1. In this ease the facts are as follows: On 20th May 1932 the complainant Brojendra Nath Boy, who was a depositor in the Manikganj Loan Office to the extent of a single rupee, filed a petition against the Directors and the Secretary of the Manikganj Loan Office making allegations on twelve charges noted in the petition before the Sub-divisional Officer of Manikganj. The Subdivisional Officer was pleased to direct a thorough investigation by the police and, under his orders, the case was examined by a Police Officer under the directions of the Superintendent of Police, Dacca. The police seized all the books of the Manikganj Loan Office, removed them to the police station and prepared a synopsis of evidence bearing on the said twelve charges which they submitted through the Superintendent of Police to the Public Prosecutor of Dacca for his considered opinion.
2. The Public Prosecutor gave his opinion after going through the materials and the books of the company which were produced before him, but his opinion was not favourable to the complainant. Thereupon the complainant filed a petition of objection or, as it is called in vernacular, a naraji petition. This was before the Public Prosecutor's opinion was made available to the complainant, and the naraji petition was put in anticipation of the Public Prosecutor's opinion not being in favour of the complainant. Be that as it may, the Superintendent of Police on getting the Public Prosecutor's opinion studied the case against the accused for himself and then referred the matter to the Senior Government Pleader of Dacca for opinion. The Senior Government Pleader of Dacca examined the whole matter and finally came to the conclusion that there was nothing in the case of the complainant. There were as many as twelve charges. The first charge was that the Directors and the Secretary took an illegal gratification of Rs. 12,000 from the Sunny Valley Tea Estate in connexion with a loan given to the said tea company by the Manikganj Loan Office. This matter was examined and the second officer, who held an inquiry under the orders of the Subdivisional Officer, found that there was no foundation for the charge. The second charge was the low rate of interest charged for the loan to the Sunny Valley Tea Estate. This charge was examined by the second officer and he came to the conclusion that there was no criminality whatsoever in the matter and that the directors were in a position to give a satisfactory explanation. The third charge was that the Manikganj Loan Office purchased 150 shares of Kedarpur Tea Estate at a premium of Rs. 20 per share. The second officer was of opinion on an investigation of the charge that the purchase in question was an investment which the directors thought was for the benefit of the Loan Office and that there was no substance whatsoever in the charge. The fourth charge was about certain loan to an institution called Lakhmi Bhandar. Here again (it is not necessary to go into details) the second officer was of opinion on an investigation that the Directors of Lakhmi Bhandar had no criminal intention whatsoever in the matter. The fifth charge was that the Manikgan Loan Office made a false balance sheet in the year 1923 inasmuch as the loss of Rs. 23,000 was not shown there. In this matter the charge was very carefully discussed by the Public Prosecutor and the Government Pleader with certified auditors who perused the balance sheets from 1914 to 1930 except that of 1926 which was not made available. The Government Pleader was of opinion that the charge of false balance sheet was wholly misconceived.
3. The second officer therefore came to the conclusion that there was nothing in the charge. The sixth charge was that the Kedarpur Tea Estate, in violation of the contract with the Comilla Banking Corporation Ltd., sold some tea already hypothecated to the Comilla Banking Corporation to some other parties direct. Here, on the facts, the second officer came to the conclusion that the allegation did not touch the Manikganj Loan Office at all and that the charge could not, in any view of the matter, be considered to have been substantiated. The seventh charge was that the Directors of the Manikganj Loan Office stopped payment to the depositors but the directors withdrew their deposits and took loan at low rates. The second officer examined the details of this charge and he came to the conclusion that there was no instance of low rate of interest being charged at all. He therefore held that there was no substance whatsoever in the charge. With reference to the eighth charge relating to certain transactions with various other companies-such as the Industrial Bank, the Bazar Union Bank and so on-the investigations before the police and before the second officer showed that the facts stated in support of the charge were not true.
4. The ninth charge was about these accused persons repawning certain gold ornaments with the Bhowanipore Banking Corporation without notice to the pledgers. The second officer was of opinion that repawning was not illegal and he therefore held that there was no substance in the charge. The tenth charge was that in violation of the resolution of the directors these accused persons had invested the reserve fund on loans. With reference to this the second officer was of opinion that there might be a question of civil liability. With regard to the other two remaining charges the second officer had his doubts, but he said that his doubts were not sufficiently strong to enable him to express himself in language of positive dissent from the view taken by the Public Prosecutor; but, in any view of the matter, the Government Pleader was of opinion that there was no criminality as regards these two charges.
5. What happened was that the matter came before the Subdivisional Officer on the report of the second officer and he was definitely of opinion that only with respect to the charges based on the balance sheet of 1930 taken with the balance sheet of 1923 there could be some substance in the charges against the accused. He thereupon came to the conclusion that a prima facie case had been made out with reference to the balance sheets and that warrants should issue against various persons, namely, the present accused before us. Then it appears that the present accused surrendered; but meanwhile the accused persons had gone before the Sessions Judge and obtained a stay of proceedings. This was some time in December 1932. The Sessions Judge then went into the whole matter himself and he by his order dated 28th February 1933 was of opinion that except against two persons, Kumud Nath Choudhuri and Naresh Chandra Roy, there was no case at all to be inquired into and he thereupon referred the cases of other accused, that is, the accused other than Kumud Nath Choudhuri and Naresh Chandra Roy to this Court with a recommendation that the proceedings initiated against the other accused might be quashed. That is the subject-matter of reference No. 50 of 1933.
6. The two other accused, namely, Kumud Nath Choudhuri and Naresh Chandra Roy have come up to this Court and obtained a rule from Panckridge and Patterson, JJ., why the proceedings started against them and not referred to in the letter of reference should not also be quashed on grounds Nos. 2 and 3 in their petition. Shortly stated, their case is this that the Subdivisional Officer having come to the conclusion that the only charge worth investigating against these two accused was the charge based on the balance sheet of 1930 and the Additional Sessions Judge having definitely come to the conclusion that the said charge was entirely misconceived based on misunderstanding and misapprehension of the true facts of the balance sheet of 1930, the proceedings so initiated against these two accused persons were and are not sustainable in law, and further that the allegations with regard to the charge relating to the Lakhmi Bhandar taken with the facts disclosed in the police investigation and Magisterial inquiry before the second officer do not disclose any criminal offence.
7. We have very anxiously considered as to what should be done-not only about the order prayed for both on behalf of the persons whose names are mentioned in the letter of reference but also on behalf of the persons who have obtained Rule No. 323 of 1933 from this Court wherein it is suggested that criminal proceedings instituted against these persons should be quashed. We have also to consider the submissions made to us by Mr. Chatterji on behalf of the complainant who, it may be remembered is a depositor to the extent of a rupee. It is not suggested that because he is a depositor to the extent of a rupee he is not entitled to ventilate his grievances or to ask the Magistracy to inquire into specific matters of complaint against the present accused if on proper investigation it turns out that there are substantial grounds for inquiry. As we have said, we have very anxiously considered and we have examined the whole of the record in this case. The letter of reference in certain places may seem to be a little obscure and may be considered to have not been properly worded. But after all said and done, the facts have got to be investigated and examined by us and with the letter of reference from the Additional Sessions Judge we have examined the facts; and, although Mr. Chatterji may be entitled to say that his client is not confined to the charge based on the balance sheet of 1930, but he is entitled to roam over the entirety of the twelve charges referred to above, the point made on behalf of the accused, namely, that the Subdivisional Officer himself came to, at any rate, a tentative conclusion that there was nothing else in the various other charges worth investigating except the charge based on the balance sheet of 1930 must be taken into our consideration and given due effect. It is by no means clear that so far as the proceedings have gone, the complainant has succeeded in substantiating the charge based on the balance sheet of 1930. A reasonable explanation was given on behalf of the accused which explanation was considered by the law officers of the Grown in the particular place where the prosecution was started, where it was examined by the police, where it was examined by the head of the police and where it was examined by the second officer under the direction of the Sub-divisional Officer. All these persons came to the conclusion that there was no criminality whatsoever in the transaction relating to the balance sheet of 1930, The Additional Sessions Judge has examined the matter for himself and apparently was persuaded that there was something in the explanation given by the accused which had to be seriously considered and that it was impossible to say straightaway that a criminal intention was discoverable in what the accused had done and that the interest of justice imperatively required that these accused should be put on their trial in a criminal case. That being so, we are bound to pay considerable attention to the view of the learned Additional Sessions Judge.
8. It is true that the proceedings have gone on for a certain length of time and that the matter had not been brought to the notice of this Court as early as might have been desired. But the various proceedings which took place from the start of the complainant's case down to 28th February 1933 afford a sufficient explanation for the delay that has taken place. The police took considerable time in sifting the evidence against the accused. The second officer took considerable time in analysing for himself the evidence against the accused and coming to his own conclusion. The matter was then laid before the Subdivisional Officer who took considerable time. The matter then went before the Additional Sessions Judge and it is reasonable to conclude that having regard to the complicated nature of the charges levelled against the accused by the complainant the learned Additional Sessions Judge was, in the ordinary course of things, bound to take considerable time before he finally made up his mind one way or the other. Therefore in our view, in this particular case the accused are able to give a sufficient explanation of the delay that had taken place before this Court was moved or before the matter attracted the notice of this Court on a reference by the Additional Sessions Judge.
9. On these facts and on the findings arrived at by the Additional Sessions Judge is it proper and reasonable that the prosecution should be allowed to go on? So far as the persons referred to in the letter of reference are concerned, we think on a full consideration of the facts that this prosecution should at once be brought to a termination and the proceedings quashed against those persons. The same conclusion has been reached by us on a perusal of the petition filed in this Court by the two other accused, namely, Kumud Nath Chcudhuri and Naresh Chandra Roy and in view of the grounds which have been urged by them. The whole basis of the continuance of the prosecution against these two last mentioned persons is the balance sheet of 1930, and if, as has been indicated above, a reasonable explanation can be put forward for the balance sheet of 1930, which balance sheet, by the way, was accepted by the Government Auditor, then it is reasonable to conclude that whatever may be the ultimate view that might be taken if this question were agitated in a civil action the two accused have succeeded in giving a sufficient explanation which would entitle them to induce a Court of revision in saying that the prosecution against them should also be brought to a termination. We think that there is a good deal in what they have urged in petition to this Court and we are of opinion that they have succeeded in making good the grounds upon which they have obtained the Rule being Rule No. 323 of 1933 and we are therefore of opinion that in their case also the proceedings taken against them should be quashed. The result therefore is that the proceedings taken against all the accused persons should be quashed, and they should forthwith be released from their bail bonds.