1. This criminal revision raises an important question of privilege claimed by a witness under Section 125, Evidence Act. The witness who claims the privilege is P. W. 76 in the lower Court. He, as the Circle Inspector of Police at Ami, was investigating a case under Prohibition Act. When examined as P. W. 76 he filed the account boots of some of the accused which were exhibited as Exs. P. 187, P. 188 and P. 195. In the course of investigation he seized the above account books. In cross-examination a question was asked as to wherefrom-or from whom these account books were seized.
Instead of merely giving the name of the person from whom these account books were seized, the Circle Inspector of Police choss to give the answer that the 'Exhibits were got from my informant'. The next question was 'What is the name of the person from whom the books were seized?' Immediately an objection was raised by the Public Prosecutor on the ground that under Section 125, Evidence Act, he was privileged and that he should not be compelled to disclose the name of the informant. The question as to whether he was privileged under this section from disclosing the name of the person from whom these account books were seized was argued at some length in the lower Court and the lower Court held that the witness was not privileged from disclosing this information. The State has therefore filed this revision against that order.
2. The question is whether, when the account books were seized in the course of investigation, the information regarding the person from whom these books were seized is prohibited from being given under Section 125, Evidence Act. Section 125, Evidence Act, is as follows:
''No Magistrate or nolice officer shall be compelled to say whence he got any information as to the commission of any offence, and no Revenue Court shall be compelled to say whence he got any information as to the commission of any offence against the public revenue.'
When a Magistrate or a police officer gets any information as to the commission of any offence, whence he got such an information is prevented from being given. The information as to the Commission of the offence has already been given to the police officer and if in consequence of that information given, he starts investigation and in the course of that investigation, he seizes the account books and produces them before the Court, can it be said that the person from whom he seized the account books is the person whose name is prohibited under Section 125 of the Act from being given.
In certain cases, as in this case, it may be that the person from whom the account books are seized may be the informant. But what the section contemplates is only the prohibition of the source from whom the Magistrate or the police officer got information as to the commission of the offence and not as to the custody of any documents or other material objects, that might have been seized and that might be tendered in evidence in support of the commission of the offence. If, in answering the question, instead of giving the name of the person from whom the books were seized, the Circle Inspector of Police chooses to give the character of the person from whom he seized the books, he has to thank himself for the answer.
He has put himself completely in the wrong by saving that it was the informant who gave the account books to him. The answer that was sought to be elicited from him was not about the informant but about the person from whom the account books were seized. If he had merely given the name of the person, no further question would have been put to him except perhaps to ascertain the whereabouts or the address of the person if he was not already known to the accused. But whether he was the informant or not was known only to the witness and that answer was never sought to be elicited by the accused from the witness. By giving this answer, in my opinion, the Inspector deliberately with a view to avoid the information being given to the accused gave this answer so that on the ground that the informant's name cannot be elicited, the name of the person from whom the books were seized may not be given.
As already stated, the question does not relate to the person from whom he got the information. As the question relates to the person from whom he got the account books, the section does not give him protection from answering the question, viz., the person from whom these books were obtained. By giving the answer that it was the informant that gave the account books, he could not prevent the accused from getting the necessary information which he is otherwise entitled to. The lower Court has rightly overruled the objection raised by the Public Prosecutor. If instead of giving the name of the person from whom he got the books he chose to answer that it was from the informant he got the books, I have to say that the Inspector must thank himself for it. The accused cannot be blamed, nor can the law on the point be said to be violated. The objection was rightly overruled by the lower Court and this petition is dismissed.