Mitra and Fletcher, JJ.
1. The petitioner has been bound down under Section 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the sum of rupees five thousand, with two sureties each in like sum, to be of good behaviour for one year.
2. The charges against, the petitioner are contained in the notice issued under Section 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which is this:--'Whereas from the police report it has been made to appear before me that you, Beni Bhushau Roy, on Saturday, the 25th May, read out a written speech as President of the Reception Committee of a meeting held at the Hindu Dharma-Sabha within the Khulna town on the aforesaid date, in the course of which you referred to the present year as being very auspicious for the inauguration of the meeting, as it was the fiftieth anniverary of the Indian Mutiny, when there was an attempt of the natives of India to regain their country which was almost successful, and you incited the members of the meeting to exert themselves to secure an independent government and you, the said Beni Bhushan Roy, thereby disseminated seditious matters, the publication of which is punishable under Section 124A, you are hereby required to show cause, on or before the 30th June 1907, why you should not be ordered to execute a bond for five thousand rupees with two sureties each in like sum for good behaviour for one year, under Section 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.'
3. Evidence was gone into on the question as to what were the exact words of the speech of the petitioner which would bring the case within the words considered to be seditious and referred to in the notice.
4. The first and the principal witness examined was Fazlur Rahaman, a Sub-Inspector of Police. He took down certain notes of the speech at the meeting, but he destroyed the notes and produced in Court a memorandum made by himself from the notes he had taken down. The exact words used by the petitioner in his speech cannot, therefore, be ascertained, but the District Magistrate of Khulna has found that the words used are substantially the same as given in the notice. Looking, however, to the substance only and not the exact words, there is nothing which would bring the case within Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, and, therefore, Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Deputy Legal Remembrancer, on behalf of the Crown, has conceded that there is nothing in the words 'that the present year is very auspicious for the inauguration of the meeting, as it is the fiftieth anniversary of the Indian Mutiny' which may be held to be seditious hut he relies on the use of the words 'independent government' in the next clause. The word which, it is said, was actually used is 'Hansraj' (swaraj). The words 'independent government' were not used, and it does not appear from the evidence of the witness Fazlur that the petitioner in his speech said that the people should have 'independent government' The word swaraj, if it was used, does not necessarily mean government of the country to the exclusion of the present Government, but its ordinary acceptance is 'home rule' under the Government. The vernacular word used, if literally translated, would mean self-government, but self-government would not necessarily mean the exclusion of the present Government or independence. It may mean, as it is now well understood, government by the people themselves under the King and under British Sovereignty.
5. We are, therefore, of opinion that there is nothing in the charges, as stated in the notice, which would bring the case within Section 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. We accordingly set aside the order of the District Magistrate of Khulna, dated the 15th July 1907, and direct that the bonds, if any, executed by the petitioner and his sureties be cancelled.