1. The defendant in O. S No 61 of 1971 Sub-Court. Masulipatam is the appellant.
2. The respondents filed the suit against the appellant for recovery of a sum of RS. 10,000/- as general and special damages for malicious arrest, wrongful confinement and false imprisonment on the following allegations.
3. The plaintiffs are ryots of Penumalli village. The defendant's son Purushottam is the Sarpanch of the village and the plaintiffs belonged to the opposition party of the Gram Panchayat. The defendant owns a rice mill named Sri Venkateswara Rice Mill which is Installed in a thatched shed. The said mill caught fire and was burnt on the 10th July 1970 at about 1-00 p.m. On 11-7-1970 the defendant brought the Sub inspector and two constables and got the plaintiffs and two others arrested and taken hand-cuffed to Pedana Police Station and confined in the station lock up The defendant gave a report written by his son alleging that he saw the plaintiff in his mill promises instigating and aiding one Adapa Biksham to set fire to the mill. The plaintiffs were kept in the police Station lock up till 12-7-1970, At 4-00 PM on that day they were produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Bandar and got remanded to the judicial custody in Sub Jail Bandar. The plaintiffs moved for bail, but the defendant opposed the applicator and the bail was refused They were however released on bail on 21-7-1970 by orders of the Sessions Judge Krishna. Ultimately a charge sheet was laid only against Adapa Biksham an the plaintiffs were discharged and the bail bonds canceled. Thus the defendants caused the arrest and wrongful confinement and imprisonment maliciously and without any lawful excuse or justification. By reason thereof the daintifts suffered disgrace humiliation, physical discomfort and mental suffering The plaintiffs estimated me general damages for loss of reputation etc., at RS. 4,750/- for each of !he plaintiffs. Besides the. the plaintiffs suffered damage by loss of produce from the land due to delayed transplantation Is they were prevented from carrying on their agricultural operations due to their imprisonment The plaintiffs claimed RS. 500/- under this head, In all they claimed total damages of RS. 10.000/-.
4. The defendant stated in his written statement that after taking his food then he returned to his rice mill by about l-00 he as one Adapa Biksham rating fire to the engine shed or the mill and in a very short time the shed caught fire He saw Adapa Biksham running away along with the plaintiff and raised an alarm by the time the villagers came and the fire engine arrived the mill was reduced to ashes, After recovering from the shock he gave a report to the village Munsif as to what had happened and he forwarded the same to the police station at Pedana. The police after receiving the report instigated into the matter and arrested the plaintiffs along with others in the discharge of their duties. The defendant did not bring the Sub Inspector of Polirr and constables end was not responsible for getting the plaintiffs and others arrested. He was not instrumental getting things done by the police. He was not aware of the bail application moved by the plaintiffs. nor did he get it opposed. It is, therefore, false to say that the defendant caused the arrest of the plaintiffs or their wrongful confinement or false imprisonment. All that the defendant did was to give a report to the village Munsif of what he had seen and believed to be true. It is true that the plaintiffs belonged to the opposite party to the defendant's son of the Gram Panchayat. It is because of that they filed the suit to harass and cause loss to the defendant.
5. The Court below after considering the oral and documentary evidence in the case framed the necessary issues. It held on issue 1 that the plaintiffs were arrested on 12-7-1970 and were confined till 21-7-1970 on issues 2, 3 & 5, it held that there was no justification at all for the defendant to give a false report imploding the plaintiffs. The defendant and his sons went to Pedana on 11-7-70, brought the police to their village and got the plaintiffs arrested at 3-00 p.m. on that day. Thereafter the plaintiffs were under confinement till 21-7-1970 when they were released. The court below held that the arrest and imprisonment were caused by the defendant and the defendant failed to prove that there was lawful justification for him to give the report. The Court below also held that the plaintiff need not prove any wrongful intention, malice or negligence on the part of the defendant and it is for the defendant to establish that there is lawful justification for giving a report. The defendant was therefore liable for damages. On the quantum of damages, the court below held that the special damages by way of loss of introduce was not proved. The second plaintiff did not press his claim. The Court below found that in the circumstances awarding Rs.3,000/- as damages to the first plaintiff would be proper. It, therefore, decreed the suit for sum of
RS. 3,000/- in favour of the first plaintiff.
6. The defendant has preferred the appeal against the said judgment and decree of the court below.
7. The learned counsel for the appellant contended that all that the defendant did was to give a complaint to the Village Munsif who forwarded the same to the Police Station. The Police investigated into the matter and arrested the plaintiffs in the discharge of their duties. The defendant was in no way responsible or instrumental in getting the plaintiffs arrested or for wrongful confinement or imprisonment subsequently. On the other hand the plaintiffs' case is that the defendant falsely implicated them knowing full well that, they had nothing to do with the burning the defendant's mill. The defendant brought the Sub Inspector end two constables and got the plaintiffs arrested and taken to the Police Station and confined in the lock up. He further opposed the grant of bail.
8. The evidence on both sides may how be considered in order to decide which version is more acceptable. Ex. A-1 is the report given by the defendant to the Village Munsif. According to him he save that report at
3 p.m. sometime after the rice mill was burnt: whereas according to the plaintiffs it was given only on the it the after the plaintiffs were arrested and taken to the police Station. The first defendant as D.W. 1 deposed that the mill worked till 12 noon and he went home to take food. He saw Adapa Bikshamsetty set fire to an oil cloth and throwing that burning cloth on the mill. The plaintiffs were standing at a distance of about 20 yards and all the three persons ran away In the report to the Village Munsif Ex. A-1, however he stated that he found plaintiff and two others moving about behind his mill and after working the mill till 12 noon he went home to take food and returned to his mill. Thus, the version given in Ex. A-1 is quite different from what he deposed in Court. Again during the course of investigation he stated that he found both the plaintiffs in the mill premises before he went to take food and when he returned to the mill he found them running away from the scene of offence Vide Ex, A-23 and Ex. A-24. If really he gave the report on the 10th evening itself there was no reason why the Village Munsif should have forwarded the same to the police at Pedana on the 1lth night. It appears from the evidence that the defendant's son who is the Sarpanch was not in the village when the mill was burnt and returned only In the evening. It looks more probable that the report was given to the Village Munsif only after the return of the son. D.W. 2, the Sub Inspector in his evidence stated that he received the copy of the report, Ex. B-2 on 11-7-70 at 9-30 p.m. and registered the F.I.R. on that basis, Ex. B-3 being the copy of the F.I. R. D.W. 2 also admitted that the defendant accompanied the Village Munsif and he saw him an the day when the report was given to him Further, there is the evidence of P.W. 5 the Fire Officer a- Masulipatnam. He received the telephone message about the fire accident and reached the village at about 2-45 pm. He submitted a report. Ex. A-7 to the Sub Inspector. In that report he stated that careless smoking was supposed to be the cause of fire accident. In cross-examination he stated that the people who gathered there told him that the cause might be due to careless smoking. He also deposed that he had stated in the Sessions Court that he ascertained the cause from theson of the defendant. If really the defendant saw Biksham setting fire to the mill and also saw both the plaintiffs rurming away from the scene of offence he would have certainly told the Fire Officer about it as well as all the villagers who gathered at that time. The defendant has also not examined a single villager to depose to the fact that he told any one of them that he saw the plaintiffs running away from the scene of offence along with Biksham. The Court below after careful considera tion of the evidence came to the conclu sion that the defendant without any lustifrcation implicated the plaintiffs by stating in his report that he saw them running away from the scene of offence, having regard to the admitted enmity between the defendant's son and the plaintiffs due to election. I agree with the above finding of the court that the defendant had no justification at allto implicate the plaintiffs and the report contained in Ex A-1 that he sew the plaintiffs also running away from the scene of offencee was false.
9. The Court below held further that the defendant brought the Sub Inspector of Police to the village and got the plaintiffs arrested I am unable to see how this conclusion follows from the mere circumstance that the defendant gave a false report to theVillage Munsif implicating the plaintiffs The Court below also held that the police arrested the plaintiffs not on 12-7-1970 but on 11-7-1970 itself at 3 p,m. and took them away to the police station. No acceptable reason is given by the court below for arriving at this conclusion The Sub Inspector D.W. 2 stated that the F.I.R was registered on 11-7-1970. He went to the village on the same day. inspected the scene of offence and examined the first defendant on that night at the mill. Ex.A-2 is the copy oi the remand report in which it is stated that the plaintiffs were arrested on the 12th There is no reason for not accepting the evidence of D.W, 2 and holding that the plaintiffs were arrested on the 12th. D.W. 2 also stated that the defendant had nothing to do rrith his investigation and he did his duty as investigating officer and filed the charge-sheet He also stated that the investigation disclosed that only Adapa Biksham was involved in the offence and he laid the charge-sheet only against one person. No doubt he stated that the statement made by the defendant during investlgation was one of the factors that led to his arresting both the plaintiffs. But he denied that he arrested the plaintiffs and hand-cuffed them at the instance of the defendant, From his evidence which I have no reason not to accept, it is clear that he made his own investigation and arrested the plaintiffs in the discharge of his duties. It may be that the complaint given by the defendant and his further statement during the investigation might have been one at the factors in arresting the plaintiffs, But it is also seen that the Sub Inspec tor examined other witnesses also and he categorically stated that the arrest was not done at the instance of the defendant, but in the discharge of his duties. The plaintiffs and their aitnesses deposed that the defendant and his son brought D.W. 2 and two constables in a taxi on 11-7-1970 and got the plaintifh arrested on that day. I am not inclined to accept their evidence in preference to that of D. W. 2, P.W. 2 is the elder brother of the second plaintiff and P.W. 3 is the uncle of Adapa Biksham and hence they are interested. P.W.4 stated in his cross-examination that some people were present, but he cannot say their names. We did not the police as to why they were arresting
the plaintiffs. P.W. 6 admitted that filed a petition against the defendant' son that he misappropriated the funds of the Panchayat. I am therefore of the view that the plaintiffs were not able to prove that thev were arrested at the instance of the defendant who brought the Sub Inspector on 11-7-1970 to the village in a taxi. On the other hand I am inclined to agree with the evidence of D.W. 2 that he arrested the plaintiffs in the ordinary course of discharge of his duties cn l2-7-l970. though one of the factors that led him to malte the arrest was the complaint made bp the defendant and the statement given to him during the investigation. There is also no acceptable evidence that the defendant opposed the grant of bail.
10. On these facts the question for consideration is whether the defendant is liable for damages for malicious arrest and ialse imprisionment of the plaintiffs. The learned counsel for the appellant submitted that on the above facts found by me, the defendant would not be liable as he Rave only a complaint about the offence sn;l had no further part to play and the arrest was made by the Sub-Inspector in the course
of discharge of his duties. Sri Veerabhadrayya learned counsel for the respondents on the other hand contended that even an the facts found above, the defendant would be liable as he gave false report implicating the plaintiffs and it is not necessan. that he should have taken any further part in the arrest of the plaintiffs as the said arrest mas the direct and logical consequence of the false report given by the defendant.
11. In Gaya Parsad v. Bhagat Singh (1908) 35 Ind App 189 IPCI it was held by the Privy Council that in an action for damages for malicious prosecution, where the defendant has given to the police a report rphich is false to his knowledge, and results in a prosecution by them, and has taken principal part in the conduct of the case both before the police and the Magistrate the remedy provided by this form of action is available to an innocent plaintiff aggrieved by ' unfounded charge, In Periya Goundan v. Kuppa Goundan AIR 1919 Mad 229, where upon a report to a Village Munsif, the Police after Investigation launched a prosecution against certain persons, and it turned out that the communication to the Munsif was false and the persons were acquitted, the person who made tire report was held liable, in an action for damages for malicious prosecution. Itis no answer to such a suit and would make no difference to the defendant's liability for damages that the prosffution was instituted and conducted by the police, as the person primarily responsible for the prosecution is the person who furnished the false infermation. The same view was taken in Venkatappayya v. Ramakristnamma AIR 1932 Mad 53, where it was observed that though technically it is the Crown that is the prosecutor in a criminal case, not only is, the individual who sets the law in motion is also liable (sie). In that case it was observed that the whole conduct of the party must be taken into ocnsideration and the question must be determined as a question of fact in each case. In Chandra Reddy v. Rami Reddy AIR 1955 Andhra 218.it was held that if a person does nothing beyond giving information to the police which he considers to be true, an action for damages for malidous prosecution is not maintainable against him. If on the other band besides setting the law in motion he takes an active part in the conduct of the prosecution he will be regarded as the real prosecutor although the actual prosecution is by the police .in Lakshmojirao v. Venkatappaiah : AIR1966AP292 , the same principle was reiterated. It was however observed that merely shoning that the complainaat knew that the complaint made by him was false would not be sufficient to make him liable for damages. In order to dr the liability on him. the further facts that he influenced the police to assist him in sending an innocent man for trial and that he misled the police by bringing suborned raitnesses, have to be proved. On the strength of these authorities it was argued by the appellant that it is not sufficient to prove that the defendant had merely made a complaint.It was further necessary to prove that he assisted and misled the police or influenced them in arresting the plaintiffs and as in this case as the defendant had merely given a complaint , even though it might have been false , and did not do anything further in the matter of arrest or imprisonment by the police, he would not be liable for malicious arrest or false imprisonment.
12. It is, however, seen that all the above cases are cases dealing with malicious prosecution. In the case of the tort of malicious arrest or false imprisonment, it is not necessary for the plaintiff to prove malice or negligence on the part oi the defendant. It is sufficient if he proves that false imprisonment was caused by the defendant and if the defendant cannot establish sufficient justification he would be Liable. In Lalta v. Asharfi Lal AIR 1948 Oudh 135, it was held that in order to succeed in a suit for damages for wrongful arrest and detention it is not necessary for the plaintiff to prove malice and want of reasonable and probable cause on the part of the defendant in causing his wrongful arrest and detention.In Onkarmal v. Banwarilal . it was held that if A gets a police officer to arrest B or put him under wrongful confinement and the palice officer acts more or less as a ministerial agent of A, the latter cannot escape his liability in an action for false imprisonment. It is for the defendant to pnme that there was lawful lustification for such detention. It is entirely unnecessary for the plaintiff to prove malice or improper motive.
13. Sri .Veerabhadrayya went to the extent of submitting that the moment the plaintiff proves that he was arrested or detained at the instance of the defendant, the defendant would be liable and the issue as to whether in arresting or causing arrest of the plaintiff the defendant has justification in so doing is immaterial, I am hofferer uaable to accept this extreme contention. I do not read the decision in GouriPrasad v. Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China AIR 1925 Cal 884, as laying down the principle that even if there is no justification for a person to implicate another and he makes a complaint, and as a result of such complaint, arrest is made he would not liable for malicious arrest and wrongful confinement. The ultimate question is whether the defendant has justification for causing the arrest. If he has made a false report on the strength of which the arrest was made it cannot be held that there was justification for the arrest even though he did not take any actftre part in the arrest of the person concerned. In this case, but for the false report the police would not have arrested the plaintiffs. It is no doubt true that the police made thereon an investigation, but the result was the direct consequence of the false report given by the defendant. I am, therefore, of the view that the Court below was right in holding that the defendant was liable for damages for the arrest and the consequent detention in lock up of the police,
14, The Court below has awarded RS. 3,000/- as damages to the first plaintiff. In my view the damages awarded is excessive. I have already held that the case of plaintiffs that the defendant opposed grant of bail has not been made out. The subsequent detention after the plaintiffs were produced before the Magistrate an 12-7-1970 is only because of the order of the Magistrate and cannot in any way be attributed to the defendant Though in the complaint damages for loss of reputation etc, was estimated at RS. 4.750/- for each of the plaintiffs, in his evidence he stated that he claimed only RS. 3,000/- towards loss of crops and RS. 2,000/- towards loss of prestige and mental worry. The Court below has negatived the claim for damages for loss of craps. When the plaintiff himself estimated the loss for mental worry at RS. 2,000/- in his evidence, I fail to see how the Court could award Rs.3,000/-as damages. Having regard to all the circumstances of the case I am of the view that the ends of justice would be met if the quantum of damages is fixed at RS. 1.000/-.
15. The appeal is accordingly allowed to the extent stated above. There will be no order as to costs in the appeal.
16. The suit is decreed for RS. 1,000/- with proportionate costs.
17. Order accordingly.