1. This is an application in revision from the judgment of the Sessions Judge of Bareilly, dated 19th October 1943. The facts are that on 4th April 1943, Ramdayal chaukidar, who had previous instructions of the Station Officer and the Superintendent of Police of Bareilly to arrest Bhim Singh deserter, obtained information that Bhim Singh was harvesting his crop. He called upon two or three men for assistance and he arrested Bhim Singh, presumably by merely putting his hand on his shoulder and informing him that he was under arrest. The three accused Jangi Singh, Fateh Singh and Hori Singh, of whom only two are applicants in this Court, rushed at Eamdayal and the others and assaulted Ramdayal who managed to ward off their blows with his lathi. Bhim Singh disappeared during this fight and has apparently not been heard of since. The accused were sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment each under Sections 353 and 225, Penal Code, and a fine of Rs. 50 each under both sections. The learned Judge reduced the sentences of Fateh Singh and Hori but upheld their convictions.
2. The question for me to decide is whether a village chaukidar is a police officer within the meaning of Section 54, Criminal P.C. The learned Judge was impressed by the fact that a Full Bench decision of this Court to be found in Deokinandan v. Emperor : AIR1936All753 had held after carefully considering decisions on the point of many of the Indian High Courts that for the purposes of Section 25, Evidence Act, a chaukidar is a police officer. The learned Chief Justice considered that the matter was not without difficulty and agreed to this interpretation with some hesitation. There can be little doubt that at the time the Evidence Act was passed in 1872, a village chaukidar would not have been considered a police officer within the meaning of Section 25. But the status of the chaukidar has greatly improved during the last sixty years and the learned Judges of this Court took a more liberal interpretation of the word which at the same time was to the advantage of the accused. The learned Sessions Judge argued with great show of reason that it would be most unsatisfactory to define a police officer in the Evidence Act differently from a police officer in the Criminal Procedure Code. These anomalies, however, cannot altogether be eradicated and if the attention of the learned Judge had been drawn to two sentences of the judgment of the Hon'ble the Chief Justice, he would have realised that the village chaukidar was not intended to be considered a police officer within the meaning of the term as used in the Criminal Procedure Code.
It also appears that although the duties of the village watchman are like those of the other persons mentioned in Section 45, Criminal P.C., his powers also are in no sense wider than those conferred on such other persons. He is certainly not invested with other powers conferred upon a police officer by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
It must be held, therefore, that a chaukidar is not a police officer as defined in the Criminal Procedure Code, although as far as this province is concerned, a confession made to him by an accused is inadmissible under Section 25, Evidence Act. The accused, therefore, cannot be found guilty under Sections 358 and 225, Penal Code. That does not mean that they were entitled to assault Ramdayal. If Bhim Singh had been assaulted by Ramdayal, he might have been aid to be acting in self-defence, but the accused had no reason to interfere in this matter when Bhim Singh was not being subjected at this stage to any indignity or injury.
3. I, therefore, set aside the conviction of the accused under Section 225 altogether and order the fines, if paid, to be refunded. I alter their conviction under Section 353 to one under Section 352, Penal Code, and set aside the sentence of imprisonment. The fine of Rs. 50 each will remain; in default, two months' rigorous imprisonment each. Jangi Singh's and Pateh Singh's bail bonds are cancelled. This order will also apply to Hori Singh who has not made an application.