1. The plaintiff in this case is the purchaser of certain immoveable property under a registered conveyance, and he brings this suit to obtain a declaration of his title to the property, his possession and quiet enjoyment having been disturbed by certain acts of the defendants.
2. The only point we have to decide is, whether the consideration for the conveyance is an unlawful consideration. The contention is, that the money for which the property was sold was used for the purpose of suppressing a criminal prosecution; that this was an unlawful object; and that the plaintiff being well aware of the unlawful purpose to which the money was about to be applied, is affected with this knowledge, and cannot enforce the contract which was made for this unlawful consideration.
3. We think that this contention is not tenable. The plaintiff was no party to the criminal prosecution. His contract for the purchase of the property was entirely separate; and there is not sufficient evidence upon the record to show, first, that the money was paid over to the person who instituted the criminal prosecution under circumstances which would make this payment a breach of the law; and secondly, that the plaintiff was well aware of the whole of these facts. Having regard to the provisions of the exception to Section 2141 of the Indian Penal Code, it is clear that it is not every compromise of a criminal prosecution out of Court which is a breach of the positive law. In this particular instance the prosecution was for a criminal breach of trust, and there is probably no class of criminal cases between which and matters of purely civil remedy it is more difficult to draw the line accurately. Under these circumstances, we think that, as the contract in this case was not made with the prosecutor in the criminal case, but was a wholly separate contract, and as the facts are not sufficiently well proved to show that that compromise was a breach of the positive law, and that the plaintiff was well aware of this, and that those facts constituted a breach of the law, we think that the contention of the appellant cannot succeed. The appeal must, therefore, be dismissed with costs.
4. I concur in dismissing this appeal. The law on this point, supposing that the agreement had been made directly with the plaintiff, is thus summed up by Mr. Pollock in his Principles of Contract (p. 342, 2nd ed): 'A makes an agreement with B, who intends, by means of something to be obtained or done under it, to effect an unlawful or immoral purpose. If A does not know of this purpose, there is a contract voidable at his option when he discovers it. If he does know of it, the agreement is void.' In the present instance, the District Judge finds that there is no evidence to show that the plaintiff was aware of the object to be attained by this agreement, supposing it to be immoral; and on that ground, in my opinion, the case was rightly decided.
1[Section 214: Whoever gives or causes, or offers or agrees to give or cause, any gratification to any person, or to restore or cause the restoration of any property to any person, in consideration of that person's concealing an offence, or of his screening any person from legal punishment for any offence, or of his not proceeding against any person for the purpose of bringing him to legal punishment, shall, if the offence is punishable with death, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the offence is punishable with transportation for life, or with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the offence is punishable with imprisonment not extending to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of the description provided for the offence for a term which may extend to one-fourth part of the longest term of imprisonment provided for the offence, or with fine, or with both.
Exception.--The provisions of Sections 213 and 214 do not extend to any case in which the offence consists only of an act irrespective of the intention of the offender and for which act the person injured may bring a civil action.]
Offering gift or restoration of property in consideration of screening offender.
If a capital offence.
If punishable with transportation for life, or with imprisonment.