1. Appeal under Section 377(2) of the Code of Criminal procedure 1973 against the judgment of the Court of the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Kulithalai in C. Case No. 98 of 1974 on the 27th day of June, 1975.
This appeal coming on for hearing on this day upon perusing the petition of Appeal, the record of the evidence and proceedings before the said lower Court and upon hearing the arguments of Mr. Ilias Ali for Mr. Habi-bullah Badsha the Central Government Prosecutor on behalf of the State, the Appellant herein and the respondent (Accused No. 2) not appearing in person or by Advocate, the Court delivered the following Judgment:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the learned Judicial First Class Magistrate of Kulitalai in C.C. No. 98 of 1974 on the file of his Court, convicting the accused (Respondent) under Section 135(ii) of the Customs Act and Section 85(H) of the Gold Control Act, and sentencing him on the first Court to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- and in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for two months, and on the second count to S.I. till the rising of the court and to pay a fine of Rs. 500/-and in default to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two months. The state has preferred this appeal for enhancement of the sentence. No appeal has been preferred by the accused against his conviction.
2. The case against the respondent (accused) was that on 6-9-1968, he was found with a bandage on each of his legs between the knee and ankle secured with adhesive plaster and when intercepted and interrogated on suspicion by P.W. 1 and when the bandages were severed open, 18 bars of gold were found beneath the bandage on the right leg. and 17 bars of gold beneath the bandage on the left leg. The bandages had been put round each of the legs in order to conceal the bars of gold inside the bandages. They bore the marks '10 totals compagne-Metax precieux Paris 999.0 purity'. They were gold bars of 24 carat each. (They have been exhibited as M.O. 3 series). The petitioner was in possession of the same without any permit of the Reserve Bank. PW. 1 seized them under the cover of the Mahazar, Ex. P.I. P.W. 1 was the Superintendent of Central Excise and Customs (Preventive) at Tiruchi at that time He recorded the statement of the abused, which has been marked as Ex.P2, and submitted the records and the gold to the Collector of Central Excise, Madras. The gold bars were confiscated by the Collector who imposed also a penalty of Rs. 1000/-. The gold seized from the accused was of the value of Rs. 70,000/- at that time and the duty payable thereon was Rs. 34,000/-.
3. These facts were spoken to by P.W. 1. When examined with reference to the evidence of P.W. 1 the accused admitted the offence. Charges were framed under Section 135(ii) of the Customs Act and Section 85(ii) of the Gold Control Act, which were read over and explained to him in Tamil. The accused pleaded guilty. The learned Magistrate was satisfied that the plea was voluntary and accepted the same and convicted the accused and sentenced him as aforesaid.
4. The learned Counsel for the State now contends that the sentence is not adequate, having regard to the nature of the offence committed I have not had the benefit of hearing the arguments of the learned Counsel for the respondent, who is absent till 12-30 P.M. despite my waiting for him and despite the endeavour of the staff of this Court to locate him within the premises of this building.
5. The only question now to be considered is whether the sentence passed by the learned Magistrate is adequate. The offence committed by the accused is an anti-social offence. Smuggling of gold has had a very undesirable effect on the economy of the country. Light sentences such as those passed by the learned Magistrate will not have the effect of preventing the commission of offences of this nature. This new criminal tribe which is indulging in white collar offences of an economic nature and thereby disrupting the economy of the country must be dealt with severely and in accordance with law. Therefore, the conviction of the accused respondent under Section 135(ii) of the Customs Act is confirmed, and in addition to the sentence of fine of Rs. 500/- and the default sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two months, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for six months is awarded. Similarly, the conviction of the accused respondent under Section 85(ii) of the Gold Control Act is confirmed, and in lieu of the sentence of imprisonment till the rising of the Court, the accused is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months, and the sentence of fine of Rs. 500/- and the default sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two months are confirmed. The substantive sentence of imprisonment on both the counts shall run concurrently. This appeal is accordingly allowed.