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In Re: N. Ramarathnam and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1946Mad349; (1946)1MLJ237
AppellantIn Re: N. Ramarathnam and anr.
Cases ReferredEmperor v. Hari Moreshwar I.L.R.
Excerpt:
.....the help of the translators, but having read the article myself, i think, it is a case in which there are a number of points which will have to be taken into consideration and those points will be better considered by persons who know tamil and who have got a very good working knowledge of that language. 5. none of these matters have been dealt with and all that is stated is that a case of sedition could be tried by a magistrate as well and all cases of sedition are alike and that therefore it will not be justified in committing the case to the high court. i accordingly find that the magistrate would have done well to have exercised his discretion in recording the evidence as if it was a preliminary enquiry for ultimately committing the case to this court, if a prima facie case should..........in this particular case as to why they wanted the case to be tried in this court with the aid of a jury. as urged by the learned counsel for the petitioners, there are several circumstances which have to be taken into consideration before deciding the question whether this case is to be tried by this court or by the chief presidency magistrate himself. the main test in such case is the impression formed on the mind of a reader who knows the language in which the article is written. the mother tongue of the magistrate is urdu and it is stated that he has passed a test in tamil and that he has served in tamil districts. i am not sure whether this knowledge of tamil would be sufficient to enable him to understand the article with all its implications and to consider and decide what.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Kuppaswami Ayyar, J.

1. It is urged for the petitioners that there are various considerations which have to be borne in mind by the Chief Presidency Magistrate before deciding whether he should himself try a case of sedition or should commit it to this Court for being tried with the aid of a jury and that the Magistrate has not dealt with or considered them before passing the order sought to be revised. In the petition filed before the Magistrate, the main point urged was that the offending article being in Tamil, it would be conducive to the ends of justice if the case is to be tried by a jury, a majority of whom would be in a position to decide whether the article was one that would bring or attempt to bring into hatred or contempt or excite disaffection against the Government. He has not specifically dealt with this but merely stated that since most of the cases under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code would be of the same nature as the case before him and since the law has not made the offence triable exclusively by a Court of Session, it was evident that such cases need not necessarily be tried always by a Sessions Court. The magistrate was perfectly justified in saying that since the Legislature has not directed that sedition cases should be tried solely by a Sessions Court, he would be entitled to try it. But then he has not dealt with the grounds urged in this particular case as to why they wanted the case to be tried in this Court with the aid of a jury. As urged by the learned Counsel for the petitioners, there are several circumstances which have to be taken into consideration before deciding the question whether this case is to be tried by this Court or by the Chief Presidency Magistrate himself. The main test in such case is the impression formed on the mind of a reader who knows the language in which the article is written. The mother tongue of the magistrate is Urdu and it is stated that he has passed a test in Tamil and that he has served in Tamil districts. I am not sure whether this knowledge of Tamil would be sufficient to enable him to understand the article with all its implications and to consider and decide what impression it is likely to create upon the Tamil reading public. Of course he would have the help of the translators, but having read the article myself, I think, it is a case in which there are a number of points which will have to be taken into consideration and those points will be better considered by persons who know Tamil and who have got a very good working knowledge of that language. A trial of this case with the aid of a jury will I think be advantageous not only from the point of view of the accused but also from the point of view of the prosecution.

2. Apart from this, there is also the fact that it is a serious offence with which the accused are charged and it is stated that the paper has a wide circulation. These two grounds were said to constitute enough valid grounds for a case of sedition to be committed to a Court of Session at Bombay instead of being tried by the Presidency Magistrate there. (See Emperor v. Krishnaji Prabhakar I.L.R. (1929) Bom. 611.) Emperor v. Hari Moreshwar I.L.R. (1931) Bom. 61 was a case from the mofussil in which the question was whether the accused should be tried by a Magistrate or by a Sessions Judge, who would be ordinarily helped by assessors.

3. It is also significant that it does not appear from the order of the Magistrate that he had occasion to consider about the adequacy of the sentence that could be passed by him nor does it appear from the order that he has come to his conclusion with reference to any information given to him as regards the gravity of the offence or the sentence that may have to be imposed on the petitioners. The order is silent on that point.

4. The main considerations which ought to have weighed with the Chief Presidency Magistrate in this case are:

(1) The advantages of a trial by a High Court with the aid of a jury which would be in a position to know the language and appreciate the significance of the article, its implication and its effect on the general public and the readers' reaction to it;

(2) the adequacy of the sentence that may have to be passed by the Court for the offence in question; and

(3) the capacity of the Judge to appreciate the impression that is likely to be formed in the minds of the reading public.

5. None of these matters have been dealt with and all that is stated is that a case of sedition could be tried by a Magistrate as well and all cases of sedition are alike and that therefore it will not be justified in committing the case to the High Court. .

6. The reasons urged for the petitioners in the petition are sufficient to justify the accused being tried not only by a Judge who knows Tamil but also with the aid of a jury who know Tamil and this advantage could be had by the accused being committed to this Court if a prima facie case is made out. I accordingly find that the Magistrate would have done well to have exercised his discretion in recording the evidence as if it was a preliminary enquiry for ultimately committing the case to this Court, if a prima facie case should be made out.

7. It is stated by the learned Crown Prosecutor that the entire evidence has been recorded in writing but that the signatures of the witnesses have not been obtained as would be necessary in a preliminary enquiry. This defect as the learned Counsel for the petitioner concedes can be cured by the Magistrate sending for the witnesses who are all local men and getting their signatures and certifying that the evidence had been properly read out and explained to them in vernacular and acknowledged by them to be correct.

8. The petition is accordingly allowed and the Magistrate shall proceed with the case in the light of the observation made above.


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