1. The nine appellants, who were A. 1 to A. 9 have been found guilty under Section 148, I. P. C. of waylaying one Chinna Subbi Reddi, Village Magistrate of Feddapasupala village at about 4-30 p.m. on 3-11-1949 while he was returning on a cycle to his village from Jamalamadugu and beating him with sticks and a hatchet with the result that he died in hospital the next day. Appellants 10, 11, 12 were acquitted. A. 2, who was found guilty of striking him on his head with a hatchet, has been sentenced under Section 302, I. P. C. to transportation for life. Accused 1 and 3 to 9 have been sentenced under Section 326, I. P. C. read with Section 34, I. P. C. to 5 years' rigorous imprisonment. We are unable to follow why charges were framed in the alternative under Section 34, I. P. C., while a separate charge was framed under Section 302, I. P. C. read with Section 34, I. P. C. against accused 1 to 10 and A. 12 and an alternative charge under Section 302 read with Section 149, I. P. C. against all the accused. The common object of the assailants was found by the learned Sessions Judge to be not to kill Chinna Subbi Reddi but only to cause injuries to him. Having convicted the appellants i,nder Section 148, I. P. C., the correct section to be applied was Section 149, I. P. C. and not Section 34, I. P. C.
2-10. (After discussing the prosecution evidence, their Lordships came to the conclusion that the deceased implicated his enemies with a view *o extort money from them, in his statement to the police (Ex. P4 and Ex, P6), thinking that he would survive the attack & that the police acted on this statement. The judgment then proceeded:)
11. The view we have no hesitation in taking about this case is that Chinna Subbi Reddi was attacked while he was riding his cycle back to his village by persons in ambush in cholam crops or behind bushes, who were expecting him to return and that they stoned him and that not knowing who his assailants were, though it is possible he may have identified one or two of them, he was not in a position to make any statement to P. W. 2 whom he first met after receiving his injuries, or it may be that P. W. 2 has withheld in his evidence what this Village Magistrate first told him. It may be that the attack on the village Magistrate was organised and instigated by the famfly of Eswara Reddi but it would appear from the evidence that the Village Magistrate also had other enemies in the locality. We can only conclude this case with an expression of our surprise that it was ever charged by the Police in the first instance, that it was ever committed by a Magistrate to Sessions and last but not least that it should have ended on this evidence in a conviction in a Sessions trial. The assessors in the case, who all held the accused not guilty on any charges appear to be the only persong through whose hands this case passed, who appreciated and saw through the wholly unsatisfactory nature of this prosecution. The investigating Police are primarily the guardians of the liberty of innocent persons. A heavy responsibility devolves on them of seeing that innocent persons are not charged on irresponsible and falsa implication such as that proved in this case. The object of such false implication is most unfortunately to wreak vengeance on enemies by prostituting the machinery of the criminal law to this end. Even if a case results in an ultimate acquittal, this object is achieved as in the present case with A. 11 most certainly being falsely implicated with his revolver and having to endure a trial on a murder charge up to Sessions and also a period of imprisonment. The acceptance of such complaints at their face value, supported though they be by the evidence of one or two belated omnius (?) eye-witnesses, merely puts a premium on further false implication in such cases. There is, we consider, a duty cast on the investigating police to scrutinize a first complaint in which number of persons are implicated with rigorous care' and to refrain from building up a case on its basis unless satisfied of its truth. In this case there was intrinsic evidence in the nature of the injuries themselves so wholly incompatible with Chinna Subbi Reddi's statement that they were caused by a hatchet wielded by A. 2, which alone would have justified a complete rejection of Ex. p. 4 and making no prosecution on its basis. It may be that A. 12 came into the case later as a result of some independent investigation but we should be very surprised if any such independent enquiries corroborated Chinna Subbi Reddi's account of the attach upon him either in Ex. p. 4 or P. 6. With these observations we have no hesitation in allowing this appeal, quashing the conviction and sentence and directing the appellants to be forthwith released from jail.