1. The appellant in this case was charged under Section 6, Bengal Act 6 of 1930, read with Section 109, I.P.C., and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year. It was alleged that he received letters addressed to certain persons detained under the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act. One of the conditions of such detention is that the persons detained are not allowed to communicate with one another or with other persons without the correspondence being inspected by the police. It is alleged that the accused facilitated the conveyance of letters or information from such a detenu to other people. The accused was not aware of the contents of the letters.
2. It seems to me that a series of mistakes have been made by the authorities in connexion with this prosecution. The accused made a statement before a Magistrate. In that, it is true, he began by saying that he was guilty. But the body of the statement shows fairly clearly that what he meant was that he was not guilty of the crime, but that he was guilty of handing letters from other persons to the detenu or vice versa. Otherwise the statement indicated quite clearly that he had no criminal intention and that he acted purely from ignorance, and that even so he conveyed such letters only for the first few days and then apparently, realizing that his shop was being used as a sort of post office, he at once put an end to the matter, and told the detenu that in future he would not receive for him or give to him letters sent to his shop. Relying upon this alleged confession, the learned Judge assumed that the accused intended to plead guilty, and made the same mistake with regard to his plea under Section 364, The accused said:
I am guilty. I am a resident of a village and am not very literate. I did not know that I was committing an offence. The moment I came to know that it was an offence I confessed the whole truth to the Sub-divisional Officer of Naogaon and to the officer in charge of Badalgachi. I shall never do such a thing again. I committed an offence without knowing.
3. That is not a confession of guilt, but an assertion of innocence, and the learned Judge ought to have pointed out to the accused that before he could be found guilty of this offence, it must be shown that he wilfully and intentionally committed an act which he knew to be unlawful in the sense that it was an infraction of the criminal law. If these criticisms were not sufficient to dispose of this case, one has only to observe that the charge was that the accused, between certain dates, intentionally abetted the commission of an offence under Section 6, Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act (6 of 1930) by detenu Manindra Nath Guha alias Jharu, to wit, that he knowingly and intentionally aided the above detenu in receiving uncensored correspondence, namely, the postcard, Ex. 5, and the two letters, Ex. 3, which he received by post and delivered them secretly to the detenu without submitting them to the officer in charge of Badalgachi police station to be censored in contravention of conditions laid down in paras. 9 and 10 of the Government Order, Ex. 1, which was duly served on Monindra and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 6. He was therefore charged with aiding and abetting the detenu in receiving correspondence in contravention of conditions laid down in the Government order which was never served upon the accused and of which he had no knowledge whatever.
4. This order was not an act of the legislature which it is presumed that every citizen has knowledge of. This was an order in the sense of a private order served upon this particular detenu. It is obvious that the accused cannot be convicted of acting in contravention of something of which he has no knowledge, and of which he cannot obtain any knowledge, because the order was not a public document in the sense that it is available to the public generally. In these circumstances it is clear that the conviction and sentences must be set aside and the accused is acquitted. The appellant, who is on bail, will be discharged from his bail bond.
5. I agree.