1. This case has been brought before this Court in revision and referred to a Bench of two Judges by our brother Banerj. under the following circumstances the accused has been convicted of cutting down 69 trees contrary to law and no doubt, although he set up a bona fide mis-understanding, it is a bad case. The Magistrate fined him with considerable severity namely, Rs. 1,500. He was charged under three separate charges in respect of the trees felled in three separate toks, the total number of trees being in all 69. He appealed to the Sessions Judge and amongst other points took the point that the charge ought not to have been split up into three but that the offence was one, the cutting having been a breach of the permission to out. The Sessions Judge rejected that view and we agree with him. He further took the view that the offences committed were in reality 69 offences and we agree with him as to that. The section is quite clear. Any person who fells any tree is liable to the specified penalties, which include a tine of Rs. 500. It is quite clear that the accused might have been convicted and fined for 69 trees. It is suggested before us that by reason of certain language in Section 29 of the Act in question (VII of 1878) the area should be regarded, and not the particular trees. There is nothing in the Act to support this contention, which is contrary to the ordinary interpretation of Statutes. The Sessions Judge taking this view, with which we agree, pointed out that, with regard to the framing of charges, the law is quite clear and that only three offences could be charged together and that from that point of view the trial and conviction were contrary to law. Thereupon the appellant's Pleader pointed out that if the Case were sent back the accused might be subjected to 23 separate trials, for the 69; trees. The Sessions Judge, however, gave no effect to this protest but set the conviction aside and sent the whole case back.
2. The matter has come before us in revision, and we think it our duty to take a broad view of the situation. No public purpose, or ends of justice, will be served by disturbing the conviction, or by sending the case back to be tried all over again. The accused has been heavily fined and no doubt rightly heavily fined. It is very unlikely that if any further proceedings were taken in the original Court any other result in the total would be reached; there is, therefore, no useful purpose to be gained by taking the course which the Sessions Judge has taken. Although the Privy Council, as was pointed out in argument by my brother Piggott, has enforced the necessity of framing charges strictly according to law, the point in this case was taken against the appellant on his own appeal, which is another matter altogether, and it is a point which is clearly covered by the provisions of Section 537, although we might interfere in revision as against the accused in the way the Sessions Judge has done, if there had been any kind of miscarriage of justice. While we agree with the principles laid down as to the construction of the Act and the framing of charges in the judgment of the Sessions Judge, we think that the ends of justice will be met by restoring the conviction. We would merely add that the ordinary course for the prosecution in such cases is to select a small number of typical cases (not a large proportion where the number is 691 and to frame their charges accordingly and to prosecute them before the Magistrate. If the result of those proceedings is to penalize the accused, and the sentence or fine inflicted is considered sufficient to meet the ends of justice, there is an end of the matter, and the remaining charges which might still be brought need not be proceeded with. If on the other hand, through some unforeseen accident or miscarriage at the trial the accused is acquitted of those charges, then it is open to the prosecution to proceed with the remaining charges. In this way all the difficulties suggested by the Sessions Judge can be met.
3. The order of the Court is that the application be allowed and the original conviction and penalty of the Magistrate be restored.