1. The appellant complained to the Village Reddi that as he was returning to his house, he was robbed by certain persons, whose names were mentioned by him. The Village Reddi embodied this information in his reports to the Sub-Magistrate (Exh. A) and to the Inspector (Exh. B) who went to the appellant's village and took a statement from him (Exh. C) in the hand-writing of the Kurnum, which was read over to the appellant and signed by him. His complaint was, on inquiry by the Inspector, found to be false, and he was originally charged under the second part of Section 211, Indian Penal Code, with having instituted criminal proceedings by falsely charging the persons named by him with dacoity before the Police Inspector (Exh. C).
2. The Sessions Judge who first tried the case held that Exh. C was a statement taken under Section 162, Criminal Procedure Code, and that the appellant could not be prosecuted for an offence under Section 211, Indian Penal Code, for answering questions put to him by a Police officer making an investigation under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and accordingly acquitted the appellant. In his judgment, referring to a suggestion made before him by the Public Prosecutor that the complaint to the Village Magistrate might amount to an offence under Section 211, Indian Penal Code, he held, following the case of In the matter of the Petition of Jamoona I.L.R. (1881) C. 620 that the false charge must be made to a Court or to an officer who has powers to investigate and send up for trial.
3. On appeal against this acquittal the learned Judges of this Court who heard the appeal held that ' the case is on all fours with the case Emperor v. Jonnalagadda Venkatarayudu I.L.R. (1905) M. 565 which should have been followed by the Acting Sessions Judge.'
4. The acquittal was set aside, and the Sessions Judge has now convicted the appellant of an offence under the second part of Section 211, Indian Penal Code, and the appellant has appealed from that conviction.
5. We are satisfied that Exhibit C cannot be treated as a complaint or charge. It is a statement made under Section 162, Criminal Procedure Code. The statements in Exh. C are answers to questions asked by the Police Inspector, often as if in cross-examinations. We agree with the Acting Sessions Judge that Exh. C cannot be made the basis of a prosecution for an offence under Section 211, Tndian Penal Code.
6. The next question is whether the statement to the Village Magistrate can be treated as a false charge or as an institution of a criminal proceeding.
7. In the judgment setting aside the acquittal, it is stated that the case is on all fours with the case of Emperor v. Jonnalagadda Venkatarayudu I.L.R. (1905) M. 565. This is clearly an error. In that case the question for consideration was whether the oral information given was ' information' under Section 182, Indian Penal Code. That case had no reference to Section 211, Indian Penal Code, and we have, therefore, allowed the appellant's pleader to argue whether the information given to the Village Magistrate was a ' charge ' or the institution of a criminal proceeding under Section 211, Indian Penal Code.
8. In Karim Buksh v. Queen-Empress I.L.R. (1888) C. 574 it was decided by a Full Bench of the Court that a false charge to the Police of a cognizable offence is the institution of criminal proceedings under section 211, Indian Penal Code, on the ground that from the time a person makes the charge the control of investigation or enquiry passes out of his hands into the hands of the constituted authorities, and that for the same reason a charge to the Police of a non-cognizable offence can hardly be called the investigation of criminal proceedings. See also Queen Empress v. Nunjunda Rao I.L.R. (1896) M. 79 and The Queen v. Subbanna Gaundan (1862) 1 M.H.C. 30.
9. The Village Reddi, like the Police officer to whom information of a non-cognizable offence is given, has no power to make any investigation in a case of dacoity, and for the reason given in Karim Buksh v. Queen Empress I.L.R. (1888) C. 574, therefore, the appellant cannot be held to have instituted any criminal proceedings.
10. Has he then made any false charges? The only direct authority on the point brought to our notice is the case of In the Matter of the Petition of Jamoona I.L.R. (1881) C. 62. In that case a woman charged a Non-Commissioned Officer with the offence of rape before the Station Staff Officer who had neither Magisterial nor Police powers. The High Court there held that Section an, I.P.C., will not apply on the ground ' that the false charge must be made to a Court or to an officer who had powers to investigate and send up for trial.'
11. It appears to us that this decision is right. Though the section does not state that the charge must be made before any officer entitled to investigate, that appears to be the reasonable conclusion. It is obvious that accusing a person of the commission of an offence, or giving information against him to a person other than an official, cannot be treated as a 'charge' under that section. An accusation before an official who has nothing to do with the administration of justice seems to stand on the same footing. In our opinion the test is: Was the appellant setting the criminal law in motion against the persons against whom he gave information? Under the Code he may set the criminal law in motion by preferring a charge to the Police of a cognizable offence (Section 154) or by preferring a complaint to the Magistrate (Section 191). It is not the appellant but the report of the Village Magistrate which set the criminal law in motion, and we are, therefore, of opinion that the appellant cannot be said to have made a false charge under Section 211.
12. On this ground, we set aside the conviction, allow the appeal, acquit the accused, and direct him to be set at liberty.