Kuppuswami Ayyar, J.
1. The petitioner was convicted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Bhimavaram of an offence punishable under Rule 56(4) read with Rule 121 of the Delence of India Rules for having acted in defiance of an order passed by the District Magistrate of West Godavari under Rule 56 of the said rules. He was sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment. On appeal the sentence was reduced to six months' simple imprisonment.
2. The charge runs thus:
That you, on or about the 26th day of January, 1945, at Chinanindrakolanu village, in defiance of the order, dated 18th January, 1945, of the District Magistrate, West Godavari, passed under Rule 56 of the Defence of India Rules, prohibiting the celebration of the Indian ' Independence Day ' by conducting 'flag salutation ' etc., attempted to conduct a flag salutation by planting a tri-coloured Congress flag in a public street near Ramalayam and thereby committed an offence punishable under Rule 56(4) read with Rule 121 of the Defence of India Rules.
All that has been found by the lower Courts was that the petitioner took a flag and stood in the street and that there was no meeting, no processsion and no flag salutation. That is what the learned Sessions Judge in appeal definitely finds. The notification issued by the District Magistrate of West Godavari runs thus:
In exercise of the powers delegated to him under Rule 56 of the Defence of India Rules, the District Magistrate, West Godavari for the purpose of securing the public safety, the maintenance of public order and the efficient prosecution of War, hereby prohibits the holding of or taking part in public processions, meetings or assemblies for or connected with the celebration of the Indian 'Independence Day' or the propagation of the 'Independence Pledge' or for conducting any 'flag salutation ' in this connection, within the local limits of the West Godavari District.
It will be seen that what was prohibited was (I) the holding of or taking part in public processions, (2) meetings, (3) assemblies for or connected with the celebration of the Indian Independence Day or the propagation of the Independence Pledge, (4) or for conducting any flag salutation in this connection. In the charge the only thing mentioned is flag salutation and it is also stated that there was an attempt to conduct flag salutation. From the finding of the Sessions Judge it is clear that there was no flag salutation. He also says that there was no procession or meeting. So I am not able to see how the petitioner disobeyed the order of the District Magistrate. Merely holding a flag or standing in the street with a flag which is what the petitiorer is said to have done, cannot be said to amount to any of the acts which are prohibited by the order of the District Magistrate.
3. I accordingly set aside the conviction and sentence and acquit the petitioner.