1. This petition for leave to appeal to the Privy Council is made in a case where a point of law has been reserved for the decision of the High Court. There can be no doubt then, from what is said by their Lordships in Barendra Kumar Ghosh v. The King-Emperor (1924) L.R. 52 I.A. 40 : 52 Cal. 197 : 48 M.L.J. 543 that the petition is competent. But the right of appeal given by Clause 41 of the Letters Patent is subject to the proviso that the High Court shall declare that the case is a fit one for appeal. The High Court therefore has the duty of satisfying itself, before declaring a case fit for appeal, that the case falls within the limits prescribed by the Privy Council for the entertainment of appeals in criminal matters.
2. Their Lordships of the Judicial Committee have repeatedly declared that they are not a Court of criminal appeal. In Dal Singh v. The King-Emperor (1917) L.R. 44 IndAp 137 : I.L.R. 44 Cal. 876 : 33 M.L.J. 555 they say: - 'It is well-settled that the unwritten principles of the constitution of the Empire restrain the Judicial Committee from being used in general as a Court of review in criminal cases. But while the Sovereign in Council does not interfere merely on the question whether the Court below has come to a proper conclusion as to guilt or innocence, such interference ought to take place where there has been disregard of the proper forms of legal process, grievous and not merely technical in character, or a violation of principle in such a fashion as amounts to a denial of justice'. And again - 'A mere mistake on the part of the Court below, as, for example, in the admission of improper evidence, will not suffice if it has not led to injustice of a grave character. Nor do the Judicial Committee advice interference merely because they themselves would have taken a different view of evidence admitted. Such questions are, as a general rule, treated as being for the final decision of the Courts below'.
3. The learned Advocate for the Petitioner has founded his argument in favour of the petition on two grounds. First, that a wrong construction has been put upon Section 27 of the Evidence Act, resulting in the wrongful admission of confessional statements. His second ground relates to the application of Section 167 of the Evidence Act. The construction put upon Section 27 by the majority of us has ceased to be of practical importance in the case because we have unanimously held that independently of the questioned statements there was sufficient evidence to justify the conviction. There is nothing in the Evidence Act to support the suggestion that Section 167 has no application to a case tried by a jury at the High Court Criminal Sessions. On the contrary, there is good authority that Section 167 is applicable and that the High Court in exercising its power of review under Clause 26 of the Letters Patent has full power to decide whether the evidence properly received at the trial is sufficient to sustain a conviction; see The Queen v. Hurribole Chunder Ghose I.L.R. (1876) Cal. 207, Imperatrix v.Pitamber Jina I.L.R. (1877) 2 Bom. 61 and Empress v. Patrick McGuire 4 C.W.N. 433. No doubt, as urged by the learned Advocate, important questions of law are raised in the case; but that circumstance would not, in the light of what is said by their Lordships in Dal Singh v. The King-Emperor (1917) L.R. 44 IndAp 137 : I.L.R. 44 Cal. 976 : 33 M.L.J. 555 be a valid reason for sanctioning a further appeal. Admittedly the other evidence given at the trial was properly received, and in our opinion it is sufficient to support the conviction. I think, therefore, that we should not be justified in declaring this case fit for appeal.
4. I agree.
Lakshmana Rao, J.
5. I agree.