1. The plaintiff, who is the appellant in this case, sued for a declaration that certain documents executed by him in favour of the defendants were invalid and void for want of consideration. It appears that in the Court of first instance the case Was tried on the question whether the plaintiff executed the documents under coercion. The Court of first instance found that there was no coercion exercised upon the plaintiff and the suit was dismissed.
2. On appeal the finding of the Court of first instance on the point was affirmed, but then it was contended before that Court that the contracts were opposed to public policy as they were entered into for compounding a criminal case. The learned Subordinate Judge points out that the plaintiff had been summoned only under Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code. An offence under Section 325 can be compounded with the permission of the Court; and the Magistrate gave permission to compound the case. We have been referred to the case of Nujebar Rahman v. Muktashed Husain 15 Ind. Cas. 259; 16 C.W.N. 854; 40 C. 113 by the learned Pleader for the appellant, but in that case the contract was entered into in order to stifle a non-compoundable criminal case, and all that that case decided was that it was contrary to public policy to compound a non-compoundable criminal case and any agreement to that end is wholly void in law.
3. It was contended by the learned Pleader for the appellants that although an offence under Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code is compoundable with the permission of the Court, the plaintiff was also accused of having committed an offence under Section 147 of the Code in the petition of complaint before the Magistrate and the learned Pleader relied upon the case of Williams v. Bayley (1856) I H.L. 20) at p. 220; 35 L.J. Ch. 717; 12 Jur. (N.S.) 875; 14 L.T. 802 in support of the proposition that where a contract is entered into in order to avoid a criminal prosecution even before the case is brought into Court, the agreement is invalid as being Opposed to public policy. In that case, however, the father of the person who had been accused of having committed forgery, took upon himself the liability with the knowledge that unless he did so, his son would be exposed to a criminal prosecution with a moral certainty of conviction, and it was held that under the circumstances he was not a free and a voluntary agent and the agreement he made was not enforcible in equity. In the present case the plaintiff, it is true, was accused of having committed offences under Sections 325 and 147, Indian Penal Code, in the petition of complaint, but the Magistrate after perusing the petition of complaint and examining the complainant (as he must have done) thought fit to summon the plaintiff only under Section 325. Then, again, there is nothing to show that there was any truth whatsoever in the allegations as to rioting or that there was any apprehension in the mind of the plaintiff that he would be convicted under that section. As we have said, the only section under which he was summoned was Section 325 and an offence under that section is compoundable with the permission of the Magistrate. The Magistrate did permit it and the parties entered into a compromise for settling their long-standing disputes. It is to be observed that the complainant in that case, who is the respondent in this appeal, was also accused under Section 325. The parties settled their longstanding disputes by executing the documents and by payment of money in cash. We think that under the circumstances the decree of the lower Appellate Court is correct and this appeal must be dismissed, but without costs as the respondents do not appeal.