D.P. Uniyal, J.
1. This is an appeal by the complainant against an Order of acquittal.
2. Briefly stated, the facts which have given rise to this appeal are these. Raghunandan Lal, respondent No. 2, filed a suit against Kishan Swarup appellant and his uncle for recovery of a sum of money before the Nyaya Panchayat of Nagla Singh in the district of Agra. It appears from the order sheet of the Nyaya Panchayat at the suit was dismissed for default of the parties on the 28th September 1955. The order sheet was signed by respondent No. 1 who wag Sarpanch of the, Nyaya Panchayat at that time.
It appears that an application for execution of the. decree was made before the Nyaya Panchayat by respondent No, 2 and thereupon on 'he 25th February 1956 respondent No. 1 issued a notice to complainant and his uncle demanding the payment of the decretal amount within fifteen days. The amount not having been deposited within the time allowed a formal decree was prepared on the 10th March 1956 and was duly signed by respondent No. 1 as the Saipandb of the Nyaya Panchayat, In pursuance of the decree dated the ,10th March. 1956 a certificate of non-satisfaction was issued to respondent No. 2 on the 10th March 1956 and the application for execution of the decree was transmitted to the court of the Munsif for execution.
Subsequently respondent No. 2 filed a fresh application for execution in the court of the Munsif and thereupon certain property of the judgment-debtor was attached; It is alleged by the complainant-appellant that he came to know-about the existence of the decree against him when his property was attached by order of the court of the Munsif. He filed objections before the Munsif in respect of that attachment. The decree-holder, respondent No. 2, appeared in answer to the summons of the court and made a statement that he was not prepared to press-the application for execution and that the application may be dismissed. Accordingly on the 19th July 1958 the execution was struck off and the application for execution was dismissed with costs.
3. The appellant then filed a complaint of the 16th December 1958 under Secs. 218 and 219 I. P. C read with Section 109 I P C against the two respondents in the court of the Magistrate 1st Class. Agra. He alleged that respondent No. 1, who was the Sarpanch of the Nyaya Panchayat Nagla Singh, had got a false suit filed by respondent No. 2 and a fraudulent decree prepared against him. He further alleged that respondent No. 2 had applied for execution of the decree knowing that the same was fraudulent. He therefore, prayed that the two respondents may be prosecuted and punished for the offences under Sees. 218 and 219 IPC
4. The learned Magistrate framed a charge Under Section 219 J. P, C. against respondent No. 1 and a charge under Section 219 read with Section 109 IPC against respondent No, 2 and committed both the accused to stand their trial before the court of sessions on the 11th June 1959.
5. When the case came up for trial before the learned Assistant Sessions Judge, Agra, he struck off the charges framed by the Magistrate and substituted new and fresh charge under Sees. 218 and 210 IPC against respondents Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
6. Two objections were made before the learned Sessions Judge on behalf of the accused-The first objection was that the respondent No. 2 Raghunandan Lai could, not be prosecuted Under Section 210 I P. C. without a complaint of the court concerned. It was urged that the offence with which Raghunandan Lai was charged having been committed in, or in relation to proceedings in a court, he could not be prosecuted without a complaint in writing of such court or of some other court to which such court was subordinate. The second objection was that the complaint against Brijendra Singh, Respondent No. 1, Under Section 218 IPC could no? be taken cognizance of without the sanction of the State Government. Reliance was sought to be placed on the provisions of Section 197 IPC and it was contended that Brijendra Singh being a 'judge' with the meaning of Section 19 IPC at the time when the offence was committed, he could not be prosecuted without the previous sanction of the Stats Government.
7. Both the objections prevailed with the learned Sessions Judge and he acquitted the two respondents on the finding that the complaint against them could not proceed without the sanction of the appropriate authority. Sri Satish Chandra, learned Counsel for the appellant, has urged that the view taken by the learned judge is wholly erroneous. He has pointed out that the learned Assistant Sessions Judge was not justified in dropping the charges Under Sections 219 and 210/109 IPC framed by the Magistrate and substituting in its place entirely new and fresh charges. He pointed out that the learned Assistant Sessions Judge had by framing new charges, completely changed the complexion of the case so as to attract to it the provisions of Sees. 195 and 197 CrIPC We are of opinion that there is considerable force in this contention, the learned judge had no jurisdiction to quash the charges framed by the magistrate. In Rex v. Alim Uddin : AIR1950All77 a Division Bench of this Court held that the sessions court has no power to withdraw or drop altogether a charge framed by the committing magistrate. It was observed that under Section 215 Cri. P- C. it was the High Court alone which could quash a charge and that the provisions of Sees 226 arid 227 did not empower the sessions court to substitute a new charge by dropping the charge already framed by tae committing magistrate. AH that the Sessions Judge could do was to add to or alter the charge. We respectfully concur with that view and hold that the learned Sessions Judge had erred in striking off the charges framed by the Magistrate.
8. It was next contended by the learned Counsel for the appellant that the Assistant Sessions Judge had gone wrong in holding that the provisions of Section 197 CrIPC applied to the present case. Brijendra Singh, respondent No. 1, was the Sarpanch of the Nyaya Panchayat of Nagla Singh on the date of the framing of the decree against the appellant. It is common ground that ho had ceased to be Sarpandh of the Nyaya Panchayat on the date when the complaint was made in court. The question therefore, arises whether the sanction for his prosecution was necessary Under Section 197 CrIPC The learned Assistant Sessions Judge relied on the judgment of a learned single Judge of this Court in Rajendra Bahadur v. State Criminal Appeal No. 1554 of 1959 (All). We have perused the judgment of that case and we are of opinion at the point which arose the is not relevant for the decision of the present case.
9. In order to appreciate the objection which was pressed before the court below it is necessary to reproduce the provisions of Section 197 Crl P. C Section 197(1) 'When any person who is a Judge' within the meaning of Section 19 IPC or when any Magistrate, or when any public servant who is not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of a State Government or the Central Government is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no Court shall take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction:
(a) in the case of a person employed in connection with the affairs of the Union, of the Central Government; and
(b) in the case of a person employed in connection with the affairs of a State, of the State Government.
The expression ''Judge' has been defined i' Section 19 L P- C. in these terms:
The word 'Judge' denotes not only every person who is officially designated as a Judge, but also every person who is empowered by law to give, in any legal proceeding, civil or criminal, a definitive judgment, or a judgment which if not appealed against would be definitive, or a judgment which, if confirmed by some other authority would be definitive, or who is one of a body of persons, which body of persons is empowered by law to give such a judgment.
10. It is not disputed that the Sarpanch of a Nyaya Panchayat comes within the definition of Section 19 IPC He can certainly be said to be one of a body of persons, which body of persons is empowered by law to give a judgment.
11. The next question that arises for consideration is whether in the present case it was obligatory to obtain the permission of the Stat0 Government for the prosecution of respondent No. 1. Section 197 clearly speaks of a judge who is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting, or purporting to act, in the discharge of his official duty. The plain meaning of the Section shows that the person concerned must at the time of the accusation, have been performing the functions of a judge and that the charge in respect of which he is being prosecuted must relate to the discharge of his official duty. As we have observed above, respondent No. 1 ceased to be a judge On the date when th6 accusation was made against him by the parties, so that the provisions of Section 197 would not be attracted to the case.
The view which we have taken finds support from the case of S. A. Venkataraman v. State : 1958CriLJ254 . That was a case iii which- the officer concerned was being prosecuted under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The question which arose before their Lordships of the Supreme Court was whether the previous sanction of the State Government was necessary for the prosecution of the accused within the meaning of Section 7 of the Prevention of Corrrup- tion Act, Reference was made before their Lordships to Section 197 CrIPC and it was point, ed out that the provisions of Section 6 of the Act were in pari materia with Section 197 Cri, P. C While considering the scope of Section 197 Cri. P. C their Lordships pointed out that the view of the High Courts of Calcutta, Bombay, Allahabad and Nagpur was that Section 197 of the Code affords no protection to a person who is not a public servant at the time he is accused of an offence before the court, although at the time he committed the offence he was a public servant. The Supreme Court made pointed reference to the cases of State v. Hifzul Rahman A.I.R. 1952 Nag 12, Prosad Chandra v. Emperor : AIR1943Cal527 , Emperor v. P. A. Joshi A.I.R. 1948 Bom 248, and Suraj Narain v. Emperor : AIR1938All513 as showing that the ambit of Section 197 did not extend to the case of a person who had ceased be a judge at the time when the accusation was made against him in court.
12. The learned, counsel for the respondents has not been able to point out any case to the contrary. It was faintly argued before us that if Section 197 CrIPC wer0 made applicable only to the case of a person who is a judge at the time when the accusation is made against him in a court, that would jeopardise the protection which according to the learned Counsel has been afforded to public servants in general.
In our opinion it is not the function of the court to consider the policy of the legislature except in so far as it is in conformity with the letter of the law. Section 197(1) of the Code is very clear and specific and leaves no room for doubt that before a person accused of an offence can claim protection by virtue of being a judge within the meaning of Section 19 IPC it must be shown that at the time when the accusation was made against him he was performing the functions and duties of a judge. If he has ceased to be a judge on the date when cognizance of th6 case is taken against him, the protection afforded by Section 197 would not be available to Shim. This in our opinion, is the pi in natural and commonsense meaning of Sect 197. It it not, therefore, open, to the court to extend the scope of Section 197 to read into it words which do not find place therein.
13. We are therefore, of the view that the order of acquittal passed by the learned. Assistant Sessions Judge in this case is clearly illegal and must be set aside.
14. The result, therefore, is that this appeal is allowed. The order of acquittal is set inside The case will proceed to Mai according to law.