Wilson and Porter, JJ.
1. The question raised in this rule is, whether on the facts found the offence of mischief was committed. [Here followed the facts and the intention with which the act was done, as found by the Deputy Magistrate.]
2. The offence of mischief is defined in Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code: 'Whoever with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property or in the situation thereof as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits mischief.' The first explanation to that section is that 'it is not essential to the offence of mischief that the offender should intend to cause loss or damage to the owner of the property injured or destroyed.' 'It is sufficient if he intends to cause, or knows that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to any person by injuring any property whether it belongs to that person or not.' And the second explanation is that, 'mischief may be committed by an act affecting property belonging to the person who commits the act.' A person therefore who destroys property which at the time belongs to himself with the intention of causing, or knowing that it is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to anybody else, is guilty of the offence of mischief.
3. Under Act XI of 1859, after a sale has taken place, and the money is paid, and thirty days have elapsed, and no appeal has been filed, the sale becomes final and conclusive.
4. The time is now altered by Section 41 of Beng. Act VII of 1868 from thirty to sixty days. Under Section 282 of Act XI of 1859, upon the sale becoming final and conclusive, the sale certificate is to be given, which sale certificate is evidence of title from the date specified in it.
5. The contention before us is that the offence of mischief was not committed in this case, because at the time when the trees were cut down, the legal title was still in the accused person, and the title of the complainant had not then become final and conclusive. No doubt the complainant's title had not become complete, nor had become final and conclusive, but it appears to us that it would be a great fallacy to say that therefore he had no such interest in the land that an interference with it might cause wrongful loss or damage. Any man who contracts to purchase property and pays in portion of the purchase-money has an interest in such property, though his, title may not be complete and his right final and conclusive; and we think it clear that he has such an interest that the destruction of the property may cause wrongful loss or damage to him. On this ground, therefore, we think that mischief has been committed in this case.
7. But there is another ground also for holding that the accused is guilty of mischief. The damage contemplated in Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code need not, necessarily, consist in the infringement of an existing, present, and complete right, but it may be caused by an act done now with the intention of defeating and rendering infructuous a right about to come into existence. This is clearly shown by illustration (d) to Section 425 itself.
8. That illustration says:
'A, knowing that his effects are about to be taken in execution in order to satisfy a debt due from him to Z, destroys those effects, with the intention of thereby preventing Z from obtaining satisfaction of the debt, and of thus causing damage to Z. A has committed mischief.' Avery little alteration in the words makes the case fit the present. A, knowing that his property has been sold in satisfaction of a public demand, in order to satisfy that public demand, and that the purchaser's title will, after the lapse of sixty days, become final and conclusive, destroys the fruit trees upon the land with the intention of thereby preventing the purchaser from obtaining the benefit of the purchase he has made, under which his title, now inchoate, will become final, and conclusive after sixty days: A has committed mischief.
9. We think, therefore, that this rule should be discharged.
1. Time for confirmation [Section 4: From the date when this act comes into operation,
of sales extended. the 'sixtieth' and 'sixty' shall be substituted for the
words 'thirtieth' and 'thirty' respectively, wherever the said
words occur in Section 27 of the said Act XI of 1859.]
2. Section 28: Immediately upon a sale becoming final and conclusive, the Collector or
other Officer as aforesaid shall give to the purchaser a
certificate of title in the form prescribed in Schedule A
Certificate of sales. annexed to this Act.
And the said certificate shall be deemed in any Court of justice
sufficient evidence of the title to the estate or share of an estate sold being vested in the
person or persons named from the date specified; and the Collector shall also notify such
transfer by written proclamation in his own office, and in the Courts of the Munsiffs and
Police Tannahs within whose jurisdictions any part of the estate or share sold shall be