1. From the petition on which the present Rule was issued it appears that in the first week of last June there began a strike among the employees of the River Steam Navigation Company, at Barisal. In this strike, which it is understood still continues, the three petitioners joined.
2. On the complaint of, or on information received from, one Rehan Ali whose services as a Serang had been secured by the Company, proceedings have now been taken against the petitioners and others on charges under Sections 506 and 143 of the Indian Penal Code. The case against them is pending in the Court of the Sadar Sub-Divisional Magistrate at Barisal: and the prayer of the petitioners is that their trial should take place in some district other than Bakarganj. They allege in substance that the District Magistrate and the Local Officers generally have identified, themselves with the interests of the Steamer Company and are doing their best 'to harass the strikers in any and every way.' They, therefore, apprehend that they will not obtain a fair trial before any Local Magistrate.
3. The District Magistrate has submitted an explanation in which he deals seriatim with the allegations of the petitioners. He states that he has found it necessary to take precautions against the intimidation and illegal picketing indulged in by persons known as 'non co-operators' and against the disorder and breaches of the peace likely to result from these practices. Of these precautionary measures he has placed some of the Local Deputy Magistrates in charge. The further allegations made against himself and the Local Officers are unfounded.
4. We accept the District Magistrate's explanation without reserve, and we need only say further that the performance by him and by the Local Officers under his instructions of their public duties affords no ground for any apprehension on the part of the petitioners that, whether before the Magistrate in whose Court the case against them now is or before any other Magistrate in the District, they will not obtain an impartial trial. We do not believe that they in fact entertain any such apprehension, and if they do, such apprehension is unfounded and unreasonable. We, therefore, discharge this Rule.
5. The judgment just delivered in Case No. 83 governs also this Rule, which is also discharged.