1. This is a petition for revision of an order of a learned Magistrate directing certain accused persons to execute a bond in the sum of Rs. 600 with two sureties of like amount for keeping the peace until the conclusion of a certain enquiry.
2. The petitioners were being prosecuted under Section 110, Criminal P. C. The learned Magistrate was hearing the case in camp. Whilst the case was proceeding there was an outcry that there was a fire in a neighbouring house and everybody seems to have run out including the learned Magistrate. The learned Magistrate in his judgment says that he learnt from some man and two females who were inmates of a hut which was burning that they had seen one Tari running out from behind the hut as soon as it was on fire. Tari, it was said, was a sister of three of the petitioners and either the landlord or the paramour of the fourth petitioner. The hut which was burning belonged to two persons, Srinath Roy and Debendra Roy, who were prosecution witnesses in the case. The learned Magistrate said that he inspected the fencing which had been broken down in order to obtain access to the rear of the hut, and then he went out with the police in search of the woman. They failed to find the woman and then returned to continue hearing the case. Apparently fire again broke out in this hut or huts and there was another outcry and people ran about.
3. The police appear to have applied to the learned Magistrate praying that he should cancel the bail of the four accused persons and direct that they should enter into bonds. The learned Magistrate admits that there were no witnesses whom he could examine. Nevertheless, he came to the conclusion that there was not the slightest doubt that public tranquillity had been badly disturbed by the action of an agent of the accused persons and that there was ground for public apprehension. Unless action was immediately taken further mischief might be engineered by them against the witnesses.
4. The only basis for this finding is a statement made to the Magistrate outside the Court by some man and two women that they had seen Tari running away from behind the hut. Whether Tari set fire to these huts or not is impossible to say, but the learned Magistrate appears to have overlooked entirely that he was a judicial officer who could only act judicially. Cancelling bail and demanding bonds are matters which cannot be decided on hearsay, but could only be decided upon proper material presented to the learned Magistrate in the proper manner. He cannot act on hearsay and tittle-tattle, and it appears to me that there was no material at all here upon which the order could have been made. The most that can be said was that there was a suspicion that Tari was connected with this fire, but it in no way follows that Tari was the agent of the accused, though of course she might have been. But before an order of this sort would have been made some material should have been before the Magistrate which would have amounted to proof. There was no material of any kind and the learned Magistrate acted on the suggestion of the police immediately.
5. In my view, this order cannot possibly be sustained and must be set aside, and the accused must be released on their original bail immediately.
6. The rule is made absolute and disposed of accordingly.