1. This is an appeal under Section 417, Criminal P. C., by the Superintendent and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, Bengal, acting on the instructions of the Government of Assam, asking that the appellate order of acquittal be set aside and that the order of conviction made by the trial Court be restored or that such further or other order may be passed as to this Court may seem fit and proper.
2. It appears that the respondent was granted a lease of a certain Government Cane mahal. This document is dated 15th August 1925 and is for three years terminating on 30th June 1928. The consideration for the grant was a sum of Rs. 14,100 to be paid by six equal instalments on dates given in the lease. There is a covenant for payment and also a provision that for breach of any of the conditions of the lease it shall at the discretion of the Conservator of Forests, Eastern Circle, Assam, be liable to be cancelled. Clause 5 of the lease provides that no cane purchased or otherwise obtained from the lessee shall be exported without a pass from the lessee duly written up, books of such passes to be supplied to the lessee free of charge.
3. The petition of the Legal . Remembrancer states (para. 5) that at ransit pass is prepared in quadruplicate by means of carbon paper, one is given to the purchaser of canes: one is handed over to transporting authority, one is sent to the Divisional Forest Officer, and one is kept in the transit pass book and serves as a counterfoil for the purpose of checking. It appears that on 11th December 1926 the respondent requested the Forest Officer to supply him with additional permit and pass-books. He received a supply of permit-books but was told that transit passbooks would only be sent to him after payment of the instalment due on 20th December 1926. The respondent failed to pay the instalment and the Deputy Conservator cancelled the lease with effect from 14th February 1927. The respondent thereupon presented a petition to the Conservator asking for rescission of the order of. cancellation and stating that all the transit passes in the book previously issued to him had been used up before 4th December and that on account of the failure of the Divisional Forest Officer to supply him with a fresh book as requested he had been unable to dispose of his cane and so prevented from getting the money required for payment of the instalment. The Conservator of Forests rejected the respondent's petition and upheld the order of cancellation. The next step taken by the respondent was to forward to His Excellency the Governor of Assam in Council a document headed appeal against the order of the Conservator of Forests dated 22nd February 1927.' The document is couched in legal phraseology and prays that the record be sent for and that the order of the Conservator of Forests be sot aside. The petition was referred to the Hon'ble Mr. Botham, the member in charge of the Forest Department, who began his inquiry on 9th May 1927. We are told that both the respondent and the person to whom the lease of the mahal had been transferred were represented by pleaders. In the course of the inquiry the respondent produced and tendered through his pleader a used book of transit passes that subsequently became Ex. 5 in the criminal proceedings, to substantiate his contention that on 11th December 1926 when he wrote to the Forest Officer ho had exhausted his entire supply of transit passes and was thus prevented from collecting his outstandings and paying the instalment when it fell due.
4. The Hon'ble Mr. Botham on 4th June 1927 dismissed the appeal and the respondent was called upon to show cause in writing why he should not be prosecuted in respect of various entries which the Hon'ble Mr. Botham considered showed signs of fraudulent alteration. The respondent failed to show cause to the satisfaction of the Assam Government. On 15th August 1927 Babu Chandra Kishore Biswas, Head Assistant, Revenue Department, entered a formal. charge at the Shillong Police Station under Section 471, I. P. C, and prayed for an investigation. The investigation was completed on 10th August 1928, when the Senior Magistrate of Shillong took cognizance of the case. Thereafter the ease was transferred by order of the Governor-General in Council to Lakhimpur and tried by Mr. P. N. Das, Magistrate of Dibrugarh.
5. The charge in its final form is with regard to passes Nos. 78, 81 and 100. The Magistrate has come to the conclusion that the respondent fraudulently altered the issue dates on these passes for the purpose of substantiating his case that on 11th December 1926, his supply of transit passes was exhausted whereas in fact he had 23 unused passes on that day in his possession. The Magistrate convicted the respondent under Section 471/465, I.P.C. and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for a year and a fine of Rs. 500 The respondent appealed to the Court of the Sessions Judge and the First Additional Sessions Judge allowed the appeal on. two grounds; first because the transit passes are valuable securities' within the meaning of Section 30, I.P.C., and therefore the offence if any, was punishable under Section 467 471,, I. P. C. and exclusively triable by a Court of Session, and secondly because the Hon'ble Mr. Botham, when dealing with the respondent's appeal to the Governor in Council was a Court within the meaning of Section 195 (1) (a), Criminal P. C, and there being no complaint in writing by him the proceedings were without jurisdiction.
6. The learned Deputy Legal Remembrancer contends that the Sessions Court is wrong with regard to both points.. Mr. B. C. Chatterjee for the respondent supports the Sessions Court and also challenges the legality of the charge.
7. With regard to the latter, the charge as finally amended was as follows:
That you fraudulently or dishonestly used as genuine the transit pass-book No. Section 220 (Ex. 51 containing among other forged counterfoils of transit passes, No. Y8, No. 81 and No. 100, which book you' knew and had reason to believe to be a forged document, etc.
8. We certainly think that the charge in its present form offends against the provisions of Section 233, Criminal P. C.
9. There should have been a separate charge with regard to each transit pass and it was improper to frame the charge with respect to the whole book specifying three particulars of forgery in it. We: are of opinion however that this would not be an adequate ground for disturbing'] the order of conviction, for there is no; reason whatever to hold that the accused was misled by the error or that it occasioned any failure of justice.
10. We have now to consider whether the learned Sessions Judge was right in holding that the transit passes are valuable securities within the meaning of Section 30, I. P. C.
11. By Section 40, Assam Forest Regulations, 1891, the Local Government may make rules to regulate the transit of any forest produce. Such rules may among other matters prohibit the moving of forest produce without a piss from an officer authorized to issue the same or otherwise than in accordances with the conditions of such passes.
12. By Section 41(1) the Local Government may by a rule under the last foregoing section attach to the breach of any rule under that section a punishment not exceeding imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to Rs. 500 or both.
13. In pursuance of these powers the Local Government has made rules prescribing the form of transit pass and making removal of forest produce without a pass in such form punishable with a fine of Rs. 500 or with imprisonment for six months or both.
14. The book shows and the oral evidence proves that the issuing officer (in this case the lessee) makes out the pass in quadruplicate by means of carbon papers. The 'original' remains in the book while the duplicate, triplicate and quadruplicate go to the purchaser of the produce, the transporting agency (Railway or Steamer Co.), and the Forest Department. The transit pass states that permission is thereby given for the removal of the following forest produce from --to--.
15. Now it appears to us that on the face of it the original transit pass is clearly a valuable security within the meaning of Section 30, I. P. C., for it creates or purports to create a right to transport forest pro-duce, an action which, without the transit pass, is an offence punishable with fine and imprisonment.
16. The Deputy Legal Remembrancer however argues that if any of the, documents creates a right, it is the document which is handed to the purchaser; and that the document which remains in the book is merely a copy kept for purposes of record; and he points out that a copy of a document which is a valuable security is not; itself a valuable security: Reg. v. Khushal Hiraman  4 Bom. H.C.B. 28. Emperor v. Naro Gopal  5 Bom. H.C.R. 56.
17. We do not think that a document bearing the actual signature of the issuing officer and with the word original' printed on it can possibly he said to be a copy of another document with the word 'duplicate' printed on it to which the signature of the issuing officer has been transmitted by means of carbon paper. We consider that the operative document is the 'original' and the carbonal copies are merely evidence of the existence of the original.
18. It is also pointed out that the respondent in this case did not use the forged document as a valuable security but only as proof of his story that on 11th -December his stock of transit passes was exhausted. This is true but to constitute an offence under Section 467/471, I. P. C., the nature of the user is not material.
19. Our conclusion is therefore that the Sessions Judge rightly allowed the respondent's appeal on the ground that he was charged with an offence exclusively triable by a Court of Sessions.
20. We do not however find ourselves in agreement with the learned Judge when he holds that the Hon'ble Mr. Botham when he dealt with the respondent's appeal was a Court within the meaning of Section 195 (1) (c), Criminal P. C. It is true that it appears that procedure analogous to that of a legal tribunal was observed by Mr. Botham, and the respondent and the party to whom the fresh lease had been granted appeared by pleaders but those facts are very far from being conclusive. The 'appeal' of the respondent is presented to His Excellency the Governor of Assam in Council who is certainly not a Court. The respondent has not been able to point to any legislative enactment from which Mr. Botham derived his authority. Though ho took evidence it does not appear that ho was possessed of the ordinary powers of a Court in the matter of issuing process and compelling the attendance of witnesses,
21. The learned Deputy Legal Remembrancer has called our attention to various provisions of the Assam Forest Regulation which contemplate judicial proceedings but none of such proceedings in any way resemble the inquiry now under our consideration.
22. We are of opinion therefore that Section 195 (1) (c) was no bar to the trial of respondent.
23. In the circumstances of the case although the learned Sessions Judge was right in allowing the appeal on the ground that the case was exclusively triable by a Court of Session we undoubtedly have jurisdiction under Section 423 (1) (a), Criminal. P. C, to commit the respondent for trial by such a Court and we have been urged to take this course. It has been pointed out to us that much of the delay that has taken place has been due to the obstructive tactics of the respondent whose policy it has been throughout to put the prosecution to as much trouble as possible. However he is not to blame in respect of the matter concerning which we have held the appeal as rightly allowed. The expense to which he has been put, in the proceedings be-[fore the Magistrate, the Sessions Judge and this Court, must be considerable. Having taken all the circumstances into consideration we do not propose to exercise the powers to which I have referred. The appeal is therefore dismissed and the order of acquittal passed by the learned Sessions Judge is upheld.
24. The accused is discharged from his bail bond.
M.C. Ghose, J.
25. I agree.