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The Secretary of State for India in Council Vs. Sengammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in36Ind.Cas.833
AppellantThe Secretary of State for India in Council
RespondentSengammal and ors.
Excerpt:
criminal procedure code (act v of 1898), sections 356, 140, 514, moveable property, distress', meaning a of--general clauses act (x of 1897). - .....or choses in action. the learned government pleader drew our attention to section 83 where the words moveable property certainly include debts, whether] secured by an instrument or not. in that section however attachment is used and not distress.2. in sections 140 and 514 both attachment and distress are used indiscriminately but it is difficult to say from the language of these sections that the word distress is used with reference to other than tangible moveable property. in the absence of a clear indication in the other sections of the code that the word 'distress' is used with reference to anything but tangible moveable property and seeing that we are construing a penal provision which gives a summary remedy for the realisation of a fine, we think we ought to construe the.....
Judgment:

1. The question in this appeal is whether a debt is moveable property for the purpose of Section 386 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The words are not denned in the present Code but under Section 4, Clause 2, the definition contained in the Penal Code is to be taken as the definition of these words. The Penal Code contains a definition or an explanation which is not decisive on this point, for moveable property according to that definition includes corporeal property, etc. The definition under the General Clauses Act of 1817 would certainly include a debt but in the context in which the words are used in Section 386 they do not appear to have been used in such a large sense even assuming that the definition in the General Clauses Act would apply. Section 380 provides for the levy Of a fine by distress and sale of any moveable property belonging to the offender and the word distress is ordinarily used with reference to tangible property. It may include negotiable instruments bonds or title deeds but we think ordinarily it would not include mere debts or choses in action. The learned Government Pleader drew our attention to Section 83 where the words moveable property certainly include debts, whether] secured by an instrument or not. In that section however attachment is used and not distress.

2. In Sections 140 and 514 both attachment and distress are used indiscriminately but it is difficult to say from the language of these Sections that the word distress is used with reference to other than tangible moveable property. In the absence of a clear indication in the other sections of the Code that the word 'distress' is used with reference to anything but tangible moveable property and seeing that we are construing a penal provision which gives a summary remedy for the realisation of a fine, we think we ought to construe the provisions of the section strictly and so construing we think the moveable property, the subject of distress; and sale, must be tangible or corporeal moveable property.

3. We do not think it useful to refer to the provisions of the English Statutes as regards the levy of fines and enactments of the various American States We therefore dismiss the appeal with costs. Three months' time will by allowed for the payment of costs.


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