1. This petition is preferred against an order of the District Judge of Guntur directing under Section 476-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure that a complaint be made under Sections 193 and 467 of the Indian Penal Code against the petitioner. The facts may be briefly stated as follows:--The, petitioner had executed a mortgage deed to the respondent for Rs. 8,000, and subsequently he filed a suit (O.S. No. 1136 of 1927) against third parties and applied for an interim injunction, in which application the respondent, under summons, produced the document in Court. The production was on 7th January, 1928, and an order granting the injunction, and thus terminating the proceeding in which the mortgage bond was produced, was passed two days later, on the 9th, but the bond was not taken back from the Court's custody by the mortgagee. Then some time later the respondent obtained a money decree against the petitioner in O.S. No. 164 of 1925, and proceeded to bring the mortgaged property to sale, subject to his own mortgage. The petitioner applied for a postponement of the sale, and in connection with the application asserted that the respondent had not given him credit for a sum of Rs. 6,000 which he had paid towards the discharge of the mortgage debt. This statement led to an examination of the document, which was still among the Court records, and it was found to bear an endorsement which the respondent denounced as a forgery which must have been committed after he produced the deed in Court on 7th January, 1928. He accordingly applied to the District Munsif before whom the document had been produced for an order complaining of the alleged act of forgery. The application was dismissed, but on appeal the learned District Judge has directed that a complaint should be filed under Sections 193 and 467, Indian Penal Code.
2. The question is whether the circumstances were such as to give the Court jurisdiction to complain under Sections 476 and 195, Criminal Procedure Code. It is necessary to observe in the first place, that the application was made in O.S. No. 1136 of 1927, and that that must be taken to be the 'proceedings' for the purposes of these sections. As a matter of fact the document was not even produced in the execution proceedings in O.S. No. 164, so that, so far as that proceeding is concerned, no question of the applicability of Section 195(1)(c), Criminal Procedure Code, could arise. Nor, I think, as the District Munsif observes, could it be said, with reference to Section 195(1)(b), that the offence was committed 'in or in relation to' that proceeding. The question accordingly is whether the complaint of the Court which disposed of the interlocutory application in O.S. No. 1136 was an act within its competence.
3. The power of the Court to make a complaint is derived from Section 476, Criminal Procedure Code, and the offence must be one referred to in Section 195, Sub-section (1), Clause (b) or Clause (c) 'which appears to have been committed in or in relation to a proceeding in that Court.' This latter qualification is to be found in Clause (b) of Section 195(1), but not in Clause (c). Its absence from Clause (c) cannot, however, affect the jurisdiction conferred by Section 476, so that I conclude that whether the offence be one mentioned in Clause (b) or Clause (c), it must appear to have been committed in or in relation to a proceeding before the Court that makes the complaint. And this appears to be reasonable upon general considerations. Clause (c) of Section 195, if read without reference to the terms of Section 476, would debar a Court from taking cognizance of any offence of forgery committed by a party to a proceeding in respect of a document produced or given in evidence in that proceeding, whether or not the act of forgery bore any relation to the proceeding or not, and consequently whether or not the Court before which the proceeding took place had any opportunity or occasion to deal with the circumstances into which the act of forgery entered. I do not think that that can be the intention of the clause. The connection between the Act and the proceedings must be something more than casual or accidental. The learned District Judge in the present case has indeed accepted the condition that the offence must appear to have been committed in or in relation to the proceeding. He holds that it is satisfied by the circumstance that the document, when the forgery was committed, was in the custody of the Court. Now, as has been said, the document was filed in Court by the respondent on the 7th January, 1928, and two days later the proceeding in which it was filed came to an end. It is not known when the act was committed, but since it did not come to light until more than a year had elapsed it may be presumed to relate to the period of time after the proceeding had been disposed of. The question is whether an offence of this character, committed after the proceeding has terminated, but while the document is still among the Court records, can be said to have been committed 'in or in relation to the proceeding'. The expression is, no doubt, capable of a very wide construction--a good deal wider than the words as they stood before amendment--'committed before it or brought under its notice in the course of a judicial proceeding,' application of which would certainly be decisive in the present case.
4. It is, of course, not open to argument that the offence was committed 'in' the proceeding. Was it committed 'in relation to' it? The answer must depend upon the intention with which that very general phrase may be presumed to have been used. The object of these provisions of the Code is to give the Court, and not a private party, power to make a complaint where the offence has entered as a component into some judicial proceeding. The offence need not have been committed before the Court, and it may have been committed before the proceedings began. But it seems to me indispensable that it must in some manner have affected those proceedings (see the heading of Chapter XXXV of the Code) or been designed to affect them, or come to light in the course of them, and that an offence committed after their close is wholly outside the scope of the provisions. The mere fact that the document is still in the custody of the Court may impose upon the presiding officer, as the executive head of his establishment, certain responsibilities, but they are different in kind from those of a Court acting judicially and I do not think that the inquiry which it may be his duty to make is such as is contemplated in Section 476. Documents sometimes remain in the custody of a Court for a number of years, and to relate them for this purpose to the proceeding in which they were filed would be, I think, to extend these requirements of the Code beyond reasonable limits. I am, therefore, led to the conclusion that there was no jurisdictionary basis in this case for taking action under Section 476, Criminal Procedure Code. I allow the petition, set aside the order of the District Judge and restore that of the District Munsif. The petitioner will have his costs in this Court.