1. This is a revision which has been preferred against the acquittal by the Judicial Sub-Magistrate, Keeranur, in C.C. No. 638 of 1958.
2. The case for the prosecution was that on 20th May, 1956 at about 7-30 a.m. near Mothudayanpati, the accused' armed with sticks, formed themselves into an unlawful assembly with the common object of assaulting end causing hurt to Armada am Solagar, P.W. 1, and his men and in pursuance of that' common object, the nceuped committed the offence of rioting and in the course of the rioting; injuries were caused to P.Ws. 1 to 3 and 5 and 6.
3. This is a police prosecution; and in support of the prosecution case as many as 13 witnesses were examined. Out of these 13 witnesses, P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 13 are eye witnesses. P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6 were the injured persons. P.W. 9 is a servant of P.W. 7 and P.W. 13 turned hostile.
4; The case for the accused was as follows: Accused 1 to 14, and 16 stated that they did not beat P.Ws. 1 to 3 and 5 and 6. Accused 15 stated that h.= did not instigate the other accused to beat P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6.
5. On behalf of the accused, three witnesses were examined and their evidence has been summarised by the Sub-Magistrate in paragraph 15 of his judgment as follows:
D.W. 1',s paternal uncle's son Nanjan alias Ramaswami Thetenandsr died on Saturday 6th Vaigasi in his house at Kilayur. D.W, 1's house is opposite Nnjan's house. On Saturday night D.W. 1 slept on the pial of Nanian's house. On Sunday morning 2 1/2 naligais before day break P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6 and some others came to Nanjan's house to commit theft of Nanjan's properties. D. W. 1 took a stick from the thati, and beat P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6, D.W, 2 who had come to his sister's house at Kilayar came to Nanjan's house on hearing noise. On Sunday morning D.ws. 1 and 3 and P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6 were going in a cart to Udayallpatti from one Sivasami's house.'
6. The learned Sub-Magistrate acquitted the accused and hence this revision.
7. There can be no doubt that the acquittal by the learned Sub-Magistrate cannot at all be supported. In fact, his conclusion appears to be thoroughly perverse and devoid of any reasoning. It does not flow from the evidence. The occurrence has been spoken to by the eye witnesses, P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 13. Out of them, P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6 are the injured persons and for which medical certificates are forthcoming. P.W. 4, Dr. Srinivasan, has been examined. In fact, the learned Magistrate himself states that there can be no doubt that P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6 received injuries.
The prosecution has also put forward adequate motive for the commission of the offence. Information of the offence has been given of this rioting and the police have investigated the case and put up the charge-sheet, Only one of the Witnesses examined out of the category of eye witnesses has not supported the prosecution case; the others have spoken to the main facts set out in the charge sheet. The names of P.Ws. 9 and 13 are mentioned in the F.I.R. as eye witnesses.
It is only the name of P.W. 8 that has not been mentioned in it. The allegation that he is a servant of P.W, 7 has also been denied. Turning to the accused, the names of all the 15 accused are mentioned in I he F.I.R. Only the name of accused 18 is not mentioned. In other words, we have got a volume of evidence in support of the prosecution story.
8. I have already reproduced the evidence of the three defence witnesses summarised by the Sub-Magistrate. One moment's reflection will show that whatever might be the grounds for acquitting the accused, it caning certainly be on the strength of the defence evidence that the case has got to be thrown out. In fact, the learned Sub-Magistrate himself has not pretended to do so on account of the defence evidence. He has not even considered the defence evidence and the value to be attached to that evidence.
The reasons given by the Sub-Magistrate consists of a series of clichs which inexperienced Sub-Magistrates are prone to repeat being mentioned at the Bar ad nausea in magisterial Courts. The two reasons given by the Sub-Magistrate are that he cannot believe the eye witnesses because out of them P.Ws. 1 to 3, 5 and 6 are the injured persons and interested. P.W, 9 is a servant of P.W. 7; and the evidence of the others are exaggerated because for every act spoken to by them, there is not a corresponding injury in the medical certificate and that, therefore, the prosecution version is an exaggerated one; and consequently, it was not safe to rely on that evidence and convict the accused.
He purported to give what he called the benefit of doubt to the accused. I am sure that a Magistrate with a greater amount of experience would not have fallen into all these pitfalls. The fact that in the P.I.R. the name of one accused I is not mentioned or the names of some witnesses ere not. mentioned is no ground for disbelieving the prosecution story and acquitting the accused whose names are mentioned in the F.I.R,. and disbelieving the witnesses whose names are mentioned in the F.I.R. The F.I.R. is not an Encyclopaedia.
It is not the beginning and ending of every case. It is only a complaint to set the affairs of law and order in motion. It is only at the investigation state that all the details can be gathered 1 and filled up. So to reject the story on the ground i of first information report is to show an inadequate appreciation of criminal investigation and' the weight to be attached to evidence in criminal Cases.
9. Then it is a habit with the Madras ryotsas has been pointed out In more than one judgment of this Court not to merely say there was-a row and all these persons took part in the offence but to work out in elaborate analysis of. left-sides and right-sides and fists and feet. It. does not mean one must find corresponding injury to every fact spoken to by them. It is not. a case of every bullet finding its billet. This is an expression of speech with these ryots who are' illiterate and who in the stress of emotion observe things from different angles and speak to various acts.
On the other hand, the broad probabilities have got to be considered whether these accused I persons had a motive to commit the offence. Whether they participated in the commission of the' offence whether the particular act attributed to J them is spoken to by more than one witness and j finally we must consider the defence put forward j by the accused and its validity by testing the prosecution version.
10. I am afraid that the learned Magi, trite has completely misdirected himself and had made a wrong approach to this case when he got him, self obsessed with examining the medical certificate to find out whether every corresponding act spoken to by each witness finds, a corresponding: injury in the medical certificate. He has lost sight of the wood in the midst of trees and iaimaterial discrepancies have been elevated to the rank of falsehoods. On the other hand, in all these rioting cases where people observe under stress and] emotion, an occurrence, for a short space, from different angles with different temperaments, capacity to observe, intelligence and memory powers, such discrepancies are bound to occur. They show only the untutored veracity of the witnesses. On the other hand, if there are not discrepancies in such cases we must always suspect-confederacy and concoction before hand.
11. It is unnecessary to multiply these details to show that there were no grounds at all for this Magistrate to come to the conclusion that it was a case of giving the benefit of the but to the accused. Benefit of doubt is not a formula for shirking the task of Magistrates to graple with the facts and give definite conclusions of their own. In fact S, 3 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down:
A fact is said to be proved when, after considering the matters before it, the Court either believes it to exist or considers its existence so probable that a prudent man ought under the circumstances of the particular case to act upon the supposition that it exist.
12. In other words, so long as there is a volume of acceptable evidence and which is sought to be rebutted, it is the duty of the Magistrate to apply his mind to those facts, analyse the evidence to find out whether the prosecution has affirmatively and satisfactorily proved its case, making use of the defence evidence for the purpose of testing whether the prosecution case can be true. Then and then only if there is a reasonable doubt that the offence has not been brought home, beyond moral certainty, in accordance with the merciful jurisprudence which we administer we are bound to give the benefit of the doubt to the accused. In other words, to use Lord Kenyon's homely phrase:
If the scales of evidence hang anything like even to throw into them some grains Of mercy; or as it is more commonly put to give the prisoner the benefit of any reasonable doubt. Not be it noted of every doubt (for everything relative to human affairs and dependent on human evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubts).
It is the condition of the mind which exists when the Judges and Magistrates cannot say that they feel an abiding conviction, a moral certainty of the truth of the charge.
In these circumstances the acquittal by the lower Court cannot at all be supported. The order of acquittal is set aside and the learned District Magistrate is directed to further enquire into the matter either by himself or by a Magistrate appointed by him in this behalf, other than the Magistrate who has so unsatisfactorily disposed of this case.