M.S. Nesargi, J.
1. In this appeal by the State it is prayed that the sentences imposed on the respondent (hereinafter referred to as the accused) by the J.M.F.C., Bailhongal, in C.C. No. 5/78, on accepting the plea of guilty given by the accused in the said case, be enhanced as sentences of nominal amounts of fine have been imposed on him.
2, The prosecution alleged that the accused had driven the tractor bearing registration No. 4756-57 at about 12 midnight between 6/7-11-1977 rashly and negligently near Yeragatti cross on Yeragatti-Gokak road and while so driving caused injuries to five persons and death of one Makthum Sab and as such he had committed the offences punishable under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code and also under Sections 89 and 116 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
3. The accused pleaded guilty when the substance of the accusation was read over to him, as the Magistrate tried the case as summons case. The substance of the accusation as put to the accused and the plea given by him to each one of the counts is as follows : (Original in Kannada transliterated. - Ed.)
Prashne number 1. :- Neenu Tarikhu 6-11-77 ne Nedivasa 24 gaute sumarakke Yaragatti cross hattira neenu nadesuttidda tractor No. MEL 4758-57 neddannu avichara va vatatsara tanadinda manavijeevakke apaya vaguvante nade-sida anta ninna mele aparadha Kalam 279 I.P.C. prakara phiryan ade ade karana minage shiksha yake vidhisabarada vidhisabarada ?
Uttara:- Nanu gunne kabool maduttene.
Prashne number 2 :- Neenu Sadara Tarikhu Velegeva va Sthaladathi mattu Sadara gadiyannu Vabichara tanadinda (avicharatanadinda) nadisi apaghata nadisi sakhidar Shej No. 3) Nagappa 4) Mandappa 5) Ajjappa 6) Bheemappa 7) Mahadeo ivarige sada dukhapat padisidi anta minnamele aparadha kalam 337 I.P.C. prakara phiryadiade ade. Karana minage Shikshe yake vidisa-barada ?
Uttar:- Nanu gunne kabool madut-tene.
Prashne number 3 :- Neenu sadana Tarikhu Velegeva Sadara gadiyannu nirlakshya tanadinda nadisi Muktumsa Davalsab Karnate Sakin Yaragatti cetna marana padisidi aut'a n'nna mele aparadha kalam 304-A I.P.C. prakara phiryadiade ade Karana ninage shikshe yake vidhisabarada vidhisabarada ?
Uttara :. Nanu gunne kabool.maduttene.
Prashne number 4 :- Neenu Sadara Tarikhu Velegeva va sthaladalli sadara gadiyannu atee vegadinda nadisidi anta ninna mele aparadha kalam 116 M.V. Act. prakara phiryadiade ade karana ninage yake shikshe vidhisabaradu
Uttara:- Nanu gunne Kabul maduttene.
Prashne number 5 : Neenu Sadara Tarikhu nelege sadara gadiyannu avichara tana dinda nadisi apaghata padisi sadara sangatiyanu sameepada P.S. kke tilisada hodi anta ninna male aparadha kalam 89 (b) read with 118 MV. Act. prakara phiryadiade ade karana ninage shikshe yake vidhisabarada ?
Uttara :- Nanu gunne kabool maduttene.
At the end of every question the Magistrate has asked as to why he (accused) should not be sentenced. The Magistrate has not asked whether he pleads guilty or has any defence to make. Section 251 Cr. P.C., 1973 reads as follows:
Substance of accusation to be stated - When in a summons-case the accused appears or is brought before the Magistrate, the particulars of the offence of which he is accused shall be stated to him. and he shall be asked whether he pleads guilty or has any defence to make, but it shall not be necessary to frame a formal charge.' The words 'whether he pleads guilty or has any defence to make' have been substituted for the words 'if he has any cause to show why he should not be convicted' appearing in the Cr. P.C., 1898. The way in which the Magistrate has asked the accused as to why sentence should not be imposed on him gives room to a person so asked to be under the impression that the Magistrate had already decided to convict him and no purpose would be served by stating that he wanted to defend the case. It is exactly in view of such a contingency that the wording appearing in the corresponding provision in the Cr. P.C., 1898 has been changed in Section 251 Cr. P.C., 1973.
4. The learned State Public Prosecutor pointed out that any error or omission or irregularity in a charge which necessarily includes accusation in a summons case would not by itself call for interference unless prejudice has been caused to the accused. There can be no two opinions about this proposition in view of Section 464 Cr. P.C., 1973. This proposition is based on the basic fact that the concerned accused has understood what the case of the prosecution was against him and what was the material that the prosecution intended to put before.the court in proof of its case against him. The order sheet maintained by the Magistrate shows that on 17-1-1978 the documents referred under Section 173 (5) Cr. P.C., 1973, were furnished to the accused and at the same time substance of the accusation was read over to the accused and the accused pleaded guilty. In view of this fact we are of opinion that the accused was not afforded sufficient opportunity to acquaint himself what the case of the prosecution was against him, understand the same and prepare himself either to claim that he wanted to defend or to decide to plead guilty. The accused has given the same answer to all the questions namely, 'Nanu gunne Kabool maduttene.' When translated into English, it means 'I admit the offence'. The way in which the accused has stated in his plea shows quite clearly that he has given his plea in a mechanical manner. Before accepting the plea of guilty is the bounden duty of the Magistrates to satisfy themselves that the concerned accused has understood the charge or the substance of the accusation against him and the concerned accused has after understanding the same pleaded guilty and also after realising the consequences that follow. The aforementioned facts and circumstances leave much for speculation as to whether the accused had under-stood what the prosecution case was against him and pleaded as narrated above realising what would be the consequence of his plea.
5. In view of the foregoing reasons, we hold that the Magistrate was not right in accepting the plea of guilty and acting on it to convict the accused. Hence, we set aside the convictions and sentences and remit the case to the trial court with a direction that the case be disposed of afresh, in. accordance with law. The Magistrate may as well bear in mind the provisions in Section 361 of the Code of Criminal Procedure while disposing of the case.