5) It will be seen that the evidence adduced against the accused does not implicate him in the lease. There is no evidence to show from where and how the police seized the herb power sent to the Chemical Examiner. The Investigating Officer has not been examined in this case. There was no material before the trial Court to show that glycoside had been administered to the deceased. Further it is not shown that taking of glycoside by itself is fatal. If it is said that only a particular dose of glycoside poison is fatal, then there is no material to show what dosage was given to the deceased.
The statement of the accused when properly considered merely shows that he admitted the truth if the evidence adduced by the prosecution. But if the facts proved by the prosecution do not amount to an offence, then the plea of 'guilty' cannot preclude the accused from agitating in this Court, the correctness of his conviction. See In re U. R. Ramaswami, reported in : AIR1954Mad1020 and Niranjan Lall v. State reported in : AIR1954Cal82 .
(6) In the result, the accused is acquitted of the offence with which he is charged. The fine it paid will be refunded to him.
(7) Accused acquitted.