1. The petitioner has been found guilty by the Stationary Sub-Magistrate, Coonoor, for an offence under Section 3(12), Madras Towns Nuisance Act and sentenced to a fine of Rs. 20.
2. Section 3 (12) deals with disorderly or indecent behaviour in any public place. The indecent behaviour that is attributed to the petitioner who is a Municipal Councillor is that while going on a public road he uttered in loud tones the following words:
'It appears some fellow--let his mother and wife be ravished--informed the Sub-Inspector that Bahadur Khan (referring to the second accused) should be arrested. Can they--fellows who ravish mothers--pluck a hair.'
The question now is whether this will constitute indecent behaviour.
3. It is contended by Mr. Kasturi that it is at best only abusive or indecent words uttered and this does not constitute behaviour. The term 'behaviour' is not defined. But the Oxford Dictionary gives the meaning as deportment or manners. Uttering these words in public undoubtedly is bad manners and though it may constitute bad behaviour, it is doubtful if it is indecent behaviour within the meaning of that term in Clause (12) of Section 3. In my opinion the question is not free from doubt and the benefit of that doubt must go to the accused.
4. The conviction and sentence are set aside and the accused is acquitted. The fine, if paid, will be refunded.