1. The two appellants in this case have both been convicted on three counts under Section 124-A, I. P. C. Appellant 1 Satya Ranjan Bakshi was the editor of the daily newspaper Liberty' and appellant 2 Pulin Behari Dhar was the printer and publisher of that paper. Satya Banjan Bakshi has been sentenced on that first count to nine months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500 with three months' rigorous imprisonment in default, with no separate sentence passed on him on the other two counts; Pulin Bihari Dhar has bean sentenced to a fine of Rs. 500 with six months' rigorous imprisonment in default on the first count, no separate sentence being inflicted in his case also under the other two counts.
2. The charges against the two appellants were in relation to three articles published in the 'Liberty.' One of them was published on. 10th December 1931, and was headed 'Farewell and Beware.' The second article which was headad Berhampora and After' was published only two days later, namely, the 12th December 1931, and the third article with the heading 'Bengali's duty' was published two days later, namely, on 14th December 1931. According to the prosecution, all these three articles were seditious. According to the defence, there was no sedition in any of them and the articles were only criticisms of some Government measures written with the intention to voice the deep public feeling that had been stirred up over those measures and to bring it to the notice of the proper authorities with the object of securing redress at their hands, and the defence was that the action of the accused was protected under Expls. 2 and 3, Section 124-A. The learned Magistrate did not accept this defence and holding that all the articles were seditious convicted the two appellants in the way as stated before. In the first article 'Farewell and Beware,' Government was accused of weeding out the Congress workers on the plea of suppression of terrorism. The Hijli, Dacca and Chittagong incidents were described in the article as successive stages of a well thought-out scheme of terrorisation of the masses--a scheme to crush the manhood of the province and to make the province safe for bureaucratic administration and British commerce. The people were exhorted to carry out the programme chalked out at the Berhampore Provincial Conference so that the authors and instigators of repression might be brought to their senses. In the second article that was headed ' Berhampore and After' the people were exhorted to follow the Berhampore programme with devotion and diligence and extort justice from tainted hands. It was said in this article that
it were better that Bengal was effaced from the map of India and the Bengali people became extinct than they should live in ignominy and dishonour and compromise with humiliation.
3. The incidents in Chittagong were described as organized arson in the interior of the district; that at Hijli as murder and those at Dacca as wanton raids. In this article the writer continued:
Our humiliation is so galling, our helplessness is so abject that we cannot possibly wait for uncertain constitutional developments to mature on an uncertain future date If Bengal dies, who lives Truce or no truce, we want to live. True or no truce we must have the elementary rights of civilized human beings. We cannot wait to suffer complete emasculation.
4. The Hijli, Dacca and Chittagong incidents were again described in this article as atrocities. In the third article 'Bengal's duty' the Berhampore conference was described as a definite stage in the country's march to progress and freedom and it was described also as something which had consolidated public opinion regarding state of terror. The Hijli, Dacca and Chittagong incidents were described here again as menacing gestures of official and semi-official frightfulness and the Ordinance of 1931 was described as an amalgam of despotism and madness. The passage I have quoted above from the three articles in question when taken by themselves are clear enough to show that they were strong accusations of Government and accusations put in language so strong as to leave no room for doubt that they were meant not only to excite disaffection towards Government but to bring the Government into hatred. Mr. Basu for the appellants contended that an accused ought not to be convicted for sedition on the basis only of isolated and stray passages in an article without considering the article as a whole. As an abstract proposition of law this is perfectly correct. But in the present case although I have read and re-read all the three articles from the beginning to the end, I have not been able to find anything in any of them to modify what was stated in the passage in question, or to show that the intention of the writer was anything but what I have indicated above. Our attention was drawn to the passage in the third article where Bengal was asked to' show cool courage and to the passage in the first article where she was asked to suffer and sacrifice in the cause of freedom. But almost side by side with those passages there are passages which in a way ask Bengal
to unsettle the rule of unlaw that prevails, and which tell Bengal that she must either suffer and sacrifice in the cause of freedom or crouch in ignominious surrender.
5. Mr. Bose admitted that the articles were strong criticism of Government measures but he contended that it was the duty of accused 1 as a journalist to bring to notice of the Government and to focus the attention of the Government to the deep sense of wrong and humiliation prevailing amongst the people. A journalist, it is true, may comment expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, but he must do so without attempting to excite hatred and disaffection. In the present case not only do the passages clearly indicate an attempt to excite hatred and disaffection but there was nothing in any of these articles to show that the object of the writer was to obtain alteration of the measures commented upon by any lawful means, On the other hand the people were exhorted to act and they were told that by that act they would extort justice from 'tainted hands' and would bring the authors of repression into their senses. This was by no means anything to show a desire to obtain alteration of the measures by lawful means. I am clearly of opinion that all the three articles were seditious and that being so, the conviction of the appellants under Section 124-A, I. P. C, was perfectly correct.
6. Severity of sentence Was the last contention made before us. The appellants were convicted on 3rd February 1932, when appellant 1 was sentenced to nine months' rigorous imprisonment. He has been in jail now for more than five months. We are of opinion that the ends of justice would be satisfied if we reduce the substantive sentence of imprisonment in the case of appellant 1 from nine months to six months only. The result therefore is that the conviction is upheld but the sentence of appellant 1 Satya Ranjan Bakshi reduced from nine months' rigorous imprisonment to rigorous imprisonment for six months only. The rest of the Magistrate's order will remain intact.
7. I agree.