Holmwood and Sharfuddin, JJ.
1. This was a Rule calling on the District Magistrate of Backergunge to show cause why the conviction and sentence passed on the petitioners should not be set aside, or such other order passed as to this Court may seem fit, on the ground that it is doubtful which of the petitioners, if any, is liable under Section 154 of the Indian Penal Code.
2. Now, the facts are that a certain naib of the estate got up a riot in order to dispossess certain persons by force, Four rioters were convicted: one of them was sentenced to one month and three others to two months' rigorous imprisonment. The first point, therefore, which we have to notice is that this riot appears not to have been in any sense a serious one. There is no doubt, under Section 154 of the Indian Penal Code, that the owner or occupier of the land, or any person having or claiming an interest in such land, is punishable with fine not exceeding 1,000 rupees, if lie or his agent or manager do not use all lawful means in their power to prevent it, and, in the event of its taking place, do not use all lawful means in their power to disperse or suppress the riot, and if, they, knowing or having reason to believe that such an offence is being or has been committed, or is likely to be committed, do not give the earliest notice thereof in their power to the nearest police-station. In this case it is admitted that the ladies themselves did not do or omit to do any of the things which are set out under Section 151. It was their agent or naib who got up the riot apparently to promote his own ends, and who did not take any steps to prevent it or give notice to the police-station. The ladies, therefore, in this case, or their adopted sons would be responsible for having appointed such an agent and for not having removed him.
3. The question, therefore, which arises in this case is as to who was responsible for the management of this estate, and for the appointment of the officers under the estate. It is clearly proved by the general manager, Mr. Savi, that the three ladies, Siva Sundari Chowdhurani and two others, were fully responsible for these appointments; and that, although their adopted sons took some share in the active management of the estate, they are in no way responsible for the appointment of this naib who created this riot. It seems to us impossible to punish' in every case every person who Bas any interest in the land. The responsibility must depend upon the fact of the person who caused the riot being himself the person who has an interest in the land, or an agent or manager of such person; and one of the facts to be proved was whose agent or manager the person who fomented the riot is. In this case we cannot trace the appointment of this naib to any one else but the three ladies, and the conviction and sentence, therefore, against the two adopted sons, Dhakhina Ranjan Roy Chowdhury and Ramesh Chandra Roy Chowdhury, must be set aside, and the fine, if paid, must be refunded.
4. Then, as regards the liability of the ladies, we think that in this case they must be considered to be jointly liable, although, the case being one under the Criminal law, separate sentences have to be passed against each of them; and we. think that in all these cases what should be considered is the extent of the responsibility entailed upon the estate by the occurrence, for it would be manifestly inequitable that in a riot between two sets of zamindars, where there are hundred co-owners on one side and one only on the other, that the one man should be fined 100 rupees, and the hundred men should be fined 100 rupees each, which seems to be the principle upon which the present case has been decided. We consider that a fine of 300 rupees would amply meet the justice of this case.
5. We reduce the sentence on each of the ladies to a fine of 100 rupees each, and in default one month's simple imprisonment. The Rule is so far made absolute, and the balance of the fine, if paid, will be refunded.