1. In this batch of revision petitions two points of law are taken viz., that an incriminating statement made by the person later on charged as an accused to a Prohibition Officer would be a confession made to a police officer within the meaning of Section 25, Evidence Act; and secondly, that such a confessional statement must be corroborated, and that failing which there would be no validly acceptable evidence for convicting the accused.
2. Both these points taken must fail because it has been held that a Prohibition Sub-Inspector under the Madras Prohibition Act is not a police officer in the decisions in -- 'Venkatareddi In re', AIR 1948 Mad 116 (A) and it has been followed by Fanchapakesa Aiyar J. in -- 'Vadivel Goundar In re', : AIR1952Mad299 (B).
3. In regard to the second point inasmuch as the statement to a Prohibition Officer is not a confessional statement, the ruling relating to the corroboration of a resiled confessional statement does not apply to this case. But apart from that, there is material corroboration as a matter of fact in all these cases.
4. The extent and the nature of the corroboration required before a Court can act upon and accept such statements will depend upon the circumstances of each case. In -- 'King v. Baskerville', (1916) 2 KB 658 (C) Lord Reading the Lord Chief Justice laid down that:
'.....evidence in corroboration must be indepen dent testimony which affects the accused by connecting or tending to connect him with the crime. In other words, it must be evidence which implicates him, that is, which confirms in some material particular not only the evidence that the crime has bean committed, but also that the prisoner committed it ...The nature of the corroboration will necessarily vary according to the particular circumstances of the offence charged. It would be in high degree dangerous to attempt to formulate the kind of evidence which would be regarded as corroboration, except to say that corroborative evidence is evidence which shows or tends to show that the story of accomplice that the accused committed the crime is true, not merely that the crime has been committed, but it was committed by the accused.
The corroboration need not be direct evidence that the accused committed the crime; it is sufficient if it is merely circumstantial evidence of his connection with the crime. A good instance of this indirect evidence is to be found in -- 'Reg. v. Birkott', (1823) 8 Car & P 732 (D). Were the law otherwise, many crimes which are usually committed between accomplices in secret, such as incest, offences with females, or the present case, could never be brought to justice.'
In -- (1823) 8 Car & P 732 (D)', the prisoner was tried and convicted for stealing a sheep. In order to corroborate the evidence of the approver, reliance was placed on the circumstance that a quantity of mutton which might have been part of the carcass of the stolen sheep was found in the house.
5. The circumstantial detail in this case relied upon by the prosecution is that the accused himself climbed the tree and brought down the toddy pots which were found to contain toddy, showing thereby that it was he who had put the pots there and who drew the toddy within meaning of Section 4 of the Act. Therefore, the second point taken also must fail.
6. The learned Advocate pressed finally for a reduction of the sentence, putting forward several mitigating circumstances like the fact that these persons were originally toddy tappers; they have now become unemployed; that they have learnt a lesson and that sending them to jail would only convert them into gaol birds making them lose their self-respect and harden them into defying law and order more impudently in future than before. I agree.
7. Therefore, I reduce the period of imprisonment to the period already undergone, namely, about 3 weeks and in addition impose a fine of Rs. 30 on each of the accused or in default to undergo one month's imprisonment. Time for payment of the fine, two months.
8. These revision petitions are disposed ofaccordingly.