H.R. Krishnan, J.
1. This is an application in revision by a supratdar of certain property in charge of the Court. When on his own request the Court relieved him and took over the property there was a shortage. Its value has been fixed after dueenquiry by the Magistrate at Rs. 954-6-0. The applicant has accordingly been called upon to make good this loss by depositing it in the Court. Presumably distress warrant has been issued. Meanwhile, the applicant went to the Sessions Judge who has dismissed his application.
He has come here with what he describes as grounds of law invalidating the order of the Magistrate. The first is, that the bond not having been taken in the Court but by the police, the Court was incompetent to order a forfeiture; secondly, that there was no direction on the applicant supratdar to produce in Court or before any court-servant the goods entrusted; thirdly, that the bond itself was not for the production of the goods or for payment to Government; in fact, its words are altogether meaningless.
2. The facts of the case were simple. In course of a criminal case, which seems to have been started in 1949, a big stack of hay came in charge of the Magistrate. Since it was an exhibit which could not be stored in the Magistrate's malkhana, he directed the police to entrust it to a supratdar on condition that he would produce it or its declared value when so called upon.
Accordingly, the petitioner who was unconnected with the parties in the criminal case, took charge of the hay-stack and executed a supratnama setting out that he -- Karansingh -- was accepting the entrustment (supratgi) of the stack of hay containing about one lac and sixty thousand bundles and worth about Rs. 5000/- as estimated by panchas, who also signed the bond. 'In case I neglect to discharge the burden oE this entrustment, I shall pay to Government khajana a sum of Rs. 5,000/-'. This is signed by the applicant as well as two panchas in that capacity.
The applicant petitioned the Court to relieve him of the supratgi. Accordingly, the Court deputed its nazir to go and take charge of the stack of hay and entrust it to some other supratdar. The nazir accordingly went there and counted the bundles in presence of the applicant, and noted that there was a shortage in the count which, on proportionate valuation on the basis of Rs. 5000/-for the whole, was worth Rs. 954-6-0. What was left of the haystack, was taken from the charge of the applicant, and put in supratgi of another man. The applicant himself was called upon to make good the shortage by payment of this sum.
3. The first ground urged is that the bond having been taken by the police, Section 514, Cr. P. C., has no application; the Magistrate could not order any forfeiture on its basis. Authorities have been cited --Rameshwar Bhartia v. State of Assam, AIR 1952 SC 405, and following it in Prabhu Dayal v. State, 1960 MPC 4: (AIR 1960 Madh Pra 85). There is no doubt that a bond taken by any authority without the intervention or direction of the Court cannot be forfeited by the Court, even if it is for production before it. The obvious reason is that the Court has not taken the bond.
For example, in the Assam case, the bond had been taken by the Director, Food Supplies on his own responsibility at a time when there was no case at all. He had, however, envisaged the future possibility of there being a case before a Court, and taken a bond for the production of the attached articles before the Court in which he was in future to start the prosecution. Similarly, in the case reported in 1960 MPC 4: (AIR 1960 Madh Pra 85) (supra), the police took charge of certain cattle at the time when there was no case before the Court and entrusted it to somebody. In such cases no action could be taken under Section 514, because the Court had not come into the picture.
'Whenever it is proved to the satisfaction of the Court by which a bond under this Code has been taken ........ that such bond has been forfeited.... ....'
4. The present case, however, is altogether different. Here, as a matter of fact, a criminal case is already pending and the Court trying that case has expressly directed the police to place the article in charge of a supratdar. It is in obedience of that order that the police have taken the bond from the applicant-supratdar, and sent it to the Court. Therefore, it is a bond taken by the Court though the actual physical machinery is an officer of the police. The bond is to take charge and look after (suprat) the article, which is described by count and value accepted by the supratdar. There has, on the fact, been found a failure to produce the article in full. The explanation being unsatisfactory, the bond has been forfeited in proportion to the shortage and non-compliance.
5. The second ground raised is that the bond is either meaningless or has provided for no penalty in case the supratdar neglects to discharge the trust. Further, it is said that this is more a pancbnama than a supratnama. The words are used loosely but a panchanama is an inventory, while a supratnama is an undertaking. As usual, one has to see the intention of the party. In the document here, the applicant states that 'he has taken charge of the bay-stack which is described by count and value''.
The panchas have also signed it as witnesses to the count and assessment and the actual fact of the hay-stack being handed over to the supratdar. Thus there is an inventory, find then a taking over of the goods witnessed by panchas. So it is an undertaking. The supratdar ends by reciting that he would pay at the treasury of the Government (Bharat Sarkar ke Khajane ko) the sum of Rs. 5000/- in case he is found negligent. Negligence means here 'negligence of the suprat or entrustment'. In other words, 'failure to return the goods in their totality'. As for the agreement to pay at the Government treasury, the words used are 'Sarkar ke Khajane ko vvasul karenge'.
But the meaning is obvious. It is not as if the supratdar is going to collect from the Government Treasury, (Khajane se wasul karenge) a reward in case he neglects to discharge the burden of the entrustment. The meaning is clear, and it is only a case which is quite common with the uneducated men, using the words 'karenge' or 'karawenge' indiscriminately. The fact that the panchas have also signed, and in a sense, that is an inventory, does not in any manner relieve thesupratdar of the responsibility he has undertaken under his own signature.
6. The third ground urged is that there should have been a formal demand for the delivery of the article entrusted before notice could have been issued to show cause against forfeiture. To be sure, there was no written demand for the delivery of the goods but there was a demand by the nazir in person. It was the supratdar himself that requested the Court to relieve him of the burden and in accordance with his prayer, the Court deputed the nazir to take charge of the article and arrange for another supratdar. The nazir and the petitioner were both present and a count was made and what was left of the hay-stack, was entrusted to the new supratdar. It is difficult to see how in this context it can be urged that there was no demand.
7. Finally, I note that the applicant was given a chance to explain the shortage. He gave some reasons which the Court considered for what it was worth and then declared them unsatisfactory.
8. In these circumstances, there is no force in this application in revision which is accordingly dismissed.