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Satindra Nath Sen and ors. Vs. Emperor - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject Criminal
Decided On
Reported inAIR1931Cal18
AppellantSatindra Nath Sen and ors.
- oppose the union there, they naturally called in the volunteers. there is no evidence that satin went there himself but there is evidence that he sent his volunteers to assist.5. a minor event in which the volunteers concerned themselves about this time was in opposing a project to present an address to the simon commission; they picketed the meeting of the district board convened to discuss the subject, and it was only when the chairman agreed to drop the matter that he and other members were allowed to attend the meeting. ramesh chandra das (p. w. 65) says, satin sen, benoy sen, srimanta, nitai and botokristo were against the picketers. altafuddin (p. w. 66) saw satin sen, rabi and dhintok amongst them.6. we also hear of satin sen and his volunteers in connexion with the.....

Jack, J.

1. The appellants have been ordered to give security for good behaviour on the ground that they habitually commit or abet the commission of offences involving a breach of the peace and are of so desperate and dangerous a character as to render their being at large without security hazardous to the community.

2. The appellants are said to have associated together in what is known as the Satyagraha movement which started at Patuakhali in the Backergunje District in 1926 in connexion with a dispute between the Hindus and Mahomedans because the latter objected to Hindu processions with music passing a certain mosque. The authorities intervened and, in order to prevent breaches of the peace, such processions were prohibited. The members of this movement defied the law and a number of them were sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Some of the younger and more active members came to be known as Satin Sen's volunteers as they were enthusiastic followers of Satin Sen. They were by common repute responsible for a number of cases in which Mahomedans were assaulted and also those who were opposed to the Satyagraha movement including Government officers some of whom had to have special police protection owing to fear of assault by the volunteers. On 20th March 1928, proceedings under Section 110, Criminal P.C., were drawn up against Satin Sen and a number of these voluteers.

3. On 7th July 1928, a compromise of the dispute about processions passing mosques with music was arranged between the Satyagrahis and Mahomedan leaders whereupon the proceedings under Section 110, Criminal P. C, and certain other cases were withdrawn, and it was hoped that there would henceforth be peace in the District. Against Satin Sen himself the proceedings had been cancelled on the technical ground that he was outside the jurisdiction of the Court on the date the proceedings were drawn up. It is urged with some force that conduct prior to the compromise should not be taken into account unless there is evidence that subsequently the appellants were guilty of abetting the commission of offences involving a breach of the peace, and certainly it would not be right to base an order under Section 110, Criminal P.C., only on events which took place before July 1928. And unfortunately by their success in connexion with the mosque dispute (the terms of the compromise were that processions with music should be allowed to pass the mosques, subject to executive orders), the volunteer element seems to have become imbued with a sense of their power of remedying what they considered to be wrongs of the people by a defiance of law. No sooner had the mosque dispute been settled than Satin Sen's volunteers became involved in a renewal of his previous activities in opposition to Union Boards. These Union Boards were unpopular parties because, in order to carry out sanitary work etc., in the villages, a small addition to the chaukidari. tax was required. Satin Sen's volunteers were called in to help in opposing the realization of the tax in the case of Deoli Village Union; when property was attached people were deterred by threats from purchasing it; and finally the houses of the president and tax collectors were burnt down when they persisted in trying to realize taxes, and they were forced to resign. This was in the latter part of 1928. This attack on the Deoli Union Board organization was a recrudescence of earlier attacks some years previously on other Union Boards in the District led by Satin Sen of which we have evidence in the case of the Union Boards of Surajamani, Laukhati, Srirampur and Moradia. In the case of Surjamani we have evidence that Satin Sen demanded that the tax collector should, resign, otherwise he might be insulted and even lose his life. At Laukhati when the S.D.O. with an Inspector and armed police went down to assist in collecting' the tax, he had an encounter with Satin Sen and his volunteers. The Inspector says that Sen pushed him down. The version of the defence is that Satin was first attacked. In any case the volunteers made it impossible to realize the rates by sale of property attached as people were too terrified to buy. There is evidence that at Srirampur the houses of the president and a member of the Union Board were burnt down shortly after. Satin Sen visited the village and spoke against the Union Board.

4. As a result largely of the activities of the volunteers, the Union Boards had to be established in these places and hence, when some Deoli people in 1928 wanted to oppose the Union there, they naturally called in the volunteers. There is no evidence that Satin went there himself but there is evidence that he sent his volunteers to assist.

5. A minor event in which the volunteers concerned themselves about this time was in opposing a project to present an address to the Simon Commission; they picketed the meeting of the District Board convened to discuss the subject, and it was only when the Chairman agreed to drop the matter that he and other members were allowed to attend the meeting. Ramesh Chandra Das (P. W. 65) says, Satin Sen, Benoy Sen, Srimanta, Nitai and Botokristo were against the picketers. Altafuddin (P. W. 66) saw Satin Sen, Rabi and Dhintok amongst them.

6. We also hear of Satin Sen and his volunteers in connexion with the Barisal Agricultural Exhibition which commenced on 23rd January 1929. They endeavoured to prevent people going by picketing; people who went were insulted and abused, and the volunteers tried to block the entrance by lying down in a body in front of the gate. Satin Sen arrived on 29th and addressed the pleaders in the Bar Library telling them that these exhibitions were a farce; that people who went to them were being cheated of their money; that Government had no intention of benefiting the agriculturists, and that by this agitation against the Exhibition, Government were unmasked. He told them ho wanted to create a ' situation ' in the district. On the next day a crowd of 250 or 300 people collected at the Town Hall in Barisal; Satin Sen was with them. The police had received information (the source is not disclosed but it is not unlikely that they had, at least, good reason to suspect) that Satin Sen intended to lead a procession to demonstrate against the Exhibition, in spite of the fact that unlicensed processions had been prohibited. Sub-Inspector Jyotish Chandra Roy arrested him under Section 107, Criminal P.C., but released him when the Exhibition was over as there was no longer any danger of a breach of the peace in that connexion. Before arresting him the Sub-Inspector asked Satin Sen it he was going out with a procession without a license, a question to which he declined to give a reply. It may be true, as the defence allege, that Satin Sen was not present when the boycott of the Exhibition commenced as it seems doubtful if ho was at Barisal on that occasion before 29th January. But after his arrival he seems to have encouraged rather than discouraged the volunteers in conduct involving a breach of the peace.

7. On the 1st February Satin Sen delivered a speech in which he said:

the time had come to do or die in order to get Swaraj; they were to follow in the footsteps of the Irish, the Turks and the Chinese. He wanted some bold workers to assist him so that Barisal might play her part in the movement best of all.

8. Though the record of the speech was made from the recollection of a Sub-Inspector when attending the meeting for the purpose of noting the speeches, there can be little doubt that the record is materially correct. One can easily imagine the effect of such speeches on the impressionable minds of Satin Sen's young followers who looked up to him as a hero, and it was one of them Romesh Chandra Chatterjee, who less than six weeks later murdered the Sub-Inspector Jyotis Chandra Roy who had arrested Satin Sen under Section 107, Criminal P.C., on 30th January. Two of the other appellants, Srimanta and Nitai, were seen in Romesh's company loitering in suspicious circumstances on the road just before Romesh stabbed the Sub-Inspector with a dagger very similar to one which came from a local shop. Dagger play was taught at a local gymnasium by the appellant Butta Kristo Mukerjee to Srimanta and Nitai as well as to Romesh Chatterjee. There is evidence that Satin Sen was interested in this gymnasium, and there can be little doubt that it was there that Romesh learnt the skill in the use of the dagger that he displayed in the murder of the Sub-Inspector. There is no evidence of course that this crime was directly instigated but there can be little doubt that it was the outcome of influences such as that of Satin Sen setting at nought the forces of law and order. Doubtless Satin Sen did not directly recommend violent methods at least in the first instance, but he certainly advocated bringing pressure to bear by such means as boycott which generally led to violence and which he must have known would lead to violence, when practised by his more ardent followers. When Inspector Altafuddin was inquiring into cases of assault which had occurred on 24th February 1929 in answer to a question Satin Sen said to him:

If a Hindu were injured by a Mussalman why should he go to the Magistrate or police; he (Satin) himself knew the remedy if any wrong were done to a Hindu.

9. His methods are illustrated by the treatment accorded to the Marriage Registrar at Patuakhali who having paid a visit to the jail as jail visitor was roughly handled on coming out by the volunteers headed by Satin Sen who called out ' Why is this fellow here-- Remove him ' He signed to some one and the Mahomedan Registrar's arms were seized and he was pulled out by the coat by a number of volunteers until Muslims and police interfered.

10. A more serious case occurred in March 1928:

11. When Hemanta Kumar Rudra, former Chairman of the Municipality and Secretary of the Bar Association, was opposing Satyagraha, Satin Sen had threatened that unless ' he mended his ways he would be severely assaulted by his boys.' This is corroborated by several witnesses. Not long after this threat Hemanta Rudra was stabbed from behind' one evening with a dagger. He suspected two boys who had been shadowing him for two or three days previously.

12. Following the Exhibition boycott, the ' next course which Satin Sen and his volunteers adopted was that of the tenants of the local zamindar Rajeswar Rai Chowdhury amongst whom were numbered two-thirds of the residents of Patuakhali. Rajeswar Babu had newly come into the estate. He was insisting that the tenants should execute kabuliyats and instituted suits against those who were refractory. Satin Sen, though having apparently no personal interest, threatened to start Satyagraha and bring pressure to bear on Rajeswar Babu by means of boycott, etc., in order to create an unrest' or 'situation' which would compel the attention of the authorities so that Rajeswar Babu might be forced to :relinquish his determination to eject those who refused to execute kabuliyats. Rajeswar Babu's manager had to keep a guard from the estate to protect him as he was afraid of attack by the volunteers. When he went to the bazar to canvass for a municipal election he was abused by volunteers who adopted an offensive attitude. He says: 'We know by bitter experience in Patuakhali that there is no passive resistance in Satyagraha.' Another illustration of Satin Sen's attitude towards constituted authority is his statement that he was anxious that the municipal grant should be restored to the Latiff Seminary 'as he expected to get 16 revolutionaries' annually frond the school.' Though on behalf of the defence the apparent improbability of his making such a statement to the Municipal Chairman Umesh Ch. Chatterjee has been pointed out, that he did so has been corroborated by witnesses of some standing and this statement can only be attributed to the overweening confidence inspired by 'his success in causing trouble in the district.

13. We get inside information as to the aims and objects of these volunteers from the witness Ram Sankar Bhattacharjee. He was formerly an excise peon, but was induced to join the Satyagraha movement and became an active member having been three times convicted in connexion with it. He says the volunteers were annoyed with M. Abdul Halim Chaudhury because he tried and convicted many of them inflicting severe sentences and because he took part in a cow sacrifice. They had several discussions as to how they could 'punish' him before he left the district. Satin Sen took part in these discussions, also Hira Lal Das Gupta, Phoni Lal Chatterji, Rabindra Nath Ray amongst the appellants. The outcome was that one evening, when M. Abdul Halim was returning from the Court escorted by a constable, he (Ram Sankar) and the appellants Deben Dutta, Binode Kanjilal, Rabindra Nath Roy and others were sitting together at a house close to the road, and after he passed, Deben Dutta went up to him, hit him on the head with a stick and ran away whereupon they all ran in different directions. It is not disputed that M. Abdul Halim Chaudhury was assaulted in this manner, but argued that no reliance can be placed on this description of the occurrence as the place where the assault, took place, according to M. Abdul Halim, is some distance from where this witness puts it. The description is however detailed, the witness involves himself and it does not seem likely that he is giving a false account of the occurrence. The witness in the course of his evidence says:

We who went for Satyagraha went to free the country and to thrust aside any opposition which came against us by force, if necessary, even to the extent of laying down our lives. This was our creed. It was part of our creed to pursue it even to the extent of taking the lives of others.

14. This witness agrees that Satin Sen at the cost of his life would do good to others, nurse the sick and benefit the country. Other witnesses too have given evidence showing that Satin Sen may have been actuated by laudable motives, e. g. Khan Sahib A.E. Khan, then Sub-divisional Officer of Patuakhali, says Satin was very anxious to bring about a real settlement between Hindus and Mahomedans and came to him for advice. It is the means he employed to rectify what he thought was wrong that brought him into disrepute since his methods frequently involved breaches of the peace and kept people in dread of assault if they opposed his projects.

15. The defence have elicited in cross-examination of certain witnesses statements to. the effect that they believed Satin Sen's creed to be non-violent, but this does not fit in with a number of occurrences going to show that he made little attempt to check, but rather encouraged, violence in his followers. For instance, when M. Abdul Halim went to the jail on bearing of riot there between Satyagraha and ordinary prisoners, he found a crowd outside the jail trying to force an entry into the jail. Satin Sen was amongst them. When the witness was trying to pacify them Satin Sen pointed to him saying he is the leader. There is no evidence that Satin Sen made any attempt to pacify the crowd or prevent them resorting to violence. It is true, that when Erfanuddin Ahmad, a clerk of the criminal Court, was struck on the head by some of his followers engaged in forcing a hartal, Satin Sen said to him sympathetically: 'They have hit you on the head, have they?' but he must have been perfectly well aware that such violence was the inevitable outcome of the doctrines he preached and therefore he must be regarded as an abettor of such breaches of the peace since he instigated them by his propaganda against the forces of law and order. Other instances might be cited from the evidence in which he was directly involved but sufficient has been said to show that by the methods he adopted he habitually abetted offences involving a breach of the peace and has therefore rightly been ordered to give security under Section 118, Criminal P.C.

16. With regard to the other appellants, Counsel for the Crown argues that the Magistrates' order for security should be upheld in respect of them all. It is admitted that with regard to a (large) number of them there is little evidence connecting them with any activity on the part of Satin subsequent to July 1928. In fact this observation applies to them all except No. 3, Dinesh Chandra Sen, No. 7 Hira Lal Das Gupta, No. 12 Sri-manta Bhattacharjee, No. 13 Phani Bhusan Banerjee and No. 14 Butta Krishna Misra.

17. The learned Public Prosecutor however points out that all the appellants have admittedly been at one time or another Satin's volunteers and he argues that since the organization has not been dissolved it is incumbent upon each appellant to show that at the time of the Magistrate's order he has disassociated himself from it. This view implies that membership of the association is in itself a reason for demanding security. We cannot agree; the association has never been declared unlawful and though some of its activities have been shown to involve breach of the peace, it does not follow that all of them do so. We have not sufficient evidence to say that it is proper that security should be demanded from persons who were certainly volunteers prior to July 1928 and may evens be so still, but who have not been shown to have taken an active part in any undesirable conduct since the settlement of the Patuakhali communal dispute regarding procession passing mosques.

18. It follows that the order made against the appellants other than those we have; just indicated must be set aside and their appeals allowed.

19. As to the five appellants against whom post-compromise activities are alleged, we find that No. 3 Dinesh Chandra Sen, who was an exceptionally active volunteer in the pre-compromise period and is especially mentioned by several witnesses as having used violent and abusive language in connexion with a municipal election at Patuakhali, took a leading part in picketting the Exhibition.

20. No. 7 Hira Lal Das Gupta took an active part in picketting the Exhibition (see P.W. 65). He was arrested in connexion with the murder of the Sub-Inspector but discharged. On 9th November 1926 he was convicted under Section 32 of the Police Act. His association with Satin is not denied and indeed in, the case of most of the appellants, counsel has sought to justify, rather than to deny, what they are said to have done in their capacity as Satin's volunteers.

21. As to Srimanta Bhattacharjee No. 12V Phani Bhusan Banerjee alias Nitai, and Butto Krishna Misra; we have already dealt with their association with Ramesh Chatterjee, the murderer of Sub-Inspector J. C. Roy. Further they have all taken an active part in the picketting both of the District Board meeting in December 1928 and of Exhibition of January 1929..

22. Having considered the evidence we have come to the conclusion that the; participation of these five appellants since July 1928 in disorderly activities on' the part of Satin's volunteers has been satisfactorily brought home to them and it is proper that they should be called upon to furnish security to be of good behaviour.

23. We think however that the amount of security ordered by the Chief Presidency Magistrate is unduly large, and in our opinion the sums demanded should not be more than the appellants may reasonably be expected to furnish. We therefore modify the order which is the subject-matter of this appeal as follows:

We direct that appellant 1 Satindra Nath Sen do execute a bond for his good behaviour for a period of three years for Rs. 1,000 with one surety; that' appellant 3 Dinesh Chandra Sen alias Taroo do execute a bond for his good behaviour for a period of three years for Rs. 500 with one surety; that appellant 7 Hira Lal Das Gupta do execute a bond for his good behaviour for a period of three years for Rs. 300 with one surety, and that the appellants, 12 Srimanta Bhattacharjee, No. 13 Phani Bhusan Banerjee alias Nitaij and No. 14 Butto Krishna Misra do each of them execute a bond for his good behaviour for a period of two years for Rs. 250 with one surety. We are informed that appellants Nos. 12 and 13 are minors; if this is so, their bonds will be executed by their sureties only. The period of the bonds will be calculated from 29th October 1929 the date of the Chief Presidency Magistrate's order and the bonds will be executed on or before 15th August 1930.

24. The appeals of the remaining appellants are allowed and the order of the Chief Presidency Magistrate with regard to them is set aside.

Panckridge, J.

25. I agree.

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