1. The petitioner filed a complaint against a number of accused in the Court of the Stationary Sub-Magistrate, Tanjore; and they were convicted. Rupees 25 was ordered to be paid to the complainant as compensation. The accused preferred an appeal to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Tanjore, and notice was apparently ordered to the District Magistrate and to the complainant. The complainant was not served at the first attempt; and the service was effected only on the day before the appeal was to be heard. An affidavit filed by the pleader for the petitioner alleges that the petitioner came to him only at 10-45 A.M. i.e., a quarter of an hour before the appeal was to be heard and represented that he had been served late the previous evening and had come straight to him. The pleader appeared in Court without a vakalat and the Magistrate could not of course hear him. The pleader then asked for an adjournment, which the same Magistrate refused. Nobody appeared on behalf of the Crown; and so the appeal was heard exparte and resulted in the acquittal of the accued. As a necessary consequence of the acquittal, the order of compensation to the petitioner was set aside. The petitioner complains that he was not given a proper opportunity of being heard.
2. The petitioner has no right to be heard under Section 422, Criminal P.C; but the petition was admitted because at the time of admission it was not clear whether a notice had gone to the Crown as required under that section. The appellate Magistrate now reports that notice was given to the District Magistrate. The learned counsel for the petitioner has however pointed out that rules require that in a cognizable case notice should go to the District Magistrate and to the Prosecuting Inspector. I doubt whether the fact that the notice went to the District Magistrate only would be a failure to comply with the provisions of Section 422; because Section 422 refers only to one officer viz., such officer as the Local Government may appoint in this behalf Moreover, we do not know whether, in fact, notice was given to the Prosecuting Inspector or not. Although it is not necessary under Section 422, Criminal P.C., to give notice to a complainant, even though the complainant was awarded compensation, I think it is a salutary practice to do so; because the Crown might not choose to oppose the appeal. Some District Magistrates instruct the Public Prosecutor or the Prosecuting Inspector not to appear in private cases on the ground that the Crown is not interested in the result of the appeals. Such an attitude is to be deprecated. Although a private complainant can bring to the notice of a Magistrate the fact that an offence has been committed, the accused is convicted for infringing the law of the country; and as it is the duty of the District Magistrate to see that the law is upheld, he should not regard a crime as of no concern to him because the complaint has been preferred by a private party. The fact that Section 422 contemplates notice only to the Crown is itself an indication that the propriety or otherwise of a conviction is the concern of the Crown, the accused and the Court.
3. Having given notice to the complainant I think the Magistrate should have given him a reasonable opportunity to engage a vakil and to give that vakil reasonable time to prepare his case. It is true that with a little more diligence the complainant might have approached the vakil earlier; but how-ever prompt he might have been, the vakil would have had very little time. Nevertheless the trial and the appeal have to be regarded primarily from the standpoint of the accused; and an acquittal cannot be lightly interfered with merely because the Magistrate has failed to give a full opportunity to the complainant. The Magistrate has written a well considered judgment, and it would be a great hardship for the accused to have the acquittal set aside and to be harassed by further criminal proceedings. The petition is therefore dismissed.