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In Re: P.T. Vadivel Goundar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Case No. 936 of 1950
Judge
Reported inAIR1952Mad299; (1952)IMLJ69
ActsEvidence Act, 1872 - Sections 25 and 26; Madras Prohibition Act, 1937 - Sections 4(1)
AppellantIn Re: P.T. Vadivel Goundar
Advocates:K.S. Jayarama Aiyar, Adv. for ;C.K. Venkatanarasimham, Adv.;Asst. Public Prosecutor
Cases ReferredVenkata Reddi v. Emperor
Excerpt:
- .....the petitioner who gave a statement to the prohibition inspector stating that he was taking those brandy bottles for being given as medicine to his wife during her expected confinement. the question, however, is whether that statement is admissible wider sections 25 and 26 of the indian evidence act. both the lower courts held that it was admissible and convicted the petitioner. the learned sessions judge held, however, that the circumstances were such that imprisonment was not justified, and that the confiscation of the petitioner's van was not also justified as it could not be said to have been used for carrying these two small bottles of brandy which simply happened to be carried in it by the petitioner.3. though several contentions were raised before the learned sessions judge, and.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Panchapakesa Ayyar, J.

1. This is a petition to revise the judgment of the Sessions Judge, Mathurai, dated 8-4-1950, in C. A. No. 37 of 1950, confirming the conviction of the petitioner, Vadivel Goundar, a manof Travancore, under Section 4 (1) (a) of the MadrasProhibition Act, but setting aside the sentence ofsimple imprisonment for one month and the orderof confiscation of his motor van in which he wascarrying the bag containing the two bottles ofbrandy.

2. The facts are briefly these. The petitioner, Vadivel Goundar, is a man of Kottayam, in Travancore-Cochin State, and owns some estates there. He was caught hold of on Gudalur-Cumbum road at 9 p.m., on 28-11-1949, in Indian Union territory, by the Prohibition Inspector of Police, P.W. 1, and his staff, and two bottles of brandy were recovered from a bag kept on the rear set near him by the petitioner who gave a statement to the Prohibition Inspector stating that he was taking those brandy bottles for being given as medicine to his wife during her expected confinement. The question, however, is whether that statement is admissible wider Sections 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act. Both the lower Courts held that It was admissible and convicted the petitioner. The learned Sessions Judge held, however, that the circumstances were such that imprisonment was not justified, and that the confiscation of the petitioner's van was not also justified as it could not be said to have been used for carrying these two small bottles of brandy which simply happened to be carried in it by the petitioner.

3. Though several contentions were raised before the learned Sessions Judge, and were considered by him and negatived, in this Court, Mr. Jayarama Aiyar, for the petitioner, has raised only one contention before me during the arguments, dropping all the rest. That contention is that a Prohibition Officer styling himself 'Inspector of Police' will be 'a police officer' within the meaning of Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act, and, so, the confessional statement made to him by the petitioner will be inadmissible in evidence and that if it is inadmissible there will be no proof that these two brandy bottles were found in the possession of the petitioner, as there were also some other people travelling in the van then. I cannot agree with either head of the argument. I do not consider that an Inspector of Police, Prohibition, w be 'a police officer' within the meaning of Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act, as the law stands now in this State, though he has practically all the powers of a police officer, and, if the position were not directly covered by authority, the point is quite arguable. Rajamannar, J., (as he then was) has held in 'Venkata Reddi v. Emperor', 1947 MWN Cr. 120 that a Prohibition Sub-Inspector cannot be deemed to be a police officer within the meaning of Section 25 of the Evidence Act and that a confessional statement made to him is not inadmissible in evidence. I will follow that view till the Legislature enacts otherwise, or the Supreme Court or Full Bench, in similar cases, holds otherwise. As the learned Public Prosecutor urged, the only view possible, under the above ruling, in this case, where the officer to whom the confession was made was 'not a police officer at any time' but was only an Excise Officer originally and later on became a Prohibition Inspector, is that the confession is admissible. The mere title of 'Inspector of Police, Prohibition, Sub-Inspector of Police, Prohibition', assumed by P.Ws. 1 and 3, or given to them, is, in my opinion, 'irrelevant', as, in these days of democracy, every one wants a more 'dignified title', 'process-servers' aspiring to be called 'bailiffs', 'clerks' aspiring to be called 'assistants', 'peons' aspiring to be called 'messengers', etc. In fact, nothing much turns on a name, and in view of the above ruling directly covering the point, and in view of the admission of Mr. Jayarama Aiyar that the powers of arrest etc., have not been conferred on Prohibition Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors subsequent to that ruling and making a difference to the view taken therein, the confession is admissible. This is not also a suitable case for reference to a Full Bench on the point as possession of the liquor by the petitioner is proved even otherwise. I hold that the confession in question Is admissible. Mr. Jayarama Aiyar at first thought that P.W. l was an Inspector of Police 'translated' into Inspector of Police, Prohibition, but he had to admit later on that he was wrong, as P.W. 1 was never in the police at any time.

4. Even apart from the confessional statement, as already said, I hold that the evidence on record is quite enough to prove the possession of these brandy bottles by the petitioner. The petitioner was the owner if the van, which was exclusively his, and the brandy bottles were found in a bag kept by his side and close to where he alone sat. Just as the head of a house-hold, or theowner of a vehicle is held liable for liquor bottlesetc., found inside the house or vehicle exclusivelyin his possession, unless he proves that he wasnot responsible for their presence there and thatsomebody else introduced them there, the petitioner will be held liable for the possession of thesebrandy bottles found in his van, and by his side,unless he proves otherwise. He never tried toprove anything otherwise except his statement toP.W. 1 (the genuineness of which was proved andhas not been disputed before me, only the admissibility being questioned) that he was carrying themfor the use of his wife during confinement, andhis statement in Court that no brandy was foundat all by P.W. 1 in the van during the search,which latter statement is proved to be false bythe evidence of P.Ws. 1 to 3. I confirm the petitioner's conviction as the. evidence on record is,quite sufficient to warrant it. Mr. Jayarama Aiyarpleaded for a lessor fine. I agree. I see no reasonto disbelieve the petitioner's statement that he wascarrying these two small half bottles of brandyonly for the use of his Wife during confinement. Apractice of giving brandy to women during deliveryseems to have been followed in Travancore in pre-prohibition days. In that view, the sentence of afine of Rs. 500, especially on a Travancorean unaccustomed to prohibition in those days, and accustomed to take brandy and every other kind ofliquor freely in those days, for a first offence, istoo heavy. After hearing the Public Prosecutoralso on the point, I reduce the fine to Rs. 50. Thepetitioner is said to have already paid the fine.The excess fine, if paid, will be refunded to him.


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