V.B. Raju, J.
1. This appeal is against an acquittal. The respondents were charged with having held a public meeting within 24 hours from the date of election in contravention of Section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act. The learned Magistrate passed an order of acquittal on the ground that there were discrepancies between the evidence of a police officer and the evidence of witnesses examined by the prosecution.
2. When a charge of holding a public meeting in contravention of the Act is framed against an accused person the prosecution must prove three things: (1) that the accused held a public meeting (2) that the meeting was a public one and (3) that what was held was a meeting. Holding a public meeting is different from attending it.
3. In order to prove what was held is a meeting the prosecution must adduce satisfactory evidence. If thousands of persons assemble at the Chowpaty Beach at random it cannot be called a meeting. If taking advantage of the large number of persons present at the Chowpaty Beach a person addresses them it cannot be said to be a meeting. But if on seeing a person speaking the persons present at the Chowpaty Beach which is a public place go nearer to the speaker in order to hear him then perhaps we can say that it was a meeting.
4. In order to prove that it was a public meeting it must be proved that the meeting was held in a public place or at a place to which the public has access. In the instant case there is no evidence whatsoever that the respondents held the meeting or that there was a meeting in fact. Even the fact that accused No. 2 received accused No. 1 when he came to the place would not necessarily make it a meeting or necessarily mean that he held a meeting. That the place in question was a public place is deposed to by prosecution witness Nandlal. Police Head Constable Jhilubhai has deposed that the place was the Chowk of accused No. 2. There is therefore no satisfactory evidence to prove any of the three essential ingredients required to be proved by the prosecution.
5. In view of the above reasons it is not necessary to consider whether the learned Magistrate is right or wrong in his appreciation of evidence although it may be said that ordinarily speaking in such a case we should accept the evidence of one police officer unless there are reasons to the contrary. The Learned Counsel for the respondents has argued that the charge under Section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act is unconstitutional. It is also not necessary to consider this argument. The acquittal is therefore right and the appeal is dismissed.