1. This revision arises out of the order of the District Magistrate of Chittoor setting aside an order of discharge passed by the Sub-Magistrate of Piler in a case under Section 307, Penal Code (attempt to murder). It appears that the case was first reported by the Village Magistrate to the police and was found by the police to be false. Subsequently at the instance of the complainant himself who was injured, the preliminary enquiry went on. The story for the prosecution was that the accused shot at the complainant from a distance of 15 or 16 yards with a breach-loading gun and injured him in the left thigh. The defence was that P.W. 1 had attempted to kill himself with his uncle's gun which was a muzzle loader and in doing so, bungled and injured himself in the thigh instead of in any vital part of the body. P.W. 8, the Village Magistrate, taking advantage of this circumstance foisted a false case against the accused.
2. The Sub-Magistrate of Piler took the whole of the evidence both for the prosecution and for the defence, wrote a long and considered judgment in which he pointed out that in his opinion the eyewitness, P.W. 2, and the other important prosecution witnesses who say that they saw the accused at the scene of offence were not present there; that the Village Magistrate had taken a very unusual interest in the case and though at first he denied having done so, when questioned about it in cross-examination, was afterwards compelled to admit it; that blood was found at the spot where P.W. 1 is stated by the defence to have attempted to commit suicide; and that the nature of the wound and the position of the wound are inconsistent with the case for the prosecution, that the shot was fired from a distance of 15 or 16 yards in front of P.W. 1. On these conclusions, the Sub-Magistrate found that the case was utterly false and accordingly discharged the accused under Section 209, Criminal P.C. The complainant thereupon moved the learned District Magistrate in revision and the learned District Magistrate set aside the order of discharge in a very brief order which reads as follows:
On perusing the records and hearing the parties I find that the order of the Stationary Sub-Magistrate cannot be allowed to stand, on the face of the medical evidence against the theory of the self-infliction of the injury. The Subordinate Magistrate should not have weighed the evidence of the medical witness in the preliminary enquiry as he did--that should have been left to the Court of Session.
3. It must be pointed out that this is a very unsatisfactory order. The learned District Magistrate should at least in setting aside an order of this kind passed by the Sub-Magistrate after a lengthy consideration of the whole evidence have indicated in some greater detail how the order was wrong. It appears that the learned District Magistrate was of the opinion that the medical evidence conclusively proved the falsity of the defence. It is extraordinary to me how that conclusion could be reached by the learned District Magistrate, for I find that the doctor in cross-examination says this:
I adhere to my opinion that the injury of P.W. 1 could not be self-inflicted one. Because the injury of P.W. 1 was not on his head, mouth and chest, I have expressed that it cannot be self- inflicted.
4. Now of course as a matter of physical possibility, this opinion is absurd. A man can injure himself in any part of the body which he can reach with his gun. The whole case for the defence was, that though P.W. 1 intended to kill himself, he bungled his arrangements and accidentally shot himself in the leg. The learned District Magistrate does not attempt to discuss the finding that the Sub-Magistrate came to that the condition of the wound is inconsistent with the prosecution case, and I do not find in the evidence of the doctor himself any statement supporting the prosecution case that the injury could have been caused from a distance of 15 or 16 yards. On the contrary he says that the muzzle end of the gun might have been at about 2 yards distance from the injury. It is therefore impossible to regard this case as one in which the medical evidence presents great difficulties or proves that the prosecution case must be true on the ground that the defence case must be false. Indeed another portion of the doctor's evidence was brought to my attention at the hearing; which is a strong indication in favour of the defence. The doctor says:
The presence of burnt rags in a gun shot wound will indicate that the gun used was an old-fashioned muzzle loader.
5. As already mentioned it is the prosecution case that a breach loader was used and the defence case that a muzzle loader was used. Apart however from these important passages in the medical evidence which are quite at variance with the case for the prosecution, I must point out that the learned District Magistrate was not justified in stating without any qualification that the Sub-Magistrate should not have weighed the evidence as he did. It is the clear duty of the Sub-Magistrate to weigh the evidence of the witnesses who appear before him. If he does not, his, proceedings are farcical and cross-examination or the examination of defence witnesses might as well be forbidden. He! should not of course require in cases triable exclusively by the Court of Session the same high standard of proof for the prosecution which he would require in cases which he can himself finally dispose of. If there merely exists in his mind a reasonable doubt as to the truth or otherwise of the evidence before him, he should commit the accused for trial and leave the Sessions Court to appreciate the evidence for itself. But this is not to say that he is precluded from finding that the prosecution case is false. If that is the; only conclusion to which the evidence leads him, he would be failing in his manifest duty if he did not record his finding and discharge the accused. It is an important part of the duty of committing Courts to prevent false cases and frivolous cases from occupying the time of the Court of Session both in the interest of the accused himself and in the interests of the Court of Session. In my opinion, the Sub-Magistrate in this case has clearly done his duty in discharging the accused. There has been no criticism by the District Magistrate except on the one matter which I have referred to, of the findings as such, and the learned Public Prosecutor is unable to say that any of his findings is not justified by the evidence. For these reasons I set aside the order of the learned District Magistrate and restore the order of the Sub-Magistrate discharging the petitioner.