1. This is an appeal, by the accused from his conviction by the District Magistrate of Jhansi under Section 124-A. Indian Penal Code. He preferred an appeal to the Sessions Judge of Jhansi which was heard and disposed of by Mr. Plowden who affirmed the conviction but reduced the sentence. Apparently it was overlooked by all concerned that no appeal lay to the Sessions Judge at all. Under Section 408(c), Criminal Procedure Code when a person is convicted by a Magistrate of an offence under Section 124-A. Indian Penal Code, the appeal shall lie to the High Court and not to the Sessions Court. The order ox the Sessions Judge allowing the appeal and reducing the sentence was therefore without jurisdiction. We accordingly on the revisional side set aside that order. The present appeal was filed from jail beyond time. In view of the circumstances that an their appeal had been preferred under a mistake to the Sessions Court and was allowed by the learned Sessions Judge, we think that there is sufficient cause for extension of time for the filing of this appeal under Section 5, Limitation Act. We accordingly extend the time and treat the appeal as if it has been filed in time. The accused, who is apparently an educated person and has described himself as a journalist, went to village Babina on June 28, 1936, to address a meeting which had been convened there Village Babina apparently lies in the line of the field firing and had to be vacated about the time when there had to be artillery practice. The accused admittedly made a speech on that occasion as the principal speaker at that meeting. Sub-Inspector Lachhman Singh of Babina was present on the occasion and took down notes of his speech and liter made a report to the Superintendent of Police. After the sanction of the Local Government had been obtained, the accused was prosecuted. The District Magistrate found that the notes of the speech taken down by the Sub Inspector were substantially correct and the words amounted to sedition within the meaning of Section 124-A, Indian Penal Code, and accordingly convicted the accused and sentenced him to 18 months' rigorous imprisonment.
2. In appeal it is first contended before us that inasmuch as the Sub inspector did not know shorthand the notes taken down by him are unreliable and should not be accepted as evidence against the accused. In ordinary cases if a person takes down a speech in long hand there may be a danger of some relevant passages, having been left out and even of the gist not conveying the true impression. But in this particular case the Sub Inspector after taking down the abstract of the speech showed it to two witnesses Sia Ram and Maharaj Singh, who were zamindars of Babina, just after the meeting was over. These witnesses, whose recollection was fresh at the time, were satisfied that this was a correct gist of the speech and actually attested the document. Thus the chance of there being gross errors in the notes was to a considerable extent altogether eliminated. It is not suggested that the Sub-Inspector had any grudge against the accused, nor can it be said that the two witnesses Sia Ram and Maharaj Singh, who are zamindars of Babina had any malice against him. Indeed as the accused came from outside and was apparently a stranger to the village, there could be no question of any personal grievance against him. The accused has not attempted to produce any version of his speech contrary to the one taken down by the Sub-Inspector. The evidence is therefore entirely one-sided. We must in these circumstances accept the finding of the District Magistrate that the Sub-Inspector took down substantially what was stated by the accused and that the notes made by him represent the gist of the relevant portion of the accused's speech.
3. We are unable to accept the argument that inasmuch as the speech taken down by the Sub-Inspector is only a short abstract and is not the whole speech in extenso, no conviction should be based upon it. If the portion that was taken down was seditious in character, there is no reason why conviction should not follow. The learned Advocate for the appellant has next urged before us that the whole speech should be read in order to gather the intention of the accused and the purport of his speech. Now in his speech the accused was addressing a meeting of the villagers and was trying to impress upon then that there had been numerous acts of tyranny which could be easily redressed if the villagers were united and were strong. He began by saying that it was a matter of great shame that people ran away on account of the fear of the chaukidar getting Rs. 2-13-0 P. M. and the Darogha getting Rs. 60 P.M. who were their servants and that if they liked they could get them dismissed that very day, and 'rather they can rub in the dust the nose of the Collector getting Rs. 2,200 P.M.' He then proceeded to:
I say I have come to teach you rebellion. We want to turn out the English people from the country and to hand the country over to you.
4. This passage cannot refer to the Collector of the District personally nor to any particular grievances of the locality, but was intended to impress upon the audience that the speaker was trying to teach them how they could rebel against the Government and take over charge of the whole country in their hands. After referring to the various losses caused to the people of Babina by the held firing he stated that it was very hard on the people that they were turned out from their houses at 4 A.M., though later the hour was changed to 6 A.M. He asserted that a man had died of pneumonia because he was turned out in the cold, that a woman of Nagda gave birth to a child under a tree after she had been turned out, that the compensation paid was too inadequate, and had in many cases, not been received by the villagers at all; that women had remained out of their village for several days but were paid compensation for a few days only, that compensation for some crops was not given at all, and so oil. He also stated that questions were asked in the Legislative Assembly but the Collector of the District gave untrue replies. The speaker emphasized that the authorities did not give adequate compensation for the loss, that cattle died, that cattle which were turned out went astray, that military horses trampled down the crops and that there were also many kinds of losses for which no compensation had been given. He then said:
All this is due to your weakness. If you become ready with shoes in your hands, they will not either have firing or will give the desired compensation. I bet that they will not have field firing again.
5. He then wound up by saying that they had taken legal proceedings and put some questions in the Council but they were infructuous because false replies were given and that accordingly the.lisan conference, had decided that nothing would come oat by taking legal proceedings, andithat the Babina people should prepare- themselves for 'satyagrah' (passive resistance) and said:
If you are prepared to offer satyagrdh, you will get full compensation, and if you like you can stop the firing.
6. Portions out of this speech have been incorporated in the charge, in particular the passage:
I say I have come to teach you revolution. We want to turn out the English people from the country to hand the country over to you.
if you be ready with shoes in hands, they will not either have firing or will give the desired compensation. I bet that there will be no field firing then.
as well as the reference to the Collector. The Sub-Inspector has given evidence that the notes taken by him were correct and that the speaker had used those words. The prosecution witnesses Sia Ram and Maharaj Singh corroborate the Sub-Inspector. They have stated that the accused used such words. Sia Ram has also, stated that the effect of this speech was that the Government was tyrannical and to render them disaffected with Government and that the existing Government should be removed. Maharaj Singh has also stated that the effect on the audience of the speech was that the Government was tyrannical to them and their feelings towards Government were made bad. He has pointed out that the things which had made them feel ill-disposed towards Government, were the speaker's account of compensation and of the villagers being turned out at night and people dying of pnemonia, which made them think that the Government was tyrannical.
7. The learned Advocate for the accused has argued before us that passages in the speech which might amount to a slander of the Collector would not be seditious. We are prepared to ignore such remarks, but there can be no doubt that the whole object of they accused was to rouse the people and make them determined to resist the action of the authorities and to insist on the field firing ceasing or on their being paid higher compensation. He also professed to teach them rebellion of revolution and how to take charge of the country into their own hands, and also reminded them that if they were deter mined and ready with shoes in hand t resist, then they would gain their, object. We think that there can be no doubt that the speech made by the accused did bare the effect of bringing or at any rate attempting to bring the Government into hatred and contempt and to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in British India. We are not in this case concerned with the truth of these allegations as no justification was pleaded by the accused. The learned Advocate has urged before us that the accused has teen seriously prejudiced because the learned Magistrate disallowed certain questions which were put by the accused's Counsel to his witness Hari Das Verma. The two questions which were disallowed were as follows:
(1) Did accused say in his speech that he had come to teach them revolution and to turn out the English and to hand over the dominion to them? (2) Did accused say that if they took a shoe and stood up, there would either be no field firing or they would get compensation
8. These questions were disallowed by the Magistrate on the ground that they were leading questions and therefore objectionable under Section 142, Evidence Act. There can be no doubt that both these questions could have been answered in the short form 'No' or 'Yes'. The witness who had come for the defence may be presumed to have some bias in favour of the accused and questions of this type when put to the witness would suggest to him the answer which was expected. It must therefore be conceded that these questions were leading questions and the District Magistrate was within his jurisdiction in not allowing them to be answered. The Counsel for the accused instead of putting questions indirectly adopted this wrong course. Had he first asked the witness as to whether the accused had said anything about revolution or taking over charge of the country in their hands and so on, and then lathi on after having exhausted indirect questions asked the permission of the Court for putting a leading question and permission had been refused, the position might have been different. The questions as put were certainly leading questions and he District Magistrate had jurisdiction to disallow them. Nor are we satisfied that even if those questions had been answered in the negative, the weight of the evidence would have been really altered. On the one hand, we had the notes of the speech taken down by the Sub-Inspector en the spot, read over to two witnesses who agreed as to their accuracy and attested them, and on the other band we would have the oral testimony of a witness, deposing some two months afterwards, that certain words had not been used by the accused according to his recollection. It would be very difficult to disbelieve the prosecution evidence on such ground. Had the accused produced any shorthand notes of his speech in defence, the matter might have been different. Reading the sentences with the gist of the entire speech, they were certainly seditious We are therefore of the opinion that the conviction of the accused under Section 124-A was correct and we uphold it. We are inclined to agree with Mr. Plowden that the sentence of 18 months is severe. The learned Assistant Government Advocate has sent an illness slip arid before we decide what sentence should be imposed, we would like to hear him. Put up on Monday next.
9. We have heard the learned Assistant Government Advocate as regards the sentence. The speech made by the accused as reported was certainly offensive but only a few sentences, out Of that speech were incorporated by the Magistrate in the charge. We have already quoted the two sentences which in our opinion were seditious, and we have not considered it appropriate to rely on the rest of the statements quoted in the charge sheet. In view of the restricted charge we think that on the whole the ends of justice will be met if a sentence of seven months' rigorous imprisonment is imposed on the accused. We accordingly allow the appeal in part and confirming the conviction of the accused reduce the sentence to a period of seven months instead of 18 months.