1. These criminal revision cases arise out of convictions under Section 18(1) of the Indian (Press Emergency Powers) Acts, 1931. Criminal revision cases Nos. 926, 929 and 930 of 1935 are in respect of the judgment of the Sessions Judge of Guntur dismissing the appeals against the order of conviction by Mr. Strathie, District Magistrate of Guntur : and Criminal revision cases Nos. 927 and 928 of 1935 relate to convictions by the third Presidency Magistrate, Egmore, Madras.
2. The petitioners were convicted of the offence of having distributed unauthorised news-sheets in Guntur and Madras respectively and were sentenced on conviction to simple imprisonment for six months. The points arising in these cases have been dealt with in one common argument and can be disposed of in one judgment.
3. The petitioners in all these cases were members of a body known as the Labour Protection League; and as regards the the Guntur prosecution, one of them is the President, another the Secretary and the third the Joint Secretary of that body there and in Madras the petitioners are members of it. As regards the Guntur cases, the charge was that the petitioners distributed in Guntur two unauthorised news-sheets namely, pamphlets No. 6 and 7 and in the Madras case the same pamphlets were distributed by the Madras petitioners.
4. The questions for consideration are whether these pamphlets are 'news-sheets' within the meaning of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act and whether these pamphlets come within the terms of Section 4 (1)(d) of the Act as amended by the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932, namely as tending directly or indirectly to bring into hatred or contempt the Government established by law in British India or the administration of justice in British India or any class or section of His Majesty's subjects in British India or to excite disaffection towards His Majesty or the said Government, the publication and distribution of the pamphlets having been proved by the evidence of the prosecution witnesses.
5. The two pamphlets in question are part of a series issued by the Labour Protection League; and of the pamphlets, the subject of the charges, namely, Nos. 6 and 7, No. 6 is entitled 'Deception practised by the rich and the difficulties they bring upon the poor' and No. 7 is a drama. Before any reference is made to the matters set out in these two pamphlets, we have to consider whether they come within the definition in the Act of 'news-sheet'. The definition section is Section 2 and in Sub-Section (6) 'news-sheet' is defined as follows:
'News-sheet' means any document other than a newspaper containing public news or comments on public news or any matter described in Sub-Section (1) of Section 4.
6. It is also necessary to refer to Sub-Section (1) as the petitioners' contention is that the pamphlets in question fall within the definition of 'book' in that sub-section and not within Sub-Section (6). Sub-Section (1) reads as follows:
'book' includes every volume, part or division of a volume, pamphlet and leaflet, in any language, and every sheet of music, map, chart, or plan separately printed or lithographed.
7. The petitioners' argument is that these pamphlets are not 'news-sheets' as defined in Sub-Section (6) but are pamphlets or leaflets coming within the definition of 'book' in Sub-Section (1) and that the two sub-sections are mutually exclusive. Turning to Sub-Section (6), the pamphlets in question certainly are not newspapers but they are clearly documents and if they contain any matter described in Sub-Section (1) of Section 4 of the Act as amended, they come within the definition of 'news-sheet', that is to say, words, signs or visible representations which have the tendency to which we have already referred. One other sub-section must be referred to and that is Sub-Section (10) to Section 2, which defines ' unauthorised news-sheet' as being 'any news-sheet other than a news-sheet published by a person authorised under Section 15 to publish it'. It is beyond question that the authority specified was not obtained in any of the cases. Mr. Jagannadha Doss on behalf of the petitioners in the course of his able and strenuous argument contended that what is 'intended by a 'news-sheet' is something having some news value; and in support of his argument relied upon Jitendralal Banerji v. Emperor (1933) I.L.R. 60 Cal. 1089 where it was held that information which concerns matter of public and topical interest as contrasted with purely historical interest is public news and that information conveyed by photographs of persons in the Chittagong armoury raid, though discovered more than two years after the raid, the legal proceedings and emergency measures arising out of it not having terminated, is public news and such photographs are news-sheets within the meaning of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act. Pankridge, J., goes for assistance to the definition of 'news' in the Oxford English Dictionary which is as follows:
Tidings; the report or account of recent events or occurrences brought or coming to one as new information; new occurrences as a subject of report or talk
and is of the opinion that the information conveyed by the photographs in question was of that description and that the photographs were 'news-sheets' within the meaning of Sub-Section (6) to Section 2. But he further added that it was not necessary to consider whether they were news-sheets as containing matter described in Sub-Section (1) of Section 4. This case, therefore, leaves that important question open though it suggests that they may be. We are of the opinion that the Sub-Sections (1) and (6) in Section 2 are not mutually exclusive and that although the pamphlets in question come within Sub-Section (1) they will also come within Sub-Section (6) if they contain any matter described in Section 4(1) as amended. It is necessary therefore to consider the latter question: and, before doing so, we refer to the pamphlet No. 9 which sets out in 25 clauses the requirements of coolies and also in 10 clauses the reasons why a labour union is necessary. They are as follows:
(1) for safeguarding the rights of labourers;
(2) for earning wages commensurate with labour;
(3) for determining the number of working hours and the wages appropriate to the same;
(4) to end competition between labourers;
(5) to settle the internal disputes amongst themselves;
(6) to be educated through, journals and books as regards the working of labour unions in other countries:
(7) for improving education and knowledge;
(8) for labourers to become united and to acquire self-respect like others;
(9) to save themselves from the exploitation of rich people and
(10) to drive away the demon of poverty.
8. No objection at all can be taken to any of those objects provided that proper means are taken to achieve them. We will now refer to pamphlet No. 6. As before-stated this is headed 'Cheating or deceipt practised by the wealthy, and the hardships which they inflict', and the following passages are to be discovered in that pamphlet:
We shall try to know in this pamphlet who is the cause for all the miseries in this world, namely, for ignorance, poverty, adultery resulting therefrom, for famine and for injustice. Wherever you see in this world, unless the labourer works and sweats either millionaire or multi-millionaires or land-owners of Zamindars cannot : sit with cross-legs and enjoy happiness. The wealthy have in their hands for their selfish profit the machinery and other implements and use the labourers simply as pawns.
The wealthy divide the labourers, create quarrels between them and get them thrashed to death'. 'For the fierce wars that take place in this world the wealthy are the cause.
In these times Governments speak only in favour of the fatty-growing and lazy people who earned lakhs and crores. They do not encourage nor even think of those who live by just means undergoing all sorts of difficulties and sweating with work day and night. Governments work in favour of the wealthy, that is, moneyed class. Therefore war with other countries is inevitable. Al the trade and commerce are in the hands of the rich. If any obstruction is caused by foreign countries to their trade, they cause war by deceitful means. By whom? By innocent coolies and by drunken and drugged army.
The wealthy and their Governments use many strategems lo prevent the poor from revolting.
The rich are responsible for our poverty.
Injustice, deception and devilish deeds are in the rich.' 'Machinery which prepare all things, factories having machinery, buildings, lands, railways, steamers, aeroplanes, gold, silver, copper, iron and other mines and banks must all come into the control of the coolies.
We have got the power of upsetting the world.
9. Pamphlet No. 7 is a story or a drama in which the following actors amongst others appear : Sait Luti Doss (meaning-plunder) Kunhilal (murder) a big mill owner : Goonda Bhai (rowdy) : Chori Lal (theft); Karunakar (socialist male cooly); Leelavati (his wife) : coolies in the mill and women coolies. This drama opens with a scene on the Swarajya maidan. A meeting has been held to praise the charitable deeds of the factory owner Sait Lutidas Kunhilal. The socialist agitator interrupts it by singing the necessity for union among coolies and by lecturing on the false charities of Sait Lutidas Kunhilal and by exhorting the workers against the rich. He gains over the other coolies and the meeting breaks up. In scene 2 millowner Sait Lutidas Kunhilal discusses with his servants his plans for debauching the wife of Karunakara and other female coolies in the mill. There is an impassioned speech by the wife Lakshmi in which she says 'the rich under the mask of God rob us of our wealth, lives and chastity. She is interrupted by cries of 'murder'. The corpse of another woman coolie Subbamma seduced and murdered by the mill-owner is found and taken over by the police. Lakshmi makes another speech in which she says that the organisers of the political meeting have the support of the Government and rob the wealth, respect (chastity) and life of the poor coolies. The millowner and his servants discuss their plans to conceal the murder of the woman Subbamma and the corruption of Lakshmi. The millowner says
If we bribe the case will go. The Government is ours,
10. Scene 3 depicts the organisation of a strike, songs by Karunakara in which the rich are referred to as royal highway robbers of innocent people. The Reserve police come to disperse the strikers. Karunakara argues with them and the millowner replies 'Ho, fool, Government is ours. It is intended to safeguard our lives.' Scene 4 is in a Court-hall. Karunakara argues with the judge saying
you create differences among us and make us kill one another. You are outraging the modesty of my women and committing murders. You speak on behalf of the rich.
11. The judge threatens Karunakara with a charge of bringing a false accusation. The police proceed to the bungalow of the mill-owner and find Lakshmi wrongfully confined there Because he is poor, Karunakara can prove nothing.
The millowner on account of his riches did as he pleased and people respected him. If the poor want to substantiate, wealth eclipsed justice, nobody dare put up a case against the Sait.
12. The enquiry however commenced against him. Lakshmi gives her evidence but the Sait is let off as innocent and Karunakara and other strike leaders are convicted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Karunakara thought 'this is all due to effect of wealth'. The following words by Lakshmi are worthy of remark:
Everyone bearing false titles, deceiving the people outwardly pretending to be working against the Government and giving lectures but secretly with the support of the Government, robbing the wealth, chastity and the lives of the poor.
13. There is also this statement:
Even if by chance the matter comes to Court, there is no fear. If money is scattered for bribes, the case will vanish. Is not the Government also ours?
14. These are the words of the Sait to his friends. The administration of justice of course is represented by the Judge who conducts the trial in a very prejudiced manner and is depicted as having unjustly acquitted the Sait who had been charged with seduction and wrongful confinement, observing that he is a very famous person, a leader of the people, a great donor, a pious man and that the crime imputed to him is not satisfactorily proved and that it had been fabricated by his enemies. With the labour strikers the judge deals very heavily. He convicts them and awards imprisonment of from 3 to 6 years each and an additional year to Karunakara for having brought a false case against the Sait which causes Karunakara to think 'the power of money--all this'. We may at once say that the administration of justice thus depicted is clearly brought into hatred and contempt. We have to consider the class of persons amongst whom these pamphlets were distributed, namely, mill-hands at Guntur and scavengers in Madras. They were all of the cooly class most of whom are entirely uneducated. What effect could this have upon their minds other than arousing feelings of hatred and contempt for the administration of justice which is depicted as being on the side of the rich and susceptible to bribes. On that ground alone we are satisfied that pamphlet No. 7 is a 'news-sheet', as defined in Section 2(6) of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act as containing matter which tends directly or indirectly to bring into hatred or contempt the administration of justice in British India: and it would not be necessary to consider the questions of whether the words had the tendency to bring into hatred or contempt the Government or any class or section of His Majesty's subjects in British India, but we will nevertheless consider them. The lower Courts have taken the view that the words had that tendency both as regards Government and the class or section of His Majesty's subjects in British India; and as regards the former, we are clearly of the view that there has been an attack upon the Government in that Government is charged with siding the rich, and the rich and Government are depicted as the two enemies of labour and susceptible of taking bribes. It is a charge of gross partiality against Government and, addressed as it is to uneducated persons, it is likely to inspire in them feelings of hatred and contempt towards the Government. The more difficult question is whether there has been an attack upon any definite and ascertainable class of His Majesty's subjects and in this connection reference was made to Emperor v. Maniben Kara I.L.R (1932) 57 Bom. 253, which was a criminal appeal from a conviction by the Chief Presidency Magistrate of Bombay of the appellant under Sections 124-A and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code. The words in Section 153-A are 'between different classes of His Majesty's subjects whereas the words in question here are 'class or section'. In that case in a speech addressed to labourers the appellant had attacked the 'capitalists' but it was held by Beaumont, C.J., and Nanavati, J., that 'capitalists' are not a sufficiently defined class and that the description 'capitalist' is altogether too vague a phrase to denote a definite and ascertainable class so as to come within Section 153-A, of the Indian Penal Code. But Beaumont, C.J., held that the attack upon Government brought the case under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code. In this case, however, we have not got to deal with an attack upon 'capitalists' but upon the rich more definitely referred to in the pamphlets as Zamindars, Millowners, and landowners; and in the drama the class attacked is clearly the mill owning class: and we are informed that in Guntur there are 30 mills and factories employing 7,000 coolies amongst whom the pamphlets were distributed. Upon this point we get assistance from a decision of the Allahabad High Court namely, Ram Saran Das Johri v. Emperor*. There, a pamphlet definitely referred on the one side to the kisan labourers in the District of Muttra who labour in the fields and factories and on the other hand the rich persons, Zamindars, bankers and petty shop-keepers. Bennet, J., held that the classes referred to in the pamphlet were sufficiently well-defined for the purpose of Section t6 of the Press (Emergency Powers) Act of 1931 as amended by the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1932. In this Judgment the decision of the Bombay High Court in Emperor v. Maniben Kara I.L.R (1932) 57 Bom. 253, is referred to and distinguished. Bennet, J., says that 'the word 'capitalist' has not been used in the present pamphlet and therefore the particular difficulty which occurred in the Bombay ruling does not arise. The pamphlet however definitely refers on the one side to the kisan labourers in the District of Muttra who labour in the fields and factories and on the other hand to the rich persons, the zamindars, the bankers and the petty shop-keepers. I do not think that there is any difficulty in holding that the classes referred to in the pamphlet are sufficiently well-defined for the purpose of the section in question.' This case is also of importance on the question as to whether the pamphlets come within the definition of 'news-sheets' in the Act and Bennet, J., says:
If the pamphlet comes within the kind of pamphlet described as promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes then the pamphlet becomes a news-sheet and a person who publishes or distributes that news-sheet will be guilty of publishing an unauthorised news-sheet under Section 18, and punishable with six months imprisonment or fine.
and he held that the pamphlet was of such a nature. The view expressed by Bennet, J., upon both points is, in our opinion, correct and therefore the rich as more definitely described as zamindars, mill-owners and land-owners form a sufficiently ascertained class to satisfy the requirements of the Act. The attack upon this class was clearly one which would tend in the hands of uneducated readers amongst whom the pamphlets were distributed to bring His Majesty's subjects into hatred and contempt. The news-sheets therefore tended to bring into hatred and contempt (1) Government established by law in British India (2) the administration of justice in British India and (3) a class or section of His Majesty's subjects in British India, within Section 4 (1) of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act of 1931 as amended by the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1932, Section 16. It is conceded that if these pamphlets come under Sub-Section (d) of the latter Act, explanation 4 is of no application.
15. The objects of the league were no doubt quite unobjectionable, but those objects could not possibly be advanced by an attack such as is contained in the pamphlets. The language employed is highly inflammatory and the facts are grossly exaggerated and distorted. There is no fair discussion of the coolies' case. It is wholly an attack on Government, the administration of justice and a class.
16. The petitioners were all rightly convicted. The offence is a very serious one and when Mr. Jagannadha Doss was asked whether his clients or any of them were prepared to express their regret for their conduct, he stated that he had no instructions from them to do so: and this being so, we see no reason whatever for reducing the sentence. The petitions will be dismissed. The petitioners must surrender to their bail.