Blair and Burkitt, JJ.
1. This case has been referred to a Divisional Bench upon the ground of the extreme probability that similar cases occur and are likely to occur with great frequency, and it is therefore important that there should be a clear decision of this Court upon the point at issue. The case comes before us upon a reference from the District Magistrate of Mussoorie, forwarded through the Sessions Judge of Saharanpur. It contains a recommendation that the proceedings in the Court below should be set aside as illegal.
2. The facts are that one Hira Lal lodged a complaint before a Bench of Honorary Magistrates at Mussoorie against Adam Khan and others, charging them with criminal breach of trust under Section 406 of the Indian Penal Code. The Bench after examining the complainant dismissed the complaint upon the ground that the matter complained of was one which ought to be tried in a Civil and not in a Criminal Court. At a later period the same Hira Lal preferred precisely the same complaint in the Court of another Magistrate, who thereupon took cognizance of it and issued warrants for the arrest of the accused. The warrants were executed. The accused were taken into custody, and remained there for a month before they were liberated by an order of a superior Court. It is upon the petition of the person so imprisoned that this reference, with the recommendation of the District Magistrate, has been forwarded to us. Mr. Dillon, who appears to support the recommendation, has cited to us two recent rulings of the High Court at Calcutta: one Nilratan Sen v. Jogesh Chundra Bhuttacharjee (1896) I.L.R. 23 Cal. 988, and the other Komal Chandra Pal v. Gourchand Audhikari (1897) I.L.R. 24 Cal. 286, which simply follows the ruling in the previous case. We have also been referred by Mr. Dillon to a recent unreported decision of this Court in Karim Bakhsh v. Adil Khan, decided by Mr. Justice Aikman on the 17th of June of the present year. The facts in the Calcutta cases are on all fours with those in the case which we have to decide. The rule laid down in those cases appears to us to be founded upon thoroughly satisfactory reasons. The facts in the case decided by our brother Aikman in no way resemble those in the Calcutta cases, and our brother Aikman's decision is not inconsistent with the rule laid down in them. On the other hand, we have had cited to us the case of Queen-Empress v. Puran (1886) I.L.R. 9 All. 85, and the case of Queen-Empress v. Umedan Weekly Notes, 1895, p. 86, in which it has been held that a Magistrate who has dismissed a complaint is not thereby precluded from himself entertaining again what is in substance the same complaint. That is the only authority upon which Mr, Durga Charan relies. It does not, in our opinion, conflict with the rulings either of the Calcutta Court or of our brother AIKMAN. We think it utterly contrary to sound principles that one Magistrate of co-ordinate jurisdiction should, in effect and substance deal with, as if it were an appeal or a matter for revision, a complaint which bad already been dismissed by a competent tribunal of co-ordinate authority. For these reasons, we accept the recommendation of the District Magistrate and set aside the proceedings pending in the Court below. We desire it to be distinctly understood that we decide nothing except the question actually raised by the facts in this case, which is, that when a competent tribunal has dismissed a complaint, another tribunal of exactly the same powers cannot re-open the same matter on a complaint made to it.