M. HIDAYATULLAH, C.J.—
1. In February and March 1964, the appellant Raja Ram was working as Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police at Rohtak. He was committed to the Court of Sessions, Rohtak, for trial under Sections 331 and 342 of the Indian Penal Code. He was acquitted of the charge under Section 331 but was convicted under Section 342 IPC and sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment. His appeal to the High Court was dismissed and he has now appealed to this Court by special leave. The charge against him read as follows:
“I, K.S. Sindhu, Addl. Sessions Judge, Rohtak, hereby charge you Raja Ram son of Charan Dass as follows:
Firstly, that you on or about in the month of March, 1964 at C.I.A. Police post, Jhajjar, while investigating a theft case in F.I.R. No. 2 of 1964 of P.S. Sampla, as A.S.I. Police voluntarily caused grievous hurt to Ranbir Singh, a minor son of Lakshmi Dutt for the purpose of extorting from Lakshmi Dutt a person interested in the said Ranbir Singh as his father a confession in respect of the offence of theft in the house of Ram Dhan of village Silana and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 331 of the Indian Penal Code and within my cognizance.
Secondly, that you on or about in the month of March, 1964, at the C.I.A. Police post, Jhajjar wrongfully confined Lakshmi Dutt, Devi Dutt, Chand Kaur, Ranbir Singh minor and Jagbir Singh and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 342 of the Indian Penal Code and within my cognizance.
And I hereby direct that you be tried under the said charges by this Court.”
2. No dates were mentioned in the charge. The finding against him was that he had confined persons mentioned in the second charge for a period of two days and that formed the basis of the conviction. In this appeal Raja Ram contests the correctness of this finding.
3. Ordinarily this Court does not consider the evidence for the third time but there are several special features in this case, such as rejection of a considerable mass of evidence charging the appellant with causing of grievous hurt, outraging the modesty of Chand Kaur and also rape. This made us look into the evidence to see how far the case as found against the appellant could be held to be proved and whether the evidence was reliable. The facts of the case are as follows:
4. On January 11, 1964, information was received by the police of an offence under Sections 457 and 380 IPC This case was registered at Police Station, Sampla. In the course of investigation the police arrested Devi Dutt on March 6, 1964. Two successive remands were taken, first for ten days and the second for four days and he was held in custody till March 21, 1964, when he was admitted to bail. Devi Dutt's son Lakshmi Dutt was also arrested on March 20, 1964, and was remanded till April 1, 1964, and was then released on bail on the following day. On April 6, 1964, a written complaint was made to the Home Minister, Punjab State, by Devi Dutt, who is a retired teacher. That report may be read here:
Shri Mohan Lal, Home Minister,
It is submitted that I am going to relate a painful story. The facts of the story are as under:
On the election of Sarpanchship of Panchayat in village Silana, Tehsil and District Rohtak Ex-Sarpanch was defeated in the election got implicated falsely my son and myself accusing in a theft case by the police. They have sent us to the staff Jhajjar where, we were enoughly beaten. Finding no way of in (sic) justice, I was compelled to approach your honour with this application. I am retired teacher, as such did not commit any misdeed nor do I expect to do so in future. Even our family did not do such thing, as it would have put a slur to the family. The enquiry should be made by a special person by collecting the all villagers and Panchayat. A great injustice has been done to me. My eldest son, aged twenty-seven years was beaten seriously by the policeman, as a result of which the blood circulation of the legs stopped. It rendered him incapable of walking. It is better to die than to live. I cannot provide him medical owing to poverty. I hope you will help me sympathetically in this behalf.
5. The report was also signed by one of the panches. It was first sent to Hazara Singh, a Deputy Superintendent of Police. In the course of his investigation he recorded statements of Devi Dutt, Chand Kaur, Jagbir, Chapter Ranpat, Sarpanch, Rai Singh, Amir Singh, Lamberdar, Ram Dhan, Dharam Singh and Daryao Singh, etc. Ranpat, Sarpanch was present throughout the investigation and signed all the statements as they were made. Signatures of the deponents were also taken. Later, a second enquiry was made by Sardar Dalip Singh, a Deputy Superintendent of Police who drew up a report on the basis of which the First Information Report was recorded. The case was then investigated a third time by Amar Nath Sharma, District Inspector Police, Rohtak, who presented the charge-sheet against the appellant.
6. The charge-sheet disclosed in addition an offence under Section 325 IPC against the appellant. The allegation was that the appellant had attempted to hit Chand Kaur with a danda and had caused fracture of the arm of her infant son in her lap. The Committing Magistrate did not commit the appellant on that charge and it was because the medical evidence proved that the injury to the arm of the infant was very old and probably not connected with the present incident.
7. The prosecution examined 15 witnesses, and the appellant examined four witnesses on his side. The story as unfolded by the prosecution witnesses insofar as there is agreement between them may now be narrated. We have already stated that Devi Dutt and Lakshmi Dutt were arrested, kept in detention on remand by the Magistrate and later released on bail. Devi Dutt was admitted to bail on March 21, 1964, and Lakshmi Dutt on April 2, 1964. It is also clear that on April 6, 1964, a report of whatever had happened was made to the Home Minister. That report speaks of only two things, namely, that Devi Dutt and his son were beaten. There was no mention of any outrage against Lakshmi Dutt's wife Chand Kaur or indeed any other person. The story of Lakshmi Dutt was that after his release on bail one day two constables came to him when he was sitting in court for some work and asked him to go to the police station House called C.I.A. Staff. According to him he was taken hand-cuffed to the C.I.A. Staff, Jhajjar. He was beaten at night by the appellant and the constables and tortured in various ways. Next day Devi Dutt was also called to the C.I.A. Staff. He was stripped naked by the accused. Lakshmi Dutt stated that he did not know for how many days his father was kept in custody but was ultimately released on bail. This shows that there is some confusion in the narration of events. The event of which Devi Dutt and others speak was after the release of Devi Dutt on bail that is to say in a period following March 21, 1964, and not earlier. However, Lakshmi Dutt goes on to say that his father, his wife Chand Kaur and his infant Ranbir and his brother Jagbir were also called to the thana. All of these persons were stripped naked in the presence of one another and then were asked to dress again. The appellant then tried to give a danda blow to Chand Kaur but it hit the infant Ranbir in her lap. Lakshmi Dutt was further tortured and then sent to the lock-up. Lakshmi Dutt also stated that his sister Dhanpati and his brother-in-law were also called to the police station and were insulted. His sister was stripped naked in his presence. Next day the members of the panchayat came to the C.I.A. Staff. The appellant beat him in the presence of the panches also and then released him on the intercession of the panches. Lakshmi Dutt denied that he had ever served in police or was dismissed from that service because of epilepsy. He admitted that there was a party faction in the village and that Ranpat and Daryao and four others stood for election for the offices of Sarpanch. He also stated that while he was in the police lock-up, the Sub-Inspector had called the doctor to examine him but not for epilepsy. He, however, did not show the doctor his injury because he was threatened that he would be beaten.
8. This statement of Lakshmi Dutt serves as a basis for examining the statements of other persons who claim to have been molested, insulted or tortured. Devi Dutt gave him a lie by stating that his son Lakshmi Dutt was in the police service and was discharged because he was an epileptic. Devi Dutt stated that he himself was arrested and was in the custody for nearly 28 days. This was wrong because he was in custody only for 15 days from 6th to the 21st of March, 1964. He stated that he was beaten while he was in custody almost every day. After his release one day a constable took him again to the C.I.A. Staff, Jhajjar and he went there with his son, Jagbir, his daughter-in-law Chand Kaur and infant Ranbir in her lap. He described how they were all stripped naked in one another's presence and how the police wanted to beat Chand Kaur but instead hit Ranbir and fractured his arm. According to him, the appellant released him and his son Jagbir but they kept sitting outside C.I.A. Staff throughout the night. Next day the members of the panchayat came and got them released. He stated that Chand Kaur and Jagbir were detained separately. The witness does not speak of the detention of Jagbir and himself in any way after they had been questioned a second time. In fact he says that they passed the time outside the C.I.A. Staff after they had been released.
9. Mst Chand Kaur repeated the same thing except that she was detained in a separate kothri and was raped in the night, first by the appellant and then by the two constables. She stated that her husband, her father-in-law and her brother-in-law were all turned out of the C.I.A. Staff. Jagbir also stated that they were called and stripped naked and beaten but he stated that at night Devi Dutt and he were detained in a separate Kothri.
10. It will be seen from the above discrepant statements that there is much doubt about wrongful confinement as such. To begin with there were many charges — rape, outraging the modesty of Chand Kaur, assault, torture to extract confession, causing of grievous and simple hurts and wrongful confinement. The police itself did not send up the appellant for trial for rape and outraging the modesty of a women. From this it follows that this part of the story was treated as an exaggeration and false. When the case was tried, the charge of causing hurt was dropped by the committal Court. The Sessions Trial proceeded on two charges and of these the charge under Section 331 IPC also failed. We are, therefore, left with a single charge of wrongful confinement.
11. Unfortunately no dates are mentioned either in the charge or in the evidence of witnesses. We can only be sure that on the April 6, 1964, Devi Dutt and his family were free. That day a report was made to the Home Minister but there is no mention of wrongful confinement but only of harassment. Lakshmi Dutt was released on bail on the 2nd April and, as he says he was recalled after his release, it must be some day between the 2nd and the 5th April. Lakshmi Dutt's evidence is unsatisfactory because, according to him, the second call was after his release but ‘some time after that’. This is very vague and there is not much time left between 2nd April and 5th April for detention for two days. Devi Dutt is also very difficult to understand. He said that he was detained for 28 days. If he was arrested on the 6th March, and detained for 28 days, it will take us to the 4th April. That cannot be correct because on the 6th he was free. We also know that he was admitted to bail on the 21st March. The evidence of Chand Kaur and Jagbir does not serve to clear this matter and panches also mention no dates.
12. Although the case is very unsatisfactory from this point of view, there is no doubt that Devi Dutt's family was summoned to the C.I.A. Staff. It is difficult to believe the testimony of Chand Kaur that she was detained in a kothri because her evidence of rape on her and the fracture of her infant son's arm cannot be believed. The evidence of Lakshmi Dutt and of Jagbir also cannot be believed that they were locked up in a kothri. Devi Dutt said that they were turned out and were released and passed the night outside the C.I.A. staff.
13. All the same the evidence of these witnesses that they were under a wrongful restraint can be believed since it is corroborated by the panches. It is clear that they were not free. Now a police officer can certainly summon a person to be questioned but he cannot summon a woman or a male under fifteen years of age. Such persons must be asked to attend interrogation at the place where they reside. This is what the proviso to Section 160 Cr PC says. By summoning Chand Kaur, a woman, and Jagbir, a boy aged thirteen years, the appellant was guilty of the infringement of this provision. There is no doubt that he kept these persons and also Devi Dutt and Lakshmi Dutt under wrongful restraint. The appellant could not keep them under restraint. We do not find any independent evidence of wrongful configment. But there is evidence of restraint. This evidence gets corroboration from the evidence of panches. The appellant was thus guilty of an offence under Section 341 IPC but not under Section 342 IPC.
14. We accordingly set aside his conviction under Section 342 IPC and instead sentence him under Section 341 IPC. The sentence of six months1 rigorous imprisonment is also set aside. We sentence him under Section 341 IPC to a fine of Rs 250. In default of payment of fine he shall undergo simple imprisonment for one week. With this modification the appeal fails and will be dismissed.