1. This is an appeal against the judgment of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Melur acquitting the accused and reversing the judgment of the 2nd Class Magistrate of Madura Town who had convicted the accused under Section 342, Indian Penal Code, of wrongfully confining the complainant, a judgment-debtor arrested in execution, in the decree holder's house. The first accused, an Amin of the District Court, had been entrusted by the Nazir according to the usual practice with the execution of the warrant for the complainant's arrest. 'The second accused is the decree-holders's brother and the 3rd accused is the decree-holder's son, and they were included in the charge as having helped the first accused to confine the complainant in the decree-holder's house. Assuming that he did, what we have to consider is whether it was wrongful within the meaning of Section 342, Indian Penal Code. The main question is was it authorized by the terms of the warrant? The warrant which was issued on 15th April 1905 and addressed to the Nazir directed him to arrest the complainant and to bring him before the Court with all convenient speed, and was made returnable on or before 14th June with an endorsement shewing the date of the execution or why it had not been executed. It appears to have been handed to the 1st accused on the date, of issue and pursuant to it he arrested the complainant on Saturday, April 22nd, at 9 A.M. This was during the Easter holidays when the Court was not sitting and the 1st accused is found to have taken the complainant to the decree-holder's house and to have confined 1iim there until 7-30 on the same evening when he was taken out, and again from 10 P.M. the same night until 6 (A.M.) on the following morning, when he was again taken out. This time he was not taken back, but was taken before the Nazir who apparently allowed him to go to his own house in the custody of two peons and he was only produced before the Court when it sat again on Tuesday, April 25th. In our opinion the 1st accused cannot be said to have been guilty of wrongful confinement in confining the complainant in the decree-holder's house. The arrest on Saturday the 22nd was admittedly lawful and the execution of the warrant could only be completed by bringing the complainant before the Court when it next sat on Tuesday the 25th.
2. We are unable to accept the contention that the direction in the warrant to bring the accused before the Court with all convenient speed made it his duty to take the complainant to the Court building or to the Judge of the Court at his private residence or wherever he might happen to be or to take him before the Nazir. We think that under the warrant the legal duty of the first accused was to produce the complainant at the next sitting of the Court, and that in the meantime he was responsible for his safe custody and liable among other things to a suit by the decree-holder if he allowed the complainant to escape. Under the circumstances, he was necessarily empowered to confine the complainant in the interval and the law does not prescribe where he should be confined or prohibit confinement in the decree-holder's house. In many cases the arresting officer is content to accompany the judgment-debtor to his own house and to keep him in what has been called 'in free custody' but he is under no obligation to do so.
3. In England the statute law imposes certain restrictions upon the sheriff's officer as to the places where persons under arrest may be confined (see now Section 14 of the Sheriff's Act, 1887); but there are no such provisions in this country. If the arresting officer exercises his powers harshly or objectionably he can be dealt with administratively or the law can be altered, but in the present state of the law an arresting officer who confines a judgment debtor in the decree-holder's house whilst waiting to produce him before the Court is not guilty of wrongful confinement.
4. It has been argued before us that confinement in itself lawful may be attended with such oppression as to render it wrongful within the meaning of Section 342, Indian Penal Code, but it is unnecessary to consider this question as nothing that could possibly have that effect is alleged or proved here.
5. The appeal is dismissed.