1. We consider that the accused was properly acquitted. It is not denied that Kolundavelu Pillai was acquitted of the offences of house-breaking and theft, and that he was not liable to legal punishment. But it is contended that it is not necessary that an offence should be actually committed, or that the person charged should be really liable to be punished for such offence. We do not, however, think that it was the intention of the legislature to punish the giving of gratifications, under a delusion that an offence had been committed or that a person was guilty of such offence. The words 'concealing an offence' and 'screening any person from legal punishment for any offence' appear to us to presuppose the actual commission of an offence or the guilt of the person screened from punishment.
2. The cases cited by Mr. Mayne under Sections 213 and 214, Indian Penal Code [Regina v. Best 2 M.C.C. 124], Rex v. Richard Gotley (Russ. & R., 84), were decided under 18, Elizabeth, chapter V, Section 4, in which the words 'upon colour or pretence of any matter of offence' were used. We are of opinion that the decision Empress of India v. Abdul Kadir I.L.R. 3 All. 279, Queen-Empress v. Fateh Singh I.L.R. 12 All. 432, and Matuki Misser v. Queen-Empress I.L.R. 11 Cal. 619, which have reference to the construction to be placed upon similar words in Section 201 apply to this section also. The Public Prosecutor draws our attention to Queen v. Hurdut Surma 8 W.R. Cr. Rul. 68 wherein the same expression was differently construed with reference to Section 218 of the Indian Penal Code, but that section has reference to public servants who disobey a direction of law.
3. As pointed out by Jackson, J., in Queen v. Joynarain Patro 20 W.R. Cr. Rul. 66, we think the intention was to discourage malpractices, when offences have really been committed, or when persons really guilty are screened, and not to ensure general veracity on the part of the public in regard to imaginary offences or offenders. We therefore decline to interfere.