1. We cannot accept this reference which is put forward by the learned Assistant Sessions Judge of Faridpore. The learned Judge shows by the terms of his Letter of Reference that he has taken a very strong view in favour of the prosecution in this case. He asks us to consider his charge to the jury in which no doubt he brought to their notice once again the facts upon which the prosecution rested the case before him. The letter is divided into eight paragraphs; seven of these are concerned with surmises on the part of the learned Judge as to the exact view that the jury must have taken when they retired with regard to the evidence produced by the Crown.
2. It is, however, in para. 8 of the letter that one finds, I think, the real reason that induced the learned Judge to bring this case before us. In that paragraph he said that
Giving effect to the verdict of the majority of the jury will lead to the anomalous result of letting off the principal offender who evaded a regular trial for a pretty long time ever since the alleged occurrence,
3. and no doubt that state of affairs is very often produced in the District Courts in similar circumstances. Although one can appreciate the anxiety on the part of the learned Judge to have what he considers to be equal justice done with reference to all the persons concerned in this disturbance, yet this reason put forward in para. 8 is in no way a determining reason to be considered judicially by a Court of appeal. If the letter of reference was stripped of all the matter contained in the preceding 7 paragraphs, and para. 8 was alone brought before us to consider, this question would be all the more apparent as not being a consideration that we can act upon as an appellate Court. The power of making references on the part of Judges engaged in criminal work in the districts is one that should be used very sparingly. It is an artificial power which is the creature of statute only. And in my experience it is most often utilised by Judges, zealous indeed to perform their duties but usually somewhat inexperienced in the principles of criminal procedure. I repeat again what I have said on several occasions since sitting in this Court, that as long as it is the policy of the Government of this country to rely on the verdicts of juries in the district, a policy which is supported by both the profession and the public and a policy which is cherished by the accused persons who are brought up for trial, so long must reliance be placed upon the decisions of juries and they must not be disturbed unless it can be shown beyond a peradventure that a perverse verdict has been arrived at, which can be demonstrated clearly from a perusal of the proceedings of the Court. The reference therefore is rejected. The accused must be set at liberty immediately.
4. I agree.