1. In Criminal Case No. 3063 of 1964 on the file of the Magistrate, First Class, Durg, the three respondents in Criminal Appeal No. 410 of 1964, along with the petitioner T. L. Shrinivasan in Criminal Revision No. 360 of 1964, were, on the basis of their own pleas of guilty convicted of offences under Sections 19(5) and 20(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act, 1959. Out of the convicted persons, the three respondents in Criminal Appeal No. 410 of 1964 filed an appeal against their conviction and sentence, which was allowed by Shri O. R. Siddiqui. Ist Additional Sessions Judge, Durg.
The learned Judge, while allowing the appeal preferred by these persons, made certain observations in his judgment against certain officials of the Bhilai Steel Project, whose names had been mentioned in the affidavits filed before the learned Judge. These officers have filed petitions (Miscellaneous Criminal Cases Nos. 250 to 256 of 1964) under Section 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure praying that the remarks made by the appellate Court in paragraph 16 of its judgment be ordered to be expunged from the record. The petitioner T. L. Shrinivasan, who had not filed any appeal against the order of conviction and sentence, has come up in revision before this Court (Criminal Revision No. 360 of 1964). This judgment shall govern the disposal of all these cases.
2. We shall take up first the appeal preferred by the State against the order of acquittal passed by the appellate Court in favour of Mustaq Azad, Chandra Mohan Singh and Jagdish Kumar Gulati. All these persons as well as T. L. Shrinivasan, were admittedly working as Technical Assistants in the Bhilai Steel Project during the relevant period. It was alleged in the challan that on the morning of the 13th of April 1964, Coke Oven Battery No. 4 in the Bhilai Steel Project was to be inaugurated by Hon'ble Shri Subramaniam, Minister of Steel and Heavy Engineering, Government of India. While, the function was being held in the Coke oven area, which is a protected area, the respondents, along with others, assembled there in order to make some representation to the Hon'ble Minister. The said accused persons staged a demonstration while speeches were being delivered by the Hon'ble Minister and the officials of the Bhilai Steel Project with a view to cause disturbance in the function.
3. All the four accused admitted their guilt, and stated that they had taken part in the collective demonstration made on that occasion. The learned Magistrate treated this statement as a plea of guilty, and convicted each of the accused on its basis under Sections 19(5) and 20(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act.
4. In the appeal preferred by Mustaq Azad, Chandra Mohan Singh and Jagdish Kumar Gulati, it was stated by them that they were forced by the officers named therein to admit before the Court the allegations made against them, that the ingredients of the offence were not properly explained to them by the trial Court, and that the admission of guilt was obtained from them by 'fraud, promise and inducement' proceeding from the authorities specified in the memorandum of appeal.
5. It appears from paragraph 5 of the judgment of the appellate Court that the order of conviction was challenged before it on the grounds (1) that no case under Sections 19(5) and 20(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act had been made out against the appellants, (2) that the admissions and pleas of guilty, on which the convictions were based, had been 'unfairly obtained' from them, and (3) that the particulars of the offences were not properly explained to them. The other two grounds, which were urged in support of the appeal before the lower Court, are no longer material, inasmuch as the judgment of the lower appellate Court is not based on them, nor were those grounds urged in the arguments before us.
6. The learned appellate Judge observed in paragraph 7 of his judgment that the appellants before him admittedly being employees of the Bhilai Steel Project, their entry and presence in the Coke Oven area could not be treated as unauthorised. He was, therefore, of the opinion that the conviction of the appellants before him under Section 19(5) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act could not, in spite of their pleas of guilty, be upheld.
7. It was held by Somasundaram J. in In re, U. R. Ramaswami, AIR 1954 Mad 1020 that when the facts alleged by the prosecution do not amount to an offence, the plea of guilty cannot stand in the way of the accused being acquitted. In such a case, the bar under Section 412 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for an appeal will not apply. It was similarly held in Murarji Raghunath v. Emperor, AIR 1919 Bom 160 that a mere admission of facts does not necessarily amount to an admission of the offence with which the accused is charged. A Division Bench of Calcutta High Court held in Niranjan Lall v. State, AIR 1954 Cal 82, that if an accused pleads guilty under an erroneous view of the law, that would not stand in the way of his acquittal. In Subba Rao v. The King, AIR 1951 Pat 405 Agarwala, C. J., held that it is not sufficient for a conviction that the accused should admit the facts which the prosecution allege. Unless the facts alleged amount to an offence, the accused cannot be convicted.
8. In the present case, all that was stated in the police report was that the Coke Oven area, where the inauguration ceremony was being held, was a protected area, wherein meetings or demonstrations could not be held. The accused were alleged to have created a disturbance in the function by raising slogans and making demonstration in the said area. There was no allegation in the police report that the accused were unauthorised persons and had, therefore, no right of entry into the Coke Oven area. Section 19(1) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act, 1959, lays down that if the Government considers it necessary or expedient in the interest of general public that special precautions should be taken to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons, the Government may by order declare that place to be a protected place.
It is clear from these provisions that the object of the declaration is to prevent entry of unauthorised persons. The accused in the present case were admittedly Technical Assistants in the Bhilai Steel Project during the relevant period and, in the absence of any allegation in the challan or in the particulars of offence put to the accused persons, that they were not authorised to enter into the Coke Oven area, where the inauguration ceremony was being held, it is difficult to see how the offence under Section 19(5) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act could be said to have been constituted We are, therefore, of the opinion that on the facts stated in the challan, and in the particulars of offence put to the accused, the offence under Section 19(5) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act was not constituted and, therefore, in spite of their plea of guilty, the accused could not be convicted of the said offence.
9. We shall now consider the charge under Section 20(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act. It may be mentioned in this connection that in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 20 of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act, 1959, the State Government, by its notification published in the Madhya Pradesh Gazette, dated the 27th of July 1962, declared the places mentioned in the Schedule attached thereto to be protected areas. It had initially exempted persons employed in the said areas from the provisions of that order; but by a subsequent notification published in the Madhya Pradesh Gazette, dated the 26th of April 1963, the persons employed in the said protected areas, who had been exempted from the provisions of the order previously made (to which reference has been made by us above), were subjected to the further restriction that they could not hold assemblies, meetings, processions or demonstrations in such area. It was argued that such an order could not be made by the Government in exercise of its powers under Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 20 of the Act.
We do not see any substance in this contention. The power under Section 20(1) of the Act can be exercised by the Government whenever the Government considers it necessary or expedient in the interest of general public to regulate the entry of persons into any area. The words 'regulate the entry of persons' also imply restrictions being placed upon the persons who are allowed to enter into the said area. The order made by the Government, whereby the persons working in the said area were made subject to the condition that they shall not hold meetings, processions or demonstrations in the said area, was, therefore, intra vires of the power of the Government as laid down in Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 20 of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act. On the making of such an order, the provisions of the order shall be deemed to have become a part of the Statute itself, with the result that a contravention of an order made under the provisions of Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 20 of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act will, for the purposes of Sub-section (4) thereof, be a contravention of the provisions of Section 20 and be punishable under that sub-section.
We are, therefore, of the opinion that the accused having admitted in their pleas that they held a demonstration in the said area were liable to be convicted under Section 20(4) of the Act. Their plea of guilty being specific in this behalf, their conviction on its basis in respect of the offence under Section 20(4) of the Act was fully justified. We are, therefore, of the opinion that no appeal lay against their conviction under Section 20(4) of the Act
10. This brings us to a consideration of the allegations made against the various officers of the Bhilai Steel Project in the memorandum of appeal and affidavits filed before the lower appellate Court by Mustaq Azad, Chandra Mohan Singh and Jagdish Kumar Gulati. We would have to observe in this connection that the appellate Judge should not have allowed his mind to be influenced by considerations extraneous to the record of the case. If the learned Judge thought that the allegations made by the appellants before him in the memorandum of appeal, which were on a later date sought to be supported by affidavits, called for enquiry, the only course open to him was to record additional evidence under the provisions of Section 428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The affidavits, which were filed before him, could not form the basis of any judicial finding, much less could they furnish any justification for the learned Judge to make observations against the various officers against whom allegations had been made in the affidavits filed before him. The Public Prosecutor was not bound to file counter-affidavits of the officers against whom such allegations had been made. It was none of his business to allow such a digression to be made from the matters which were in controversy in the case under appeal.
The plea of guilty, on which the conviction under Section 20(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act was based, could not, in our opinion, have been challenged before the learned Additional Sessions Judge on the grounds mentioned in the affidavits filed before him. Before acting on such allegations, it was the duty of the learned Judge to enquire into each one of them, after giving notice to the persons affected thereby, and to record evidence in the presence of both parties. We are clearly of the opinion that the learned Judge was in error in interfering with the convication under Section 20(4) of the Act on the grounds mentioned by him in his judgment. We would, therefore, partly allow the appeal preferred by the State (Criminal Appeal No. 410 of 1964) and convict the respondents Mustaq Azad, Chandra Mohan Singh and Jagdish Kumar Gulati under Section 20(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act. For the sake of uniformity, we consider it proper, in the exercise of our revisional powers, to acquit the petitioner T. L. Shrinivasan also of the offence under Section 19(5) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act, but we would maintain his conviction under Section 20(4) of the said Act.
Section 562(1-A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure would apply only to offences specified in that sub-section. The provisions of Section 562(1-A) have no application to offences punishable under Acts other than the Penal Code, or to any offence under the Penal Code punishable with more than two years' imprisonment. We are, however, of the opinion that, having regard to the nature of the offence committed by Mustaq Azad, Chandra Mohan and Jagdish Kumar Gulati and T. L. Shrinivasan, as also the fact that they are young officers, who have a career before them, the ends of justice would be served if instead of passing any sentence against them, we direct under Section 4(1) of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, that they shall be released, on each of them entering into a bond for Rs. 200/- to appear and receive sentence when called upon during a period of one year from this date. We order accordingly.
11. Lastly, we have to consider the applications under Section 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure for expunging the observations made by the learned Additional Sessions Judge in paragraph 16 of his judgment. The said paragraph runs as under:
'16. Before I part with this case I cannot abstain from remarking that the course taken by certain Officials of the Bhilai Steel Project to rope in the inexperienced young men with careers before them, to keep up the vanity and/or prestige of some high ups in complete disregard of a common sense of justice, is not only undesirable but even repulsive. The part played by the persons concerned in prevailing upon the appellants to hold the baby for some others and thus be a scapegoat, is not befitting their high positions and would be tantamount to abuse of their power. The management of Bhilai Steel Project would do well in making a thorough enquiry into the conduct of its officers mentioned in the affidavits, filed in this case before this Court, for the acts and omissions on their part and thus redress the wrong done to the appellants.'
We have already held that the learned Judge was not justified in acquitting the appellants before him of the offence under Section 20(4) of the Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act. The learned Judge had no material before him on which he could legally base a finding to the effect that certain officials of the Bhilai Steel Project had been guilty of the conduct imputed to them in the affidavits filed before him. Nor could the learned Judge have come to the conclusion that any of the said officers had prevailed upon the appellants before him 'to hold the baby for some others and thus be a scapegoat'. These remarks betray want of judicial balance, and susceptibility on the part of the learned Judge to entertain bias against persons, who were not parties to the action and had no opportunity to defend themselves against the scurrilous attack made against them by the appellants in their affidavits.
It was observed by the Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Mohammad Naim, AIR 1964 SC 703 that it is necessary that in expressing their opinions Judges and Magistrates must be guided by considerations of justice, fairplay and restraint. Before making disparaging remarks against persons or authorities, whose conduct comes into consideration before courts of law in cases to be decided by them, it is relevant to consider (a) whether the party, whose conduct is in question, is before the court, or has had an opportunity of explaining or defending himself; (b) whether there is evidence on record bearing on that conduct justifying the remarks; and (c) whether it is necessary for the decision of the case, as an integral part thereof, to animadvert on that conduct Their Lordships of the Supreme Court further observed that it has been recognised that judicial pronouncements must be judicial in nature and should not normally depart from sobriety, moderation and reserve. We are constrained to observe that the observations made by the learned Judge in paragraph 16 of his judgment in the present case had neither any legal basis, nor were they called for a first (sic) decision of the case. In fact, the learned Judge had not held any enquiry into the truth of the allegations contained in the affidavits filed by the appellants before him and he had, therefore, no justification to make any disparaging remarks against the authorities of the Bhilai Steel Project merely on the basis of those affidavits.
12. We shall, therefore, allow the petitions inMisc. Criminal Cases Nos. 250 to 256 of 1964, anddirect that paragraph 16 be expunged from thejudgment delivered by the 1st Additional SessionsJudge, Durg, in Criminal Appeal No. 242 of 1964of his Court. The appeal preferred by the State(Criminal Appeal No. 410 of 1964) is hereby partlyallowed, and the respondents named therein are convicted of the offence under Section 20(4) of theMadhya Pradesh Public Security Act. They aredirected to execute a bond as already stated above.Similarly, Criminal Revision No. 360 of 1964 ispartly allowed. The petitioner T. L. Shrinivasanis acquitted of the charge under Section 19(5) ofthe Madhya Pradesh Public Security Act, but hisconviction under Section 20(4) of the said Act ishereby maintained, and he is directed to executea bond as already stated above.