1. These two matters have come up for orders before me today at the instance of the office. The facts were briefly these :
2. Two women called Saroja, aged 24, and Alagu, aged 22, were convicted under Section 12(1) of the Madras Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Pudukottai, in C. C. Nos. 86 and 87 of 1958, on his file and were directed to be detained in the Vigilance Home, Madras, in lieu of imprisonment, for three years and four years respectively. They were found loitering opposite to the Madurai Lodge in Thirumayam Road in Pudu-kottai Town, at midnight on 9-5-1958, and soliciting people for promiscuous sexual intercourse.
One of the men so solicited was P.W. 2, Senthil Nathan a merchant printing books. P.W. 3 was repelled at the shameless solicitation to him or sexual intercourse by these women, and so did not accede to their wishes P.W. 1, the Sub-Inspector of Police, Taluk Station, who was going along the street, arrested tbe two women, and, after investigation, charge-sheeted them.
3. The learned Public Prosecutor, on going through the records, found that the convictions and sentences of both these women under the Madras Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Pudukottai, were illegal, as on 1-5-1958, the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Wo-men and Girls Act, 1956 (Central Act CIV of 1956) had come into force, superseding the Madras Act, which automatically lapsed on 1-5-1938.
4. On his filing these two criminal revision cases for quashing the convictions and sentences, the office asked him to file petitions for excusing the delay, under Rule 185 of the Criminal Rules of Practice, as he had filed these two petitions beyond the pre-scribed 90 days. The learned Public Prosecutor represented to the office that in cases of such illegal deten-tion, where the persons illegally convicted and detained had to be released forthwith under the law, the limitation of 90 days would not apply, and petitions for excusing the delay need not he filed. The office thought that the limitation period would apply to all cases of belated revision. Then the learned Public Prosecutor requested the matter to be posted before Court. That is how these matters have come before me.
5. I have heard the learned Public Prosecutor. I have absolutely no doubt that, in the circumstances of these cases, the learned Public Prosecutor need not file any petition under Rule 185 of the Criminal Rules of Practice to excuse the delay. These are cases where persons have been detained unlawfully, having been illegally convicted and sentenced under an Act which was no longer in force, it is clearly the duty of the learned Public Prosecutor, the moment he came to know of such illegal detention, to bring it to the notice of this Court, so that this Court may forthwith interfere in revision, and order the release of those illegally detained.
The liberty of person of the subject is of para-mount importance, and Courts are especially inte-rested in it. The Public Prosecutor, being an Officer of Court, has not only the right but the duty to bring such illegal detention to the notice of the Court, so that it may be set right at once. To make him file a peition for excusing the delay, instead of thanking him for bringing the matter to the notice of the Court, is, in my opinion, inexpedient and unwarranted by the law or the rules.
Of course, if a private party complains that he or she is illegally detained, and flies a criminal revision petition, after the prescribed period of 90 days, he or she will have to file a petition for excusing the delay, though, in the case of illegal detention, the petition will be automatically allowed by the Court. The Public Prosecutor does not stand in the position of a private party.
He has got some duties and privileges under the law, and one of these duties is to bring cases of illegal detention to the notice of the Court, and one of his rights is not to be compelled to file a petition to excuse the delay in filing such a revision case. It is obvious that such cases come to the notice of the learned Public Prosecutor not at once, but only after some delay. To increase such delay, by asking him to file a petition for excusing the delay, is against all sense and commonsense.
In this view, I direct these criminal revision cases to be numbered at once, and interfere in revision in both the cases, and set aside the convictions and sentences of both these women, and direct them to be set at liberty forthwith. There is no need, in my opinion, in the circumstances, to order a fresh trial of these women under the Central Act (Act 104 of 1956).