1. I am surprised at the judgment which the learned Sessions Judge has permitted himself to deliver in this case. In the first place, it is not disputed that the applicant before me is a public official charged by Government in the public interest to preserve permanent records of the rights, and positions of parties and interest in land, in order that people may not be injured by false claims, and that there always may be a reliable record available for Courts of justice; and whether or not he bad any ulterior motive, nobody in this world can say, he did what he knew was wrong, and a breach of his duty to the Government-conduct which is constantly complained of in the case of patwaris, and which causes untold trouble to poor people who are compelled to lose their rights because of the uncertainty and difficulty of establishing clear evidence. To my mind any official, however humble, who deliberately tampers with official records and issues false copies, whatever his motives, deserves severe punishment, not merely for his own conduct, but as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to follow his example. In this case the Magistrate convicted the patwari, and according to the view of the Sessions Judge rightly convicted him, and sentenced him to two terms of one year each to run concurrently, in addition to a small fine, with two months additional imprisonment in lieu of the fine.
2. In my opinion, and I am always ready to overlook offences committed by persons who yield to sudden temptation for the first time and to take a lenient view of their conduct, in the case of a patwari found guilty of such conduct as this, a year's imprisonment is quite a reasonable sentence which no court ought to interfere with. The learned Judge has reduced it to three months. He has written a laboured judgment in portion of which I regret to find that be has rather gone out of his way to minimize the conduct of the patwari in issuing false copies. I do not stop to consider whether the Sessions Judge is right in that view or cot but I take the opinion which he has formed and has expressed in other parts of his judgment. He finds that when the Munsif's attention was called to discrepancy, and he, the Munsif, in the pursuance of his duty, rightly examined the patwari and his papers and reported the matter to the Collector, the patwari in the meantime interpolated another year in his copy of the khasra, and made a note that the khasra had been taken by the Munsif, and reported that the Government work of preparing annual records was suffering in consequence of the conduct of the Munsif.
3. The learned Sessions Judge says:
I am of opinion that in order to save himself he kept back the khasra of 1332 Fasli and has not produced it.
4. In other words the Sessions Judge is of opinion that in order to create greater difficulty, when his original conduct was complained of this man was degraded enough to alter his official documents and make an improper complaint against the Munsif, which he knew to be unfounded. To my mind that is a grave and gross aggravation of his offence, and compels me to reconsider the whole matter, which I do, and in the interests of justice I restore the original sentence passed by the Magistrate, and set aside the reduction of the Sessions Judge, which he had no business to make. If the appellant has any objection to raise to my order, he can appeal to the Local Government. He must surrender to his bail and serve out his sentence.
5. It is objected that I cannot restore the sentence. I am satisfied that I have power to restore the original sentence and even to enhance it when an accused applies under Section 439 The section clearly provides it. The rule about a two Judge Bench only applies where the Court issues notice, of its own motion, or on an application by some one else, to show cause why the sentence should not be enhanced. In this case the whole matter has been brought before me for revision by the accused himself, and I bold that I have power to restore the original sentence.