1. This is an application by Mohan Lal Gautam for revision of an order convicting him of an offence under Section 18(1), Press Act.
2. The applicant was charged before the learned Magistrate with two offences, namely, one, under Section 18(1), Press Act, and the other under Section 17(2), Criminal Law Amendment. Act. He was convicted of both offences and sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment in respect of each offence, the sentences to run concurrently. On appeal the learned Sessions Judge of the Allahabad District set aside the conviction and sentence under Section 17(2), Criminal Law Amendment Act, but affirmed the conviction end sentence under Section 18(1), Press Act,
3. In revision it is now contended before this Court that this conviction is bad in law as the proved and admitted facts disclose no offence against the section in question. The facts of the case are not in dispute and can briefly be stated as follows: On 15th December 1933, the applicant ordered from the Shive Press at Allahabad, 10,000 copies of pamplet entitled 'Kisanon Sangathi Ho.' The copies ordered were duly printed and were subsequently distributed in the rural areas though it appears that some copies were actually distributed in the City of Allahabad. Further the pamphlet was published verbatim in a Hindi paper called Partap on 18th December 1933, so it is therefore clear that the contents of this pamphlet was published on a fairly wide scale in the Districts surrounding Allahabad.
4. The pamphlet is addressed to Kisans and calls upon them to unite in order to 'obtain their rights and it is the allegation of the prosecution that it is a document which tends to promote feelings of enmity between Kisans on the one hand and zamindars or the Government on the other and consequently its publication was an offence under Section 18(1), Press Act. Section 18(1), Press Act, enacts that whoever makes sells, distributes, publishes, etc., any unauthorized news-sheets or news-paper shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six months or with fine or with both. A news sheet is defined in Section 1(6) of the Act, as any document other than a news-paper containing public news or comments on public news or any matter described in Sub-section (1). Section 4, of the Act and an unauthorized news sheet is defined in Section 1(10) of the Act, as any news sheet other than a news sheet published by a person authorized under Section 15 of the Act, to publish it.
5. It is not and cannot be contended in this case that the applicant was a person authorized under Section 15 of the Act, to publish this document and it therefore follows that if this pamphlet is a news sheet within the meaning of the Act, it is an unauthorized one. It has not been argued that this pamphlet is a news sheet by reason of the fact that it contains public news or comments or public news, but it has been strongly urged on behalf of the prosecution that it is a news sheet within the meaning of the Act on the ground that it contains matter described in Sub-section (1), Section 4, Press Act, as amended by Section 16 of the Act 23 of 1932. A number of matters are set out in Section 4(1) of the Act, as amended and the prosecution allege that this pamphlet is an unauthorized news sheet because it contains words tending directly or indirectly to promote feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of His Majesty subjects, see Section 4(1)(h) of the Act, as amended.
6. In explanation 4, to this amended section of the Act, it is laid down however that words pointing out without malicious intention and with an honest view to their removal matters which are producing or have a tendency to produce feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of His Majesty's subject shall not be deemed to be words of the nature described in class (h) of that sub-section. This explanation in our judgment makes it clear that all words tending either directly or indirectly to promote such feelings of enmity or hatred are not within the purview of this sub-section. The explanation expressly provides that certain words published without malicious intention and with a certain definite and honest purpose are, not to be regarded as words tending to promote feelings of enmity between different classes though they might actually tend to promote such feelings. Words pointing out matters which are producing or have a tendency to produce feelings of enmity or hatred between classes must often, if not invariably, tend either directly or indirectly to promote such feelings, yet if such words are published without malicious intention and with an honest view to the removal of such matters they are not within the amended Section 4(1)(h) by reason of the provisions of explanation 4 to that section.
7. But for this explanation the writers of most articles discussing the supposed grievances of any class would; be within this sub-section, because the grievance of any particular class is almost invariably due to some extent to the rights or actions of some other class and that being so it would be almost impossible to discuss the grievance of such a class without tending at least indirectly to promote feelings-of enmity or hatred between that class and such other class. For example a discussion of the grievances of the workers in particular mills must almost invariably involve criticism of the owners of those mills and similarly a discussion of the grievances of one-particular race in India will in most cases involve some reflection on one or more of the other races who live in the country. Such articles however would not be within this sub-section by reason of explanation 4, if they merely pointed out the grievances without-malicious intention and with an honest view to their removal.
8. In the pamphlet the subject-matter of this charge the condition of the Kisans is described and certain proposals are made for alleviating and improving their position and status. The Kisans are urged to unite and form an association for the purpose of furthering their claims and improving their lot, but nowhere is violence advocated, but on the contrary, they are urged to capture the legislatures by constitutional means and thus procure the necessary ameliorative legislation. The tone of the opening paragraph is-somewhat dramatic and it may be that the facts as stated therein are somewhat exaggerated. If that paragraph stood by itself it might be argued that the document was within the amended sub-section. The lot of the Kisans is described as deplorable in the extreme and according to the writer he is frequently the victim of abuse and even of beatings at the hands of zamindars and Government Officials. No one however can deny that the present lot of the Kisans is not a very happy one, but even so this particular sentence does appear to offend on the side of exaggeration. However the leaflet must in our judgment be regarded as a whole as it would be grossly unfair to take one sentence out of its context and hold that such a sentence went beyond merely pointing out the Kisans, grievances without malicious intent and with an honest view to their removal i.e., beyond words such as are contemplated in explanation 4 to the sub-section in question.
9. Taking the pamphlet as a whole it is extremely moderate in tone. The writer is obviously deeply moved by the grievances of the Kisans which he describes in picturesque and expressive language. He urges them to bestir themselves and unite to secure a majority in the legislatures and thus by constitutional methods obtain enactments to remove their grievances and improve their lot. There is nothing in the pamphlet to suggest that the writer had any motive other than that of improving the condition of those to whom it is addressed. He merely points out what he regards as their grievances with a view to remedying them by lawful means. From the language used it is clear in our judgment that it was not the intention of the applicant to inflame the Kisans against the zamindars or the Government, but rather to interest them in their condition and in his proposals for the amelioration of their position. The pamphlet concludes by urging them to unite so that these proposals might be lawfully carried out.
10. It is true that the words of the leaflet might tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between the Kisans and the zamindars, but after giving the document our most careful and anxious consideration we are satisfied that the writer did nothing more than point out with a view to their removal the grievances of the Kisans, i.e., point out matters which were producing or had a tendency to produce feelings of enmity or hatred between the Kisans and zamindars. Further, the applicant in his statement before the trial Court states that he had no intention to create ill will or feelings of enmity or hatred between the Kisan and zamindars and between the Kisans and the Government and that his only object was to improve the present condition of the Kisans.
11. There was no material before the Court from which the intention of the applicant could be inferred other than, pamphlet itself its mode of publication and his statement made before the trial Court. The intention of the writer may properly be inferred from the language of the document which he has written. The language used may be so scathing' inflammatory and exaggerated as to make it clear that the writer intended more than what he actually wrote. A document may on the face of it have an entirely innocent meaning, yet the style of writing or the mode of expression adopted and. the language used may well indicate that the writers real intention was something far from innocent, peaceful or lawful. According to the applicants statement before the trial Court, he had no intention to create or stir up feelings, of enmity or hatred between the Kisans and any other class. His only object, he said, was to ventilate the grievances of the Kisans with a view to interesting them in proposals for the improvement of'6heir condition. We see nothing in the pamphlet in question or the mode of its publication which causes us to doubt that statement. The document cannot in our view be held to mean anything more than what it actually says and neither the language used nor the mode of publication suggests that the writer had any other motive or purpose in writing and publishing it than to point out the Kisans present unfortunate position with a view to obtain support for his proposal for the amelioration of their lot. In our judgment the writer had no malicious intent and we believe that his statement before the trial Court is true and ought to be accepted.
12. That being so, the document contained in our view nothing more than words pointing out without malicious intention and with an honest view to their removal matters which are producing and have a tendency to produce feelings of enmity or hatred between Kisans and zamindars and therefore by reason of explanation 4, the words are not to be deemed to be words which tend directly or indirectly to promote such feelings within the amended Section 4(1)(h), Press Act. The learned Sessions Judge did not in our judgment, consider this aspect of the case. After a careful consideration of the terms of the pamphlet he came to the conclusion that the words tend to create feelings of enmity or hatred between Kisans and zamindars and that in his view concluded the matter. The real object or the intention of the writer was according to him wholly immaterial and he held that it was quite enough to bring the applicant within this section if the prosecution showed that the words used did tend directly or indirectly to promote feelings of enmity or hatred.
13. The learned Sessions Judge never addressed his mind to the question whether the words used were anything more than words pointing out with a view to their removal matter producing or having a tendency to produce feelings of enmity or hatred between the two classes. If they were not, the intention of the writer was most material, for such words are not to be deemed to be words tending either directly or indirectly to produce such feelings if they were published without malicious intention and with an honest purpose of removing the matters creating such feelings.
14. In our judgment the pamphlet falls precisely within the words of explanation 4, and that being so it cannot be held to be an unauthorized news sheet, within the meaning of Section 18(1), Press Act, read with the other sections of that Act. The conviction of the applicant therefore cannot be sustained and we accordingly set aside the conviction and sentence and acquit him.
15. During the course of the argument another point was raised on behalf of the applicant, but not seriously argued. It was suggested that Kisans and zamindars were not sufficiently well defined or ascertainable classes to come within the section in question and in support of this contention the case of Mt. Manihen Lilahar v. Emperor 1933 Bom. 65, was relied upon. Having regard to the view which we take of the terms of this pamphlet it is unnecessary to decide this point and we therefore express no opinion upon it.