1. The facts involved in the case out of which this Rule has arisen, shortly stated, are as follows: It appears that certain unauthorized news-sheets or unauthorized newspapers were being produced at premises No. 9, Sibnarain Das Lane, in the town of Calcutta. These unauthorized news sheets or news papers were being produced from an undeclared press. The police acting under the provisions of Section 16, Indian Press Emergency Powers Act (23 of 1931), entered into the said premises and seized the said unauthorized news-sheets or unauthorized news papers. As a result of the seizure certain persons, whose names are not material, were prosecuted and convicted by the Magistrate and sentenced adequately. The police on the date of the entry into the premises, without obtaining at warrant as contemplated in Section 17 of the said Act, proceeded to search the said premises with a view to seize the press from which the unauthorized news-sheets or news papers were being produced. The police officer making the search made a report of the search and the Magistrate being of opinion that the press seized by the police officer in the circumstances stated above was an undeclared press made an order declaring the press forfeited to His Majesty. It is against this order that the present Rule has been directed.
2. Mr. Bhattacharjee who appears in support of the Rule has urged two contentions before us: His first contention is that the police officer for the purpose of seizing the press under Section 17 of the said Act had not been armed with a search warrant as is contemplated in Section 17 and that therefore the search and the seizure of the press were illegal and that, that being so, the Magistrate could not make the order which he did under the provisions of Section 17(3) of the Act. In the second place Mr. Bhattacharjee has contended that the order forfeiting the press to His Majesty was made in the absence of the petitioner who had the press under his custody and control; in other words, Mr. Bhattacharjee has contended that as soon as the proceeding under S 16 of the Act was brought to a termination the Magistrate then and there made an order forfeiting the press to His Majesty under the provisions of Section 17(3). We have examined the record and heard the learned Deputy Legal Remembrancer against the Rule and Mr, Khundkar with his customary frankness has admitted that the proceedings under Section 17, sub Sections (1) and (2), were, in the circumstances of this particular case, irregular; in other words, Mr. Khundkar had made it clear that the police had no search warrant authorizing them to seize the press in question and that the police officer who made the report of the search had not, as is indicated above, any authority from the Magistrate to seize the press. Mr. Khundkar has not also challenged the accuracy of Mr. Bhattacharji's contention that the order declaring the press to be forfeited to His Majesty was not passed in the presence of the person, i.e. the petitioner who had the custody and control of the press in question.
3. In the circumstances it follows as an irresistible conclusion that the entire proceedings on the part of the police in this case were irregular and unauthorized in the eye of the law. That being so, we have no other alternative but to set aside the order of the Chief Presidency Magistrate. The result therefore is that the order of forfeiture made by the Magistrate is set aside. Any consequential order which follows from the order just made will no doubt be made by the Magistrate on a proper application being made to him.