1. The accused is the petitioner herein. The petition is to quash the proceedings in C.C. No. 2328 of 1948 on the file of the Special Honorary Magistrate of Egmore.
2. The complainant is the daughter of the petitioner herein. There were some misunderstandings between her husband and her father over some money transaction and when a claim was made for the return of the moneys alleged to have been advanced by the complainant, the petitioner herein wrote a letter to his daughter in which he has stated that as he has got only old and torn shoes he has placed an order for better ones and that as soon as he gets them he will send them over to her and her husband. He also stated that old ones may not be satisfactory and therefore he was arranging to send new shoes. On this, the complainant's husband as her power-of-attorney agent, has filed the complaint against the petitioner for an offence under Section 504, Indian Penal Code.
3. The petitioner has filed this revision petition to quash the proceedings on the ground that prima facie the contents of his letter to his daughter would not constitute an offence under Section 504, Indian Penal Code. This letter was written from Vellore where the petitioner resides to his daughter at Madras.
4. Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code runs as follows:
Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Now the question is whether the letter written from Vellore to the daughter in Madras falls within the scope of the section. It is bad taste for the father to write such a letter to his daughter. That the letter undoubtedly constituted an insult to the daughter or her husband, cannot be disputed. But it is doubtful that the petitioner intended or knew it to be likely that the insult will provoke either his daughter or her husband, to break the public peace or to commit any other offence. To break the public peace the complainant or her husband will have to leave his or her house, go to the railway station, and take a train, go to Vellore and go to the house of the petitioner and if by chance he is absent, wait for him and then assault him. This is not the kind of breach of peace that is contemplated in the section. The likelihood of the breach of the peace must be immediately after the provocation or so soon afterwards that it must form part of res gestos.
5. This section, as pointed out by Horwill, J., in Subbiah v. Venkatasubbamma : (1942)2MLJ101 is often misused and this is one of those cases where the observation of Horwill, J., applies with great force. As pointed out in that judgment, the lower Courts often think that a mere insult, however gross it may be, is sufficient to bring the case within the provisions of Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code. That is not so has been laid down in Subbiah v. Venkatasubbamma ( : (1942)2MLJ101 .
6. Apart from this, this is a case in which the Magistrate should have applied the principle of Section 95 of the Indian Penal Code. This is a domestic quarrel between the father and the daughter and the daughter should never have taken this to a Criminal Court. The petition is allowed and the proceedings in C.C. No. 2328 of 1948 in the lower Court are quashed.