1. The petitioner laid a complaint of house-breaking and theft against his brothers-in-law and a man who is said to have enticed away his wife. The Stationary Sub-Magistrate of Kulitalai found all the three accused guilty and, sentenced them to various fines and ordered the property to be restored to P. W. 1. In appeal, the Joint Magistrate of Karur, while not disagreeing with the Sub-Magistrate's finding that the accused had removed the property in question, thought that they had done so in good faith believing that the property belonged to the wife of the complainant. He therefore allowed the appeal and set aside the conviction; but he made no fresh order as to the disposal of the property. The Stationary Sub-Magistrate, on a motion of the complainant, made a reference to the Joint Magistrate asking him for orders as to the disposal of the property; and the reply of the Joint Magistrate was that the property should be restored to the complainant as ordered by the Sub-Magistrate. Subsequently, the wife of P. W. 1. applied to the Joint Magistrate asking him to return the property to her on the ground that it was her property. The Joint Magistrate, without giving notice, to P. W. 1, set aside his own previous order and directed the property to be restored to the wife of P. W. 1.
2. It is contended here in this petition that the Joint Magistrate acted without jurisdiction in reviewing his own previous order and that in any event the property should have been restored to P. W. I.
3. The Joint Magistrate certainly acted improperly--and I think illegally--in reviewing his first order. No Court subordinate to the High Court has any inherent jurisdiction to review its own judgment save in a few circumstances such as where there has been abuse of the process of Court, or fraud played upon the Court, or where petty clerical errors or mistakes have been made.
4. Whether the wife of P. W. 1 is really entitled to this property, as she says, or whether it belongs to P. W. 1, as he contends, cannot be satisfactorily decided by a Criminal Court; but where property is taken by violence by one person under the colour of a civil claim, I think the Criminal Court should ordinarily order the property so taken by violence to be returned to the person from whom it was taken; otherwise, Criminal Courts would be encouraging persons to take the law into their own hands, break into other person's houses, and take property from them under colour of a right which they might not in fact possess.
5. The order of the Joint Magistrate is therefore set aside and the property ordered to be restored to P. W. 1. If his wife or any one of the accused has any right to the property, that right must be established in a Civil Court.