1. This Criminal Revision Petition has been posted before us for a decision upon two preliminary points.
2. The facts are that the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Pattukottai, in exercise of his powers under Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, directed the petitioners to vacate the Nagaram Palace building forthwith on the ground that the occupation caused annoyance and obstruction to the Zamindarini and was likely to cause an immediate disturbance of the public tranquillity and a riot. In accordance with this order the Palace was vacated and an application was subsequently made under Sub-section (4) of Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, to the Additional District Magistrate of Tanjore to rescind the order of the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Pattukottai. This application he rejected. The original order was dated 23rd January, 1929 and the order rejecting the petition was on the 23rd February. The petitioners then presented this revision petition. When it came on for hearing before Reilly, J., in view of the question raised, namely, whether the High Court has power to interfere in revision with orders under Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code and the importance of that question he directed that the petition should be heard by a Bench of two Judges. Another question raised before him was whether the petition is out of time because orders under Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, are in force only for two months. This question also has been left for this Bench to decide.
3. Dealing with the latter question first, on the assumption that the Sub-divisional Magistrate acted within his jurisdiction in passing the order, it cannot be questioned that, as the two months have now elapsed since the order was passed, the High Court has nothing to revise. The question as to whether or not the Sub-divisional Magistrate had jurisdiction to make the order is one of the matters raised in the petition but we are not disposing of that question here as that is not one of the preliminary questions we have to decide. In view of the fact that the High Court has now no order to revise the determination of the larger and more important question as to whether such orders are revisable would be unnecessary but for the fact that two petitions which came on recently for hearing before Anantakrishna Aiyar, J., were ordered to stand over pending the decision by us of this point and we accordingly allowed the matter to be argued.
4. It is necessary, first of all, to trace the history of Sections 144 and 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In the Code of 1861 Section 62 corresponds to the present Section 144 and Section 404 corresponds to Section 435. Section 404 reads as follows:
The Sudder Court may, on the report of a Court of Session or of a Magistrate, or whenever it thinks fit, call for the record of any criminal trial or the record of any judicial proceeding of a Criminal Court, other than a. criminal trial, in any Court within its jurisdiction, in which it shall appear to it that there has been error in the decision on a point of law, or that a point of law should be considered by the Sudder Court, and may determine any point of law arising out of the case, and thereupon pass such order as to the Sudder Court shall seem right.
5. The earliest decision upon the point we have to decide was under the Code of 1861 and that is Abbas Ali Chowdhry v. Illim Meah and Ors. (1870) 14 W.R. (Cr.) 46 (F.B.). That was a decision of a Full Bench of the Calcutta High Court which decided, Phear, J., dissenting, that an order passed by a Magistrate under Section 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not of the nature of a judicial proceeding and therefore cannot be interfered with by the High Court under Section 404 of that Code. Couch, C.J., in his judgment on page 51 in referring to Section 62 says:
The language of it seems to point out that it was intended to give the Magistrate a power to be exercised with the utmost promptitude; and, if he should make an order which he had no authority to make, and the party on whom that order is made should not obey it, and be convicted, its legality may then be tried. That is the ground upon which I have always been of opinion that this is not a judicial proceeding.
6. In the Code of 1872 Section 518 corresponds to Section 144 of the present Code and Section 520 states that orders made under Section 518 are not judicial proceedings. This latter section was obviously the result of the decision of the Full Bench of the Calcutta High Court already referred to. Under the Code of 1872 we have two decisions upon this point, namely, E.V. Ramanuja Jeeyarswami v. Ramanuja Jeeyar I.L.R.(1881) M. 354 a decision of Innes and Muthuswami Aiyar, JJ., in which it was held that proceedings under Section 518 of that Code are not revisable by the Courts as such orders were expressly declared in that Code to be not judicial proceedings and Sundram v. The Queen., Ponnuswami v. The Queen I.L.R.(1883) M. 203 (F.B.), where at page 222 Sir Charles Turner stated:
It should always be borne in mind that orders under Section 518 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1872, are not judicial proceedings, and if the High Court has power to correct them otherwise than indirectly, which is doubtful, that power can rarely be exercised in time to prevent hardship. The law in sanctioning this imperfectly controlled power is careful to provide it shall be committed only to Magistrates whose discretion is presumably guaranteed by their responsible position or by selection.
7. The next decision is one under the Code of 1882 and it is a decision strongly relied upon by Mr. Jayarama Aiyar in support of his argument that proceedings under Section 144 of the Code are judicial proceedings. That is Queen-Empress v. Tirunarasimhachari : (1895)5MLJ249 in which it was held by Sir Arthur Collins, C.J., and Parker, J., that a Magistrate making an enquiry before issue of an order under Section 144 of the Code is acting in a stage of a judicial proceeding and has, therefore, jurisdiction to direct the prosecution of a witness for giving false evidence before him at such enquiry. Under the Code of 1882, differing from the Code of 1872, proceedings under Section 144 were stated to be not proceedings. In that case Sir Arthur Collins stated:
The difficulty arises from the variation in language between Section 297 of the old Code and Section 435 of the present Code. Under the old Code powers of revision were granted to the High Court in judicial proceedings only, and the enacting of Section 520 would seem to imply that, but for that section orders under Section 518 would be 'judicial proceedings.' Section 435 of the present Code enables the High Court to call for the record of 'any proceeding before any inferior Criminal Court,' and, therefore, orders under Section 144 would certainly be subject to revision, were it not for the proviso in the third clause of the section. Under Section 4 of the present Code 'judicial proceeding' is defined to be 'any proceeding in the course of which evidence is or may be legally taken.' it seems to us impossible to deny that a Magistrate acting under Section 144 may legally take evidence before issuing an order. . . . From this it would appear that both under the old Code and under the present Code these urgent orders were regarded as in their nature 'judicial proceedings,' the only difference being that whereas under the old Code, Section 520, somewhat inaccurately declared them to be not judicial proceedings for the purpose of ousting the High Court's powers of revision under Section 297, the present Code equally bars the High Court's jurisdiction without making an illogical declaration.
8. Sir Arthur Collins, therefore, took the view that when in the Code of 1872 proceedings under Section 518 were declared not to be judicial proceedings it was not because they were not judicial proceedings but because it was intended to prevent these orders made upon sudden emergencies from being the subject of revision and the Code of 1882 by stating that they were not proceedings more accurately described them. The next Code to be considered is that of 1898 and it is similar to the Code of 1882 in that by Sub-section (3) of Section 435 orders made under Section 144 are not proceedings within the meaning of Section 435. On the 1898 Code there is a decision in Arunachalam Pillai v. Ponnusami Pillai : (1918)35MLJ454 of Sadasiva Aiyar and Napier, JJ., which is strongly relied upon by Mr. Jayarama Aiyar in support of his argument. In that case it was held that the High Court has no appellate or revisional power to interfere with the orders of a public servant except in so far as they are orders passed by the public servant in his capacity of a Court subordinate to the High Court and that an order passed by a Sub-Magistrate under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code is an order made by him in his capacity as a Court and he is also acting as a Court when he grants or refuses sanction for a prosecution for the disobedience of such order. In that case the order passed under Section 144 of the Code had been disobeyed but the Stationary Sub-Magistrate passed an order refusing sanction to prosecute the person who had disobeyed the order and Napier, J., on page 66, says:
We are clear that the Stationary Sub-Magistrate in passing this order refusing sanction was acting judicially, for the original order which it was alleged was disobeyed was an order passed tinder Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code. These orders have always been treated as judicial orders and we cannot separate the authority issuing the order from the authority granting sanction for disobedience of it.
9. When Napier, J., stated that these orders have always been treated as judicial orders he was referring to the numerous cases to which our attention has been drawn where the High Court has interfered with orders passed under Section 144 of the Code on the ground that the Magistrate had no jurisdiction to pass such orders. The High Court obviously could not in the face of the Code revise those orders but interfered on the question of want of jurisdiction alone under Section 15 of the Charter Act and Section 107 of the Government of India Act. As he points out in his judgment the High Court could have no appellate or revisional power if the Magistrate acts administratively and it is only where he acts judicially that the High Court can possibly interfere under the Charter Act or the Government of India Act. We have, therefore, this position that the High Court has always been acting under its inherent powers and interfering with Magistrates who have acted under Section 144 without jurisdiction but has been expressly prevented from revising the orders of these Magistrates under Section 435 It is argued from this by Mr. Jayarama Aiyar that it was, not because such orders were not in the nature of judicial proceedings that the power of the High Court to revise them was ousted but because it was undesirable that the discretion of Magistrates acting very often on a sudden emergency should be revised by the High Court and that whereas in 1872 such 'proceedings were said not to be judicial proceedings' in 1882 they were said not to be proceedings within the provisions of Section 435 and the same under the Code of 1898, that bar to the High Court has now been removed by the Code of 1923 where Sub-section (3) of Section 435 has been omitted.
10. We now come to the Code of 1923. But before doing so there is another case to which reference has been made which, although it was decided in 1923, was before the Code of that year came into force. That is Nataraja Pillai v. Rangaswami Pillai : (1923)44MLJ328 a decision of Ayling and Ramesam, JJ. The facts in that case were that a Sub-divisional Magistrate passed an order under Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, prohibiting certain persons from interfering with a religious ceremony. On disobedience of that order he sanctioned their prosecution for an offence under Section 188, Indian Penal Code, and it was held that the Magistrate was not, when passing the order under Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, acting as a Court within the meaning of Clause (7) of Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code, but was only acting as a public servant and hence the proper appellate authority to revoke the sanction was not the Sessions Court but the District Magistrate as provided by Clause (6) of Section 195. The decision of Sadasiva Aiyar and Napier, JJ., in Arunachalam Pillai v. Ponnusami Pillai : (1918)35MLJ454 was not followed. The Court followed the Calcutta Full Bench case and also relied on Sundram v. The Queen, Ponnuswami v. The Queen I.L.R.(1883) M. 203 (F.B.). But that was a decision under the Code of 1872 which expressly stated that proceedings under the corresponding section to Section 144 were not judicial proceedings and the Full Bench in that case could not possibly therefore have held that the proceedings were judicial proceedings. Moreover, the judgment in Nataraja Pillai v. Rangaswami Pillai : (1923)44MLJ328 does not deal with the other aspect of the case presented by Napier, J., namely, that such orders must be judicial orders and not administrative, for otherwise the High Court could not interfere in those cases where the Magistrate has acted without jurisdiction, whereas the High Court has invariably done so under the Charter Act and the Government of India Act. No doubt most of the orders passed by a Magistrate do not in the least seem to be judicial proceedings, and Ayling, J., gives such an instance on page 59, Then came the Code of 1923 and there Sub-section (3) to Section 435 is omitted and one question to be considered by us is, what is the effect of that omission? There have been two decisions with regard to this question under that Code (1) Vedappan Servai v. Periannan Servai : AIR1928Mad1108 and (2) Suthadi Alaga Thevar v. G. A. Baker, which is reported in a foot-note to the former report. The former decision is one of Ramesam, J., and the latter is one of Reilly, J., following Nataraja Pillai v. Rangaswami Pillai : (1923)44MLJ328 already referred to In Vedappan Servai v. Periannan Servai : AIR1928Mad1108 , Ramesam, J., held that no revision lies to the High Court against an order passed under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code as the Magistrate acting under that section is not a Court and the amendment of Section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code by the omission of Clause (3) from that section has not the effect of permitting a revision to the High Court from such an order, though it has the effect of permitting a revision from an order under Section 145. On page 623, Ramesam, J., states:
It seems to me that as to Section 144, Clause (3), Section 435 was somewhat redundant and only made matters clear. Even without it, it is doubtful whether Section 435 applies. There is nothing in Section 144 to indicate that the Magistrate acting under that section is a Court as in the case of Section 145.
11. He was referred to a decision of the Privy Council in Clarke v. Brojendra Kiskore Roy Chowdhury but in his opinion that case did not help the petitioner because it only showed that in some parts of the Code the words 'Courts' and 'Magistrates' are used interchangeably and that under Section 96 a Magistrate issuing search warrants was acting as a Court but this did not conclude the matter as to Section 144. The Privy Council case is reported in Clarke v. Brojendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury and, in our view, it is a decision strongly in support of Mr. Jayarama Aiyar's contention. There the District Magistrate issued a search warrant in connection with the investigation of some offence. A suit for trespass against him was instituted but it was held by the Privy Council that by Section 36, Schedule III, and Section 96 of the Criminal Procedure Code the power of issuing a search warrant was among the 'ordinary powers' of the District Magistrate and therefore under Section 105 he had power to direct a search to be made in his presence if he thought it advisable to do so. Lord Macnaghten in delivering the judgment of the Judicial Committee referred to Section 36 of the Criminal Procedure Code which is as follows:
All District Magistrates, Sub-divisional Magistrates, and Magistrates of the first, second, and third classes have the powers hereinafter respectively conferred upon them and specified in the Third Schedule. Such powers are called their 'ordinary powers'.
12. Section 36 is in Chapter III which is headed 'Powers of Courts,' When Schedule III is referred to it will be seen that under Part IV of that schedule which is headed 'Ordinary Powers of a Sub-divisional Magistrate' Clause (6) is power to make orders under Section 144. On page 176, Lord Macnaghten states:
For the sake of brevity the Code uses the terms 'Court' and 'Magistrate' generally, if not always as convertible terms.
13. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that this case decides that every act done by a Magistrate in pursuance of the powers given to him by Section 36 and Schedule III is done by him as a Court, particularly when it is remembered that the chapter is headed 'Powers of Courts.' The present Code like the Code of 1898 and that of 1882 merely speaks of 'proceedings' and not 'judicial proceedings' so that it is not necessary really to consider anything more than the power of the High Court to revise a 'proceeding before an inferior Criminal Court.' Although judicial proceedings are defined in the Code as including 'any proceeding in the course of which evidence is or may be legally taken on oath,' it was admitted in argument before us that it may sometimes be necessary for the Magistrate before issuing an order under Section 144 to take evidence on oath, so that, even if that test is applied, it would appear that these proceedings may be judicial proceedings. It is quite true that in the Calcutta Full Bench case such proceedings were held not to be judicial proceedings, but that decision was not unanimous and it was undoubtedly in consequence of it that the Code of 1872 described such proceedings as not judicial. The decision of the Full Bench of this Court in Sundram v. The Queen, Ponnuswami v. The Queen I.L.R.(1883) M. 203 (F.B.) could not have been otherwise than it was, as we have already stated, because the Code of 1872 stated that such proceedings were not judicial proceedings. There is also the other description to be applied, namely, 'proceedings of an inferior Criminal Court.' The Privy Council case, in our view, makes such proceedings, proceedings of a Court, so that that description is also applicable. If this is so, then we are bound to take a different view to that of Ramesam, J., in the case in Vedappan Servai v. Periannan Servai : AIR1928Mad1108 , where he says that Clause (3) to Section 435 was redundant. What is the effect of the omission of that clause in the present Code? We cannot say that that omission was unintentional. We have to take the Code as it is. Up to the present Code, from 1872 until 1923, a ban was placed upon the High Court's power of revision with regard to proceedings under Section 144. Now that ban has been removed. It may have been unintentionally removed but we are not concerned with that. We must hold that the effect of that commission is that the ban is removed and that the High Court has now power to revise such orders. We are aware that, if this decision is right, it may lead to most unfortunate consequences. It is obvious that the Magistrate has most frequently to act in an emergency and that it will be a disaster, if, when he does make an order, a Criminal Revision Petition is at once presented to the High Court and a stay order applied for. We come to the decision we have with great regret and only say that, if Clause (3) to Section 435 was omitted by mistake, we hope that legislation will as soon as possible restore it, at any rate as far as Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code is concerned.
14. Petition is dismissed as the order expired before the petition was presented.