1. The eight petitioners have boon fined each Rs. 75 under Section 500, I.P.C., Rs. 300 being given in compensation to the complainant.
2. It was complained that the petitioners conspired with one Abbey Naidu, the President of the Tiruvallur Union Board, and maliciously got up a petition to the effect that the complainant was suffering from leprosy.
3. Under Section 55, Madras Act 14 of 1920, a person is disqualified for election as a member of a Local Board if such person is a leper; and the complaint suggests that the accused maliciously reported the complainant to be suffering from leprosy in order to disqualify him from nomination.
4. Leprosy is not defined in the Act, which is a serious omission, because leprosy is not a scientific term and in popular usage it means either Elephantiasis Graecorum or Lepra Graecorum, that is to say, either a skin disease, or corrosive leprosy. The complainant had white marks on his foot. The accused called the attention of the President to this circumstance; the President gave the matter his judicial consideration, and ultimately decided that the complainant was a leper.
5. It is not necessary for this Court to decide the point, but it may be observed that this case comes very near to Excep. 8 to Section 499.
6. Nor is it really necessary to decide whether there was proof of publication such as that section requires, when the Court was left to a bare inference from Ex. C that the accused had presented their petition to the President. The President himself was not called, and it was very strenuously argued by Mr. L. A. Govindaraghava Ayyar, that the statement in the President's order, Ex. C.
there is another petition filed by several people of the town
proves that these accused presented to him this petition. In the. light of Evidence Act and of the Full Bench decision in Seethapati Rao Dora v. Venkanna Dora A.I.R.1922 Mad.71 that argument is more surprising than convincing; and I am also surprised that the President was never examined when there is a note on the record of the complainant's deposition as P. W. 2, that the prosecution was pressing to examine the President and he would be examined as soon as that deposition was finished.
7. But the case can be disposed of on the short point that the complaint definitely charges the President with being one of the conspirators who got up the defamatory petition, and in his deposition as P. W. 2 the complainant says that he saw the President and accused 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8 go upstairs in the President's house. Then one Rathina Mudaly told him that he had heard all the accused except the seventh conspiring in the President's house. Of course this hearsay evidence should never have been led, but the complaint taken with the legitimate evidence makes it plain that the President is accused of being one of the conspirators. Now if A and B conspire to draw up a document defaming Z, and leave it with B, there is no publication. No doubt in this case the President's vakil produced B in a civil suit under summons, but it has never been suggested that that was the publication.
8. It must therefore be found that there was no publication, and no case under Section 500 can lie. The petition is allowed. The accused are acquitted. The fines are ordered to be refunded.