Harish Chandra, J.
1. Three persons, namely Jokhu, Sukhu and Rangu were prosecuted under Sections 25, 26 and 28, Northern India Ferries Act (Act XVII of 1878) in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Banaras (North). Rangu pleaded guilty and was convicted under Sections 25 and 26 of the Act and sentenced to fines. The respondents, Jokhu and Sukhu, were also convicted under the same sections and sentenced to fines. All the accused persons were, however, acquitted under Section 28 of the Act. Rangu did not appeal from his convictions and sentences. The respondents went up in appeal to the Sessions Judge of Banaras and the learned Additional Sessions Judge by whom the appeal was heard allowed it and set aside the convictions and the sentences that had been passed upon the respondents. An appeal has been filed on behalf of the Provincial Government against the acquittal of the two respondents.
2. The case against the respondents is that they worked a ferry from a point within a distance of two miles from the limits of the ferry at Dharahra Ghat on the river Gomti in the district of Banaras. The Dharahra Ghat ferry is a public ferry and the contract for running this ferry for the year 1944-45 had been given to one Subedar Singh. Under Section 13 of the Act no person is allowed to work a ferry to or from any point within a distance of two miles from the limits of a public ferry and the respondents were charged with having contravened the provisions of this section, such contravention being punishable under Section 26 of the Act. There was also a charge against them under Section 25 of the Act on the ground that they obstructed the contractor of the public ferry at Dharahra Ghat in the execution of his duty under the Act, within the meaning of that section.
3. The learned Magistrate wag satisfied on the evidence that the distance of the point at which the respondents had admittedly worked a ferry, namely, Gauri Ghat, from Dharahra Ghat was less than two miles and the learned Additional Sessions Judge also accepted that evidence as correct. We have also looked through the evidence and are satisfied that the distance between Dharahra Ghat and Gauri Ghat is less than two miles. The distance was actually measured by the District Board Overseer, Shyam Adhar Singh, and according to his report the distance is one mile, five furlongs and six hundred and twenty feet. A rough measurement was also made by Sub-Inspector Mathura Singh. He however made the measurement by paces. There is also the evidence of the patwari that the distance between the two places is less than two miles. We see no reason to disagree from the finding arrived at by the Courts below in regard to the shortest distance between these two points. The learned Additional Sessions Judge however is of opinion that for the purposes of Section 13 of the Act the distance should be measured along the river. He found that the distance between the two points along the water of the river was more than two miles and in this view of the matter he found that the respondents had committed no offence under the Act.
4. On a careful perusal of Section 13, we are satisfied that there is no justification whatsoever for the interpretation which the learned Additional Sessions Judge has put upon that section. The words used in the section are 'within a distance of two miles from the limits of a public ferry' and there is no reason why the distance contemplated by that section should be taken to be other than the shortest distance between the two points. Section 11, General Clauses Act, 1897 (Act X of 1897) provides that in the measurement of any distance, unless a different intention appears, the distance shall be measured in a straight line on a horizontal plane. No doubt this section does not strictly apply to the Northern India Perries Act, for this Act was passed in the year 1878 and Section 11 applies only to Central Acts or Regulations made after the commencement of that Act. But Section 11 merely reproduces the commonsense view that should be adopted in measuring distances between two points and we see no reason why a different method should be adopted in computing distances contemplated by Section 13, Northern India Perries Act. The language used in that section is plain and is, in our view, not capable of the interpretation which has been put upon it by the lower Court. The riverine distance between two points on the bank of a river may vary from time to time according to seasons and such a method of measuring distances does not seem to have been contemplated by that section.
5. We accordingly allow the appeal and setting aside the acquittal of the respondents convict them under Section 26, Northern India Perries Act, 1878. We are not satisfied that Section 25 strictly app-lies to the facts of the present case. The respondents are sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 150/- each. In default of the payment of the fines they shall undergo simple imprisonment for a period of three months each. Out of the amount of the fines, if realised, a sum of Rs. 150 will be paid to the complainant Subedar Singh as compensation for the loss suffered by him.