1. This is a criminal revision case which has been filed against the order of compensation made by the Stationary Sub Magistrate of Perambalur in C. C. No. 1224 of 1951 and confirmed in C. A. No. 6 of 1952 by the Additional First Class Magistrate of Tiruchirapalli.
2. The facts are: Natesa Udayar, the petitioner before us, of Melamathur filed a complaint against Kanakasabai Udayar and four others alleging that on 23-9-1051 at about 10 a.m., he was assaulted by the accused when he went with the process server of the Ariyalur District Munsif's court to serve summons on the accused. The complaint was taken on file under Section 355, I. P. C., against accused 1 and 5 and under Section 323, I. P. C., against accused 2. 3 and 4. In support of his case this Natesa Udayar examined himself and three others, viz., P. Ws. 2 and 3, eyewitnesses, and P. W. 4, the process server.
The case for the accused persons was that on account of enmity arising out of civil suit and in which the process was issued, they have been falsely implicated and that they did not commit the offence. The Sub Magistrate holding that a 'prima facie' case had been made out, framed a charge under 8. 355, I. P. C., against accused 1 and 5 and under Section 323, I. P. C., against accused 2, 3 and 4. The accused pleaded not guilty and further cross-examined the P. Ws. I need not point out that there were lengthy intervals oftime between the date of complaint, examination of P. Ws. in the first instance, the framing of the charge, and the further cross-examination of the P. Ws. In the stage which began with the further cross-examination, P. W. 4, the process server, went behind his evidence and managed to throw considerable doubts on the original testimony recorded in court, before the framing of the charge. The accused persons had nothing to add to their previous statements and they examined three D. Ws. the substance of whose evidence was that there was service of summons on accused 2, that there was a wordy quarrel between P. W. 1 and accused 2 and there was an assault and that accused 1 and 3 to 6 were not at all present at that time. The Sub Magistrate holding that the case had not been brought home to the accused acquitted them and called upon the complainant P. W. 1 to show cause why he should not be ordered to pay compensation for instituting a false and vexatious complaint. The complainant stated that the case was true and that the process server had been won over and deposed falsely after receiving illegal gratification from the opposite side. The Sub Magistrate found as follows:
'I do not accept the reason shown by the complainant. On the face of the evidence adduced, I conclude that the complainant has preferred a false and vexatious complaint against the accused.'
He directed the complainant to pay a compensation of Rs. 100 in all to the five accused. In appeal this was confirmed by the Additional First Class Magistrate and hence this revision.
2. The scope of Section 250, Cr. P. C., and the circumstances which ought to weigh with the Magistrates before awarding compensation and especially in cases where charges have been framed are set out in the following decisions. In order to justify an order of compensation under this section it is necessary to show that the person in question had been accused of an offence triable by the Magistrate ordering compensation and that the person had been discharged or acquitted and where this is done the Magistrate has jurisdiction to pass the order. It is immaterial whether the case is triable as a summons case, or as a warrant case or is summarily tried -- 'Paighambar v. Emperor', (A); -- 'Queen-Empress v. Basava', 11 Mad 142 (B). The operation of this section is, however, restricted to cases instituted upon a complaint or upon information given to a Police Officer or to a Magistrate. It will not apply to a case instituted on a police report or on information given by a police officer -- 'Saleh, v. Emperor', AIR 1932 Sind 156 (C); -- 'Ramjewan v. Durgacharan', 21 Cal 979 (D); --'Queen-Empress v. Sakar Jan', 22 Bom 934 (E). But where a police officer initiates criminal proceedings in a non-cognizable case by filing a complaint before a magistrate, the magistrate has jurisdiction under Section 250, Cr. P. C. 'King-Emperor v. Sada', 26 Bom 150 (F). Public servants as such are not however, exempted from liability under Section 250, Cr. P. C. 'Narasayya v. Ramdas Naidu' 2 Weir 317 (G). Compensation can be awarded even to survivors of deceased complainants who have suffered loss of a pecuniary character and there is nothing in this section to make it non-applicable to the case of the State: -- 'Crown v. Debee Buksh', 25 Pun Re Cr 1868 (H); -- 'Emperor v. Kanver Sen' : AIR1930All206 .
Before making an order of compensation under this section, the Magistrate must strictlyfollow the procedure laid down in the section, viz., that he should be of opinion that a case is false and either is frivolous or vexatious. He should either when pronouncing the order of discharge or acquittal or without practical delay thereafter call upon the complainant for his explanation; and then after hearing his explanation record his opinion that the case was false and frivolous or vexatious: -- 'Pir Mahomed v. Yacoob', AIR 1929 Sind 113 (J). The object of this section is not to punish the complainant but by a summary award to award some compensation to a person against whom ft frivolous or vexatious accusation is brought leaving him to obtain further redress against the complainant if he seeks for it by a regular suit or criminal prosecution:--'Beni Madhub v. Kumud Kumar', 30 Cal 123 (K); -- 'Nga Myo v. Nga Kyan', AIR 1914 UB 29 (L); --'Venkatarama Aiyar v. Krishna Aiyar', AIR 1915 Mad 940(M).
3. It is no doubt a very salutary provision of law that is embodsied in this section. It is meant to serve as a check on propensities to rush to court recklessly or to level accusations against innocent people knowing or having reason to believe that they are innocent. It was, however, not to be indiscriminately used as to be a check on legitimate complaints which may be difficult of proof owing to some reason for which the complainant may not be responsible. Indiscriminate use of the provisions of this section might often deter a timid person from approaching the portals of law courts for fear that if per chance his witnesses turned round or somehow did not inspire confidence in the courts he may be mulcted in fine: -- 'Emperor v. Boloch Daryakhan', AIR 1934 Sind 18 (N).
It has been held time and again that the powers are to be exercised only in fit and proper cases and not indiscriminately in every case in which the accused is discharged since the virtual effect of an order of compensation is that it amounts to a summary conviction of the complainant; -- 'AIR 1932 Sind 156 (C)'. Experience in the High Court shows that there is a good deal of abuse in this country of the criminal law. People with civil disputes frequently attempt to harass their opponents or force them to compromise by starting criminal proceedings. A dispute as to boundaries is made into a criminal trespass; a dispute between partners is stated to be one of criminal misappropriation or breach of trust: where there is a perfectly plain case in which criminal proceedings are started not really 'bona fide' but with a view to bring pressure to bear against the opponent in a civil dispute, the magistrate will be abundantly justified in proceeding against the complainant under this section: --'Dahyabhal Nathabhai v. Tanganio Machi', AIR 1933 Bom 233 (O).
4. As qualifying an accusation the term 'frivolous' indicates that the accusation is of a trivial nature or is 'trifling', 'silly' or 'without due foundation': -- 'Beni Madhub Kurmi v. Kumud Kumar Biswas'. 30 Cal 123 (FB) (K);-- 'Mt. Jaina v. Santuk Das', AIR 1920 Nag 78(1) (P & Q). The term vexatious implies that the accusation is one that ought not to have been made and is intended to 'harass' -- 'Bakaji v. Mukund Singh', AIR 1920 Nag 108 (R), or 'annoy' the accused. 'Municipal Committee, Simla v. Mukund Singh', AIR 1926 Lah 365 (S);-- 'Chanan Sing v. Emperor', AIR 1921 Lah 283(2) (T); -- 'Emperor v. Kouro Jumo', AIR 1917 Sind 73 (1) (U). Thus where a criminal prosecution is launched on mere suspicion ('In re Dinshaji Hirjibhal', AIR 1932 Bom 177 (V)) or, with a view to put pressure on an opponent in a civil suit the Magistrate is justified in acting under this section. Similarly, a false accusation of rape is vexatious to the person accused ('Mst. Daropti v. Parasram', AIR 1941 Lah 19 (W)). But where the complainant's case is not an improbable one and is merely unable to prove his case, or there is nothing to show that it is wilfully false or that there is any perversion or exaggeration of evidence, it is not proper to hold the complaint false and vexatious. Similarly, the fact that the complainant and the accused are on bad terms is not a sufficient ground for holding that the complaint is a false one, ('Emperor v. Narapati Rai', 3 Cri LJ 123 (X);-- 'Rais Ahmed v. Emperor', AIR 1944 Oudh 25 (Y); -- 'Bechan Prasad v. Jhuri' : AIR1936All363 , 'Guldin v. Abdul Khali', AIR 1935 Pesh 178 (Z1); -- 'Venkayya v. Seethayya' : AIR1941Mad884 'New Delhi Municipal Committee v. Rambhai', AIR 1936 Lah 702 (Z3);-- 'Maung Pan v. Mg. Mya Din', AIR 1938 Rang. 209 (Z4).
5. The fact that a magistrate has framed a charge under Section 254, I. P. C. against an accused person does not itself prevent him from holding after full enquiry that the charge is frivolous and vexatious under this section: Ratanlal 734. But when a Magistrate considers the evidence sufficient to justify the framing of a charge and subsequently changes his opinion, he must give reasons for so changing. Compensation for a frivolous and vexatious complaint may be awarded after the evidence for the defence had been heard because it is quite possible that the Magistrate might not be able to detect the frivolous or vexatious nature of the complaint until the defendant has had an opportunity of explaining the real circumstances in making his defence (Weir II 316).
6. If we bear these principles in mind, there can be no doubt that the failure of the case in the instant case was more due to the misfortune of the complainant than on account of any preferring of a false complaint by him. The motive for the accused to do the acts attributed to them is clear, viz., the civil court proceedings. The victim P. W. 1 has immediately after the offence gone to the village munsif and has reported the matter and has been advised by him to go and prefer a private complaint. It is idle to contend that a wound certificate should have been taken by P. W. 1 because the nature of the injuries on him were such that no wounds certificate would throw light on the same. It is quite true that this P. W. 1 has exaggerated the extent of the criminal force and all that seems to have happened was a general abusing and pushing about the lurid threats. The doctor will not be able to throw any light on this even if P. W. 1 had gone to one unless he (complainant) inflicted injuries on himself. The eye-witnesses and the process server have supported this complainant before the framing of the charge. Subsequently after the framing of the charge the process server, as is very often the case with this tribe, has changed sides and discredited himself and this he was enabled to do because in the return made by him he has not referred to this assault and which at that stage did not really concern this process server. The evidence for the defence chiefly comes from D. W. 1 who is closely related to these accused, It is not necessary to multiply these details to show that the case of the complainant failed on account of two things, viz., that the complainant himself has exaggerated what had happened and secondly, the accused have successfully won over the process server. This merited no doubt the acquittal but not the award of compensation:
7. The order of the lower court is set aside and the compensation amount, if paid, will be refunded to the petitioner.