Arnold White, C.J. and Ralph Benson, J.
1. This is an application by the Government Pleader and the Public Prosecutor that Mr. A.G. Ganapathy Sastry and Mr. T.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer, two first grade pleaders, practising in Tinnevelly, may be suspended or dismissed tinder the provisions of Section 13 of the Legal Practitioners Act XVIII of 1879.
2. In Sessions Case No. 1 of 1908 on the file of the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge of the Tinnevelly Division, a Subramania Siva was convicted of an offence under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code and one Chidambaram Pillai was convicted of abetment of these offences. In Sessions Case No. 2 of 1908 on the file of the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge of the Tinnevelly Division, V. C. Chidambaram Pillai was convicted of offences under Section 124-A & 153-A of the Indian Penal Code. On appeal to this Court these convictions were upheld. At the trial of Sessions Case No. 2, Mr. Ganapathy Sastry and Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer were called as witnesses for the defence.
3. The evidence on which the Public Prosecutor relies in support of his application under the Legal Practitioners Act is the evidence given by the two pleaders at the trial and the evidence in connection with two hand-bills or leaflets which were put in evidence in the Sessions case. Beyond the pleader's own evidence the only evidence on which the Public Prosecutor relies was that of a Police Inspector who was. called in Sessions Case No. 1 of 1908 and who spoke to one of the hand-bills being circulated broadcast.
4. The two pleaders, when giving their evidence at the Sessions trial, did not claim privilege or object to answer any of the questions which were put to them. The answers given by them can, accordingly, be used against them under the ruling of the majority of the Judges of this Court in The Queen v. Gopal Doss 3 M. 271. The Public Prosecutor submitted that the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for abetment of sedition. The pleaders have not been prosecuted for any offence under the Indian Penal Code.
5. Section 40 of the Legal. Practitioners Act provides that no pleader shall be suspended or dismissed under the Act unless he has been allowed an opportunity of defending himself before the authority suspending or dismissing him. An order under Section 13 of the Legal Practitioners Act can only be made after notice has been given to the pleader to show cause why he should not be suspended or dismissed. The notice must, of course, formulate the charges with sufficient precision to enable the pleader to know the charges which he is called upon to meet.
6. The nature of the charge is stated in general language in paragraph 2 of the petition. But no particulars are given, and the charge is against certain Vakils including pleaders with regard to whom the Public Prosecutor did not now ask that notice to show cause should issue. The Public Prosecutor very properly admitted that before notice could go to Mr. Ganapathy Sastry and Mr. T.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer, it would be necessary to formulate the charges with greater particularity. On the hearing of the application the Public Prosecutor formulated the charges as follows:
(1) The dissemination of seditious leaflets. Copies of translations are annexed to the petition and are marked Exhibits A and B.
They were put in evidence in the Sessions case.
(2) The organizing and taking part in a seditious meeting on March 9, 1908. (At this meeting Chidambaram Pillai delivered a speech in respect of which he was convicted of an offence under Section 124 of Indian Penal Code.)
7. First, as regards T. V. Krishnaswamy Iyer's connection with the leaflets; Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer was called upon as the second witness for the defence in Sessions Case No. 2 of 1908. He stated in examination-in-chief that he was the Secretary of an Association, the object of which he described ' to ascertain the grievances of the people and represent to the authorities, if necessary, in a constitutional manner and get them redressed.'
8. The cross-examination of the witness was directed to impeaching his credit and showing that he was in sympathy with V.C. Chidambaram Pillai. The leaflet, a copy of it is annexed to the petition and marked as Exhibit B, is a notification of a procession and a meeting in connection with the release of B.C. Pal. It is signed by Sankaranarayana, Secretary.
9. It is headed 'Don't throw this leaflet please.' 'Absolute Sioaraj is our goal' i.e., 'Oar happy day,' 'Our joyful day.' Another heading is 'Vande-Mataram, Swadeshi, Boycott, Swaraj, National Education.' In cross-examination Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer said that he was Treasurer of the Committee which got up Pal's procession. He also said he did not follow the teaching of Pal. He stated that he did not get the notice printed but that he paid for it, that the notice was printed without the knowledge of the Committee and that he did not give orders to print it. He admitted the order to print was initialled by Sankaranarayana for the witness but that this was done without the witness's consent and without his knowledge. He admitted that the leaflet, a copy hereof of the translation is annexed to the petition and marked as Exhibit (A), was signed by him and that the order to print was given by him. In re-examination he gave an explanation of what he understood to be the meaning of the words absolute swaraj' which appear in the leaflet Exhibit B. and this Court disbelieved the evidence of Mr. T.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer that Chidambaram Pillai, 'Said nothing about foreign government nor anything against company in his speech at the meeting on March 9th.' The question of Mr. T.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer's connection with the leaflet Exhibit B did not arise for determination in Chidambaram Pillai's appeal to this Court and there is no finding on the question. No doubt T.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer, who was the Treasurer of the Association, paid for the printing of the notice, but we are not prepared to hold, on the admissions made by him in cross-examination, that he authorized the issue of the notice with the knowledge of its terms. The leaflet (A) is an incoherent and barely intelligible glorification of B. C. Pal and an appeal for funds in connection with the festivity on the occasion of B. C. Pal's release. The originals of both the Exhibits B and A are signed by Mr. T.R. Sankaranayana, Secretary, and Mr. Kishnaswamy Iyer admitted that Sankaranarayana was the Secretary of the Committee that got up the procession. It is difficult to see how a man of any education can have associated himself with a foolish rigmarole like the leaflet marked Ex. (A). We have little doubt that Mr. T.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer is now ashamed of having put his name to this silly effusion. If he is not, in our opinion, he ought to be. At the same time, in our opinion, the leaflet, though in the last degree foolish, is not seditious.
10. As regards the organising and taking part in the meeting of March 9 by Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer, he stated he was present at the meeting and that he attended to the lighting arrangements, and that he knew that security proceedings were going on against Chidambaram Pillai at that time.
11. We now pass to the evidence in the case, of Mr. A.G. Ganapathy Sastry. He was called as the 4th witness for the defence in Sessions Case No. 2 of 1908. His cross-examination was also directed towards impeaching his credit and showing his sympathy with Chidambaram Pillai. In his examination-in-chief he said he was present at the meeting on the 9th, accompanied by his daughter, a 5 year old child that he heard Chidambaram Pillai's speech and that he remained at the meeting from about 9-10 to about 9-45 p. m. As regards the leaflet Ex. (B) he said in cross-examination that it was not printed with his knowledge or approval and that he was not aware of its existence. He admitted that he signed the leaflet Ex. (A). We have already said all that we desire to say with reference to this document. In reply to a question from the Bench, the Public Prosecutor stated that he did not propose to adduce any evidence beyond that referred to above, by which we understood that he did not propose to adduce any further evidence to show that the pleaders aided and abetted the seditious conduct of Chidambaram Pillai or knew that the latter would make a seditious speech on the 9th March.
12. As regards the question of law referred to by the Public Prosecutor, we see no reason to take a different view from that taken in In the matter of a Pleader 26 M. 448, that is to say, that as regards the construction of Section 13 of the Legal Practitioners Act. Other reasonable cause 'mentioned in Clause (f) is not restricted to matters ejusdem generis with the matters mentioned in Clauses (a) to (e) of the section. We think the conduct of the pleaders in attending the meeting of March 9 and in putting their names to the leaflet (Ex. A) was foolish and blameworthy, but we are not prepared to say it constitutes reasonable cause' within the meaning of the section for their being suspended or dismissed.
Miller and Sankaran Nair, JJ.
13. We reserve our opinion on the question of the construction of Section 13 of the Legal Practitioners' Act. Otherwise we concur.