1. The question in this criminal revision case is whether the petitioners were rightly convioied of offences under Section 341 of the Penal Code. The facts as found are these. The petitioners apparently objected to P.W. 1 driving a cart along a path which passed in front of their house. On the day on which the offence is said to have been committed, P.W. 1 was seen by the accused to pass at about 11 a.m. and then when he returned at about 12-30 p.m. they stopped the cart and unyoked the bulls. P.W. 1 who was sitting on the shaft fell down when the bulls were unyoked. The bulls ran away and P.W. 1 proceeded on his way on foot. Accepting the evidence the learned Magistrate convicted the accused of offences under Section 341, Indian Penal Code, and sentenced them each to pay a fine of Rs. 50.
2. The argument advanced by Mr. V.C. Gopalaratnam for the petitioners is that there was no wrongful restraint within the meaning of Section 339, Indian Penal Code, because, although the cart was stopped, P.W. 1 was left free to proceed on his way on foot. The restraint, in short, it is argued, was of the vehicle and not of the person as required by Section 339, Indian Penal Code. The argument no doubt receives support from decisions of the Bombay and Calcutta High Courts vide Emperor v. Ramalala : (1912)15BOMLR103 and Durga Pada Chatterjee v. Nilmani Ghose : AIR1927Mad506 . These decisions, however, have not been followed in a series of decisions by single Judges of this Court (vide In re Peria Ponnuswami Goundan : AIR1927Mad506 , Md. Tusuf Sahib, In re : (1938)2MLJ583 , and Muthu Padayachi v. Emperor (1934) M.W.N. 620. In the case first cited Jackson, J., stated in his order:
It is argued that restraining a horse on which a person is riding is not wrongful restraint as. defined by Section 339, Indian Penal Code. If the person is prevented from proceeding at the moment of restraint the terms of the section are satisfied. It is no defence that he might have got off the horse, and walked in the same direction.
It is contended that there are other Madras decisions which are opposed to the three decisions cited and that in particular these three decisions must be taken to have been overruled by a decision of a Bench of this Court in Maharani of Nabha v. Province of Madras : AIR1942Mad539 .. I will deal with the Bench case in a moment. The other two decisions cited do not seem to me to be in conflict with the three decisions of single Judges to which reference has already been made. They are Kumbola Curuvadu v. Kristna Reddi (1915) M.W.N. 203 and Criminal Revision Case No. 125 of 1899 [Weir's Criminal Rulings, Volume I, page 340, (1905 edition) page 341]. It does not seem to me that in Kumbola Guruvadu v. Kristna Reddi (1915) M.W.N. 203, Oldfield, J., has adopted the view taken in the Calcutta High Court that to stop a cart with a man in it is restraint of the vehicle and not of the person. It appears from his judgment that it was not clear from the evidence where the cart was being driven or whether there were any people in it. Criminal Revision Case No. 125 of 1899 (Weir's Criminal Rulings, Vol. I, page 340, 1905 edition) was not a case of a cart being stopped by a person but the case of an obstruction put across a path which prevented carts in general from proceeding along that path although it did not prevent persons from stepping over it. In Maharani of Nabha v. The Province of Madras : AIR1942Mad539 ., no doubt an observation is to be found at page 716 of the judgment from which it appears that the learned Judges would have taken the view that the stoppage of a cart would not amount to the offence of wrongful restraint if the person in the cart was not restrained himself but was left at liberty to go on his way without the cart. The question, however, did not arise for decision in the case in this form as in so far as the question of wrongful restraint arose at all it was admitted that the offence had been committed. The observation was obiter and was made in the course of the discussion of the question whether the Maharani of Nabha had been wrongfully confined and not of the question whether she had been wrongfully restrained. I do not think therefore I am bound to differ from what is the general course of decisions of this Court by anything that has been said in Maharani of Nabha v. Province of Madras : AIR1942Mad539 .. With respect to the learned Judge who decided Durga Pada Chaterjee v. Nilmani Ghose : AIR1935Cal252 , referred to above, I am unable to see why the voluntary obstruction of a vehicle in which persons were travelling should not amount to the wrongful restraint of the persons in the vehicle. The fact that the person or persons may get down and then be left at liberty to proceed on their way unmolested seems to me immaterial. I agree with the observation of Jackson, J., that if the person is prevented from proceeding at the moment of restraint the terms of the section are satisfied. In that view the petitioners were rightly convicted, and I see no sufficient reason to interfere with the sentence passed.
3. The petition is therefore dismissed.