1. This is a reference by the Acting Sessions Judge of North Arcot which raises the question whether under Section 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure a Magistrate can when discharging the accused order compensation to be paid to him by the person who gave information to the village Magistrate as the result of which the prosecution was launched. The facts as stated in the order of reference are that one Margasahaya Chetty made a written complaint Exhibit B to his village Magistrate charging the accused with the offence of robbery, that he, the Magistrate, sent up his usual reports to the police and to the 2nd Class Magistrate, and that the accused were thereupon prosecuted by the police, but the Sub-Divisional Magistrate who tried them discharged them under Section 253 of the Code of Criminal Procedure finding the charge against them to be false and vexatious and directed Margasahaya Chetty to pay a compensation of twenty-five rupees to each of the accused, The reference raised the question of the legality of the Order giving compensation.
2. We have heard the vakil for the complainant, who argued that this was not a 'case instituted by complaint as defined in' the Code of Criminal Procedure 'or upon information given to a police officer or to a Magistrate' by his client and therefore Section 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure did not apply. There are no doubt Conflicting rulings in this High Court on the point. See King Emperor v. Thammana Reddi I.L.R. (1901) M. 667, In re Arulanandham Pillai : (1912)22MLJ138 and Criminal Revision Case No. 627 of 1913 on the one hand, and the case of Machimuthu Chetty v. King Emperor (1914) M.W.N. 804 on the other hand. I am inclined to think that the latest ruling on the point, viz., Machimuthu Chetty v. King Emperor (1914) M.W.N. 804 which holds that in circumstances similar to those in this case the Order of compensation is competent, is correct.
3. The question has, no doubt, to be decided on the words of the section giving them their plain and natural meaning. But even so if that language is considered carefully it seems to me to cover the Order in question. The present case was undoubtedly instituted upon information given to the police and not by them of their own initiative suo motu. The fact that that information was transmitted to them by the village Magistrate cannot prevent the case from falling within the 1st part of the section. The only question then is whether Margasahaya Chetty can be held to be 'the person upon whose complaint or information the accusation was made' so that the order of compensation may be made against him under the latter part of the section. It seems to me that his information was the whole foundation of the prosecution, and that there is no straining of the language in holding that the accusation was made on the information given by him to the police when the information given by him to the village Magistrate was communicated by the village Magistrate to the police as he was bound to do under Section 45 Clause c of the Code of Criminal. Procedure, the offence alleged being a non-bailable one. In the present case the written complaint, Ex. B, was itself handed over to the Police by the village Magistrate. Though I am not prepared to go so far as my learned brother, Ayling, J. as to hold that the Full Bench decision in the Sessions Judge of Tinnevelly Division v. Sivan Chetty I.L.R. (1908) M. 258 is 'conclusive on the matter', as that case was dealing with the construction of Section 211 of the Indian Penal Code whose language is not the same as that of Section 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. I think the observations in the judgment of the majority are very relevant here. The village Magistrate thereby acted as an intermediary to pass on Margasahayam's complaint to higher constituted authorities as he was bound to do If Margasahayam is not the person upon whose information the accusation was made, the only alternative is that the village Magistrate should be held to be that person; no one has suggested that an Order of compensation can be made against him; it will be absurd to do so I therefore think that the order of compensation against Margasahayam is competent. As observed by Ayling, J. this view seems to be 'in accordance with reason and equity and the true intention of the section.'
4. I am respectfully of opinion that the case of Machimuthu Chetty v. King Emperor (1914) M.W.N. 804 is correctly decided and I follow it. I desire however to guard myself against being understood as sharing in the doubts of my learned brother Seshagiri Aiyar, J. that the term Magistrate in Section 250 may include village Magistrates, for Section 1, Clause 2(b) of the Code excludes its applicability to them. My learned brother also refers to certain transfer sections under which the High Court transfers cases from one village Magistrate to another; it is not clear what these sections are as the High Court acts under the Letters Patent, Section 29 and not under the Code in making such transfers. See Sevakolandai v. Ammayan I.LR. (1902) Mad 394.
5. The learned judges have referred to the earlier cases in their judgments in Machimuthu Chetty v. King Emperor (1914) M.W.N. 804 and I agree in their observations regarding them. It does not therefore seem necessary to refer the question to a Full Bench. I would answer the reference that it was competent for the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to have passed the order of compensation as he did. The question whether on the merits the order was justifiable is one for the Sessions Judge to decide.
6. I agree.