Skip to content

Joy Chandra Sarkar Vs. Emperor - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Decided On
Reported in(1911)ILR38Cal214
AppellantJoy Chandra Sarkar
sedition - wholesale imputations of bribery against ministerial and police officers and of neglect on the part of government to inquire into such abuses--attempt to promote enmity between different classes--inveighing against hindus and mahomedans alike--penal code (act xlv of 1860), sections 124a and 153a--convictions at one trial under sections 124a and 153a of the penal code--appeal to the high court--criminal procedure code (act v of 1898) sections 35(3), 408 prov. (c). - .....of the sense of the former. i find that in some, at least, of the objectionable passages, the learned translator has overcharged or overcoloured. for instance, he translates khair khah, which is a well-known persian word now adopted into the bengalee language, as 'eater of salt,' although it means a 'well-wisher' and nothing more. he explains in cross-examination that as a sanskrit scholar he tries to derive every word from the sanskrit, and therefore, he would derive this word from khwar=ashes=salt, and khad=to eat. this is absurd and ridiculous, and any schoolboy can tell him that. then he translates pishacha as 'eater of raw flesh.' the origin of the word may be from the word pishitasa, which derivation is only conjectural, but the word is never used in this its supposed.....

D. Chatterjee, J.

1. These two appeals arise out of a prosecution of the prisoner under Sections 124A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code. The appeal against that part of the conviction which was under Section 124A was filed in this Court, and the appeal regarding the conviction under Section 153A was filed in the Sessions Court. We have called up the appeal regarding the conviction under Section 153A from the Sessions Court for trial by this Court under Section 526, and heard both the appeals. Under Section 35(3), if a person is convicted of several offences at one trial, the aggregate sentences are to be deemed as one sentence for the purpose of appeal. As the prisoner was convicted under Section 124A and sentenced to two years' rigorous imprisonment under that section, and also under Section 153A and sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment under that section, the aggregate sentence of three years should be considered as one sentence for the purpose of appeal, and as Section 408, proviso (c), provides that a person convicted under Section 124A has an appeal direct to the High Court, it is a reasonable inference that the appeal against the single sentence of three years under both the sections should lie to the High Court. It is, however, not necessary to decide this point in this case, as the appeals were separately filed and. they have been virtually unified.

2. It appears from the judgment of the learned Magistrate that the prisoner was previously convicted under the same sections and underwent imprisonment for one year for the same. We have been unable to find the judgment in that case, and do not know enough of the circumstances to allow us to consider it in connection with the question of sentence.

3. The prisoner was charged with the offence of sedition under Section 124A in respect of three articles published in the Rangpur Bartabaha, a local newspaper of the district, of Rangpur. The articles are named: (i) 'Pratikar' or redress (of grievances), (ii) 'Bijoya' or the ceremonial send-off given to the goddess Durga on the fourth day of the Puja, (iii) 'Sipahir Katha' or the talk of sipahis, being a report of an imaginary conversation between the writer and two sipahis.

4. These articles were translated by the Government translator of Eastern Bengal, and I have read and re-read the originals and the translations to see how far the latter present an honest and fair rendering of the sense of the former. I find that in some, at least, of the objectionable passages, the learned translator has overcharged or overcoloured. For instance, he translates Khair khah, which is a well-known Persian word now adopted into the Bengalee language, as 'eater of salt,' although it means a 'well-wisher' and nothing more. He explains in cross-examination that as a Sanskrit scholar he tries to derive every word from the Sanskrit, and therefore, he would derive this word from khwar=ashes=salt, and khad=to eat. This is absurd and ridiculous, and any schoolboy can tell him that. Then he translates pishacha as 'eater of raw flesh.' The origin of the word may be from the word pishitasa, which derivation is only conjectural, but the word is never used in this its supposed etymological sense. Professor Mjacdonell, of Oxford, gives the etymological 'meaning as ' moving brilliantly, the will o' the wisp,' and the meaning as a kind of 'demon.' If the object of a translation is to give the meaning in which a word is understood by the people who use the language as their mother-tongue, this translation of the word pishacha is simply absurd. The word 'daughter' is said to be derived from a root meaning to 'milk,' and etymologically would mean a 'milker;' if in translating the sentence 'Ram's daughter said so,' one renders it into 'Ram's milker, said so,' he would convey a different meaning altogether from what was intended to be said. So in translating ripurtarana in the article 'Bijoya' he renders it as 'by the oppression of the enemy,' whereas in the context in which these words occur the meaning cannot but be 'by the force of the passions. He translates this : 'Mother, that end-in-itself religion of Bengal (a religion that seeks no means to an end) has now been ill at case under the impulse of carnal desires.' This does not at all convey the sense of the sentence is, duty for duty's sake, doing good works, because they are good, without any desire for praise in this world or reward in a future existence. The translator has mistaken translated it as 'carnal desire,' whereas it is only 'desire,' meaning 'desire for the good of this world.' The word is evidently a misprint for but the learned translator has translated it as 'ill at case' as if the word were No such word as is possible in the Sanskrit or Bengali language, and means 'deformed, modified for the worse, degenerated.' If the sentence is capable of being translated, it means 'Mother, the old state of faith in which good works were done for their own sake, and not for securing a good name in this world or happiness in future, has now degenerated by the intervention of desires for the goods of this world.' The word Chandiha is rendered both by Wilson and Macdonell as the goddess Durga, but the learned translator renders it as 'Fury,' as if there were any analogy between the Furies of Greek mythology and our Chandika. This translation appears to me to be almost perverse. The learned Magistrate has very fairly admitted that some of these translations were incorrect. He cannot, however, be expected to understand the full sense of the Bengalee articles, and I have no doubt the mistranslations have to some extent influenced him against the prisoner. Going into o details upon the three articles, I find there is absolutely nothing objectionable in the article 'Bijoya.' It is the rhapsody of a devout heart on the termination of the religious festivities of the Durga Pujah. The goddess is invoked not to inflict calamities like the cyclone of October last on the country, but to come the next time in her world-fascinating Durga form, i.e., with the goddesses of wealth and learning, with the gods of protection and success surrounding her. It deplores the degeneration of faith and calls upon her to give them, the power of uniting in her worship without envy, malice or malevolence. The key to the seditious trend of the article is found in the word as a. description of the sons of Bengal; literally the words mean 'trampled under the feet of others' : it really signifies a conquered nation, and the figure of speech used is immaterial. Reading the article even with the light of the comment of the learned Magistrate and the learned Counsel for the Crown, I am unable to consider that this article was an incitation to the people to unite for overturning the British Government and the article 'Anandamoyir agaman' does not throw much adverse light.

5. The same thing cannot, however, be said of the other two articles. Although the sense is considerably disfigured by the mistranslations, there is one idea clear as running through the two articles that the Government does not care for ascertaining the real truth about grievances which exist, especially about the administration of justice. The first article, the 'Pratihar,' says that bribery in some form or other is rampant in the Courts of Justice, barring of course the judiciary who are beyond suspicion, and, therefore, poor. The writer, therefore, prays that a secret Commission might be appointed by Government for investigating the truth of the allegations, and asks society to excommunicate such ignoble bribe-takers. The sting of the article, however, lies, according to the prosecution in the concluding statement, that 'Englishmen will laugh at such a request (for a Commission to enquire into the bribery prevalent in counts, etc.), and say these people are so worthless that they expose the failings of their own countrymen to the scrutiny of others,' but the writer says: 'You have laid such a trap that we must disregard all questions of dignity and honour, and fall into them; you are the teachers, we are the disciples.' Literally read the word 'trap,' as applied to a judicial system is objectionable, but stripped of the figure of speech it means a 'complicated system,' and the writer means that people cannot help giving bribes, because otherwise they would not have their work done at all or done promptly. This is the article 'Pratikar' or redress of grievances. The learned Magistrate has misunderstood the meaning of the sentence 'the English will laugh, etc.' I do not see in this sentence read with its context any intention in the writer to excite feelings of hatred on the part of the Indian subjects of the Government towards its English subjects.

6. The next article is the 'Sipahir Katha.' This article contains a severe diatribe against stoadeshi agitators of the lawyer class. The sepoy says: 'You Baboos and Meahs, i.e., educated Hindus and Mahomedans, owe your existence as such to the British Government, in whose Courts you act as amla and take bribes, or as pleaders and muktears, in which capacity you foster litigation, and then suck the life blood of the poor cultivating class who fall into your clutches. Your agitation for the swadeshi cause cannot attract the poor classes to the same. We cannot join your swadeshi cult so long as you do not look upon us in the same light in which you look upon yourselves. You call us brothers simply for making us join with you, but all the same you do not cease to treat us hatefully whenever you can, just as the Christian missionaries make converts by calling them brothers, and after conversion treat them with contempt. The learned Magistrate might have accepted the defence theory that no mischief was meant, and that the sepoys only taunted the Baboos with their wrong methods of serving the country by boycotting foreign goods, and murdering some officials, and recommended a real brotherhood for the good of the country. To my mind the article is intended to expose the so-called swadeshi agitators, and condemn not only their methods of boycott and terrorism, but also the insincerity of their professions of brotherhood to those whose blood in the shape of hard-earned money they are said to be sucking and feeding themselves fat upon.

7. The commentary of the learned Magistrate upon the words 'swadeshi desk' is wholly erroneous, and this error is due to his not fully understanding the language and being without the aid of the translator, who said there was no sense in it. I wonder how the learned translator said so. The words are The hyphen mark after is not a hyphen connecting the words 'swadeshi' and 'desk.' It is a dash meaning, 'that is to say,' i.e., 'swadeshi, that is to say, well-wishers of the country.' This is the most obvious reading of the sentence, and I wonder the learned translator was non-plussed.

8. The sin, however, of these two articles is that they impute wholesale bribery to the ministerial officers of Courts and to the lower officers of the Police force, and express grave doubts as to whether Government ever enquire into the truth of the grievances, so much is it occupied with investigations of boycott, dacoity, and seditious matters. If these aspersions have the effect of bringing into hatred or contempt the established Government of the country, or serve to create feelings contrary to affection to the Government, we need not stop to enquire whether any part of them is true. To my mind these aspersions against the Government may have the effect of making people think that the Government is not doing its duty, and is not, therefore, a good Government. I think they go beyond fair comment, and, written at a time when the seeds of sedition are being sown broadcast and the minds of people are under excitement, they cannot be taken to have, been actuated by honest and loyal motives. I think, therefore, that, under the circumstances of the case, the conviction of the prisoner under Section 124A is right. The articles are, however, more or less 'crazy,' and the sedition is only indirect: and I think a sentence of six months rigorous imprisonment will serve the ends of justice. As regards his being the editor, all doubt is removed by his use of the editorial 'we' in respect of his last imprisonment.

9. The offence under Section 153A is not so clear, as there does not seem to be any deliberate attempt to incite one class against another. The sepoys inveigh both against Babus and Meahs aa robbing the poor, Mahosmedan ryots, and the reference to the missionaries is a foolish illustration not intended to create enmity between the missionaries and any other subjects of the King. The conviction under this section must, therefore, be set aside. This disposes of both the appeals by the prisoner.

Richardson, J.

10. I have had the opportunity of reading my learned brother's judgment, and concur with him generally in the conclusion at which he has arrived.

11. In regard to the article 'Bijoya,' the only word to which objection can fairly be made is 'para-padadalita' (trodden under the feet of strangers), which, if intended to be so applied, is not a just description of the condition of the people under the Crown. But in the context, in which it occurs, I agree that this one word is not sufficient to make the article seditious. No doubt references to demons, whether they be the allegorical demons of passion or the embodied demons of mythology, some times cover attacks of a political character. But if a particular article is charged as being seditious, on the ground that it says more than appears on the face of it, it is, of course, the duty of the prosecution to show that it has, in fact, the guilty meaning or intention attributed to it in the present case the proof of any such intention appears to fall short.

12. As to the two articles 'Pratikar' and 'Sipahir Kathd' I agree that the sweeping and unqualified character of the imputations which they make against the administration of affairs in this country, leaves no doubt that they were intended to stir up feelings of disaffection towards the Government established by law, and that in respect of these two articles the conviction of the appellant under Section 124A of the Penal Code should be affirmed. The conviction under Section 153A certainly rests upon a much more slender foundation. I may add that, in considering these articles, I have fully accepted my learned brother's authoritative opinion in regard to certain expressions, the meaning of which has been the subject of controversy. The District Magistrate did his best, on the evidence before him, fairly to appreciate the effect of the articles, and, in regard to two of the controverter expressions (khair khah and ripur tarana), he adopted the translation suggested on behalf of the defence, and now found to be correct. He may, however, have been led into taking a more serious view of the effect of the articles as a whole owing to some misconception as to the meaning of particular expressions used in them other than the two above referred to. This is more especially true of the article 'Bijoya' which, from its religious and impassioned character, is the most difficult of the three articles to interpret. Hut it is also true in respect of the words swadeshidesh, which occur in the article entitled 'Sipahir Katha.'

13. With, these brief observations I accept the orders which my learned brother proposes to make on these appeals.

Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //