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Ram Krishna Sinha and ors. Vs. Emperor - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Decided On
Reported inAIR1938Cal195
AppellantRam Krishna Sinha and ors.
Cases Referred and Aspinall v. Reg
- biswas, j.1. these are three rules arising out of the same trial which were heard together. the petitioner in rule 265 is ram krishna sinha, a pleader practising in the burdwan courts, that in rule 266 is tarak nath das, a bench clerk of the second munsif's court at burdwan and that in rule 267 is a clerk of the said pleader, radhaballav samanta. the main charge against them was one of conspiracy on several counts, the conspiracy being one to abstract court-fee stamps from court records and use them again, knowing that they had been used before. the removal of such a stamp from a document with intent to cause loss to government is made an offence under section 261, i.p.c., while the using of a stamp known to have been used before is an offence under section 262. a common charge of.....

Biswas, J.

1. These are three rules arising out of the same trial which were heard together. The petitioner in Rule 265 is Ram Krishna Sinha, a pleader practising in the Burdwan Courts, that in Rule 266 is Tarak Nath Das, a Bench clerk of the Second Munsif's Court at Burdwan and that in Rule 267 is a clerk of the said pleader, Radhaballav Samanta. The main charge against them was one of conspiracy on several counts, the conspiracy being one to abstract court-fee stamps from Court records and use them again, knowing that they had been used before. The removal of such a stamp from a document with intent to cause loss to Government is made an offence under Section 261, I.P.C., while the using of a stamp known to have been used before is an offence under Section 262. A common charge of conspiracy was laid against all the three accused under Section 120-B read with either of these sections and with Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant). Against the Bench Clerk, there was an additional charge of a substantive offence under Section 409 as well as one under Section 34 (3), Court-fees Act, for selling stamps without being a person appointed to sell them, this last charge being in respect of three such sales on different dates in the course of a year. Against the pleader and his clerk, there was an additional charge under Section 262, I. P. C, this also in respect of three such offences committed within the space of twelve months. The petitioners were tried by a Magistrate of the First Class, Mr. V.C. Dutt, the second officer at Burdwan, and convicted on all the charges. The sentences were as follows:

Ramkishna.-Two years' rigorous imprisonment under Section 120- B/409 and two years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500 (in default further rigorous imprisonment for six months) under Section 262, no separate sentence being passed under Section 120-B/261 or Section 120-B/262,

Tarak. - Two years' rigorous imprisonment under Section 120-B/409, two years' rigorous imprisonment under Section 409, and two years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500 (in default further rigorous imprisonment for six months) under Section 120 B/261, no separate sentence being passed under Section 120-B/262 or Section 34 (3), Court-fees Act.

Radhaballav.-Eighteen months' rigorous imprisonment under Section 120-B/409 and eighteen months' rigorous imprisonment under Section 262, no separate sentence being passed under Section 120-B/261 or Section 120-B/262,

2. The sentences of imprisonment in each case were to run concurrently. On appeal to the Sessions Judge, the conviction and sentence passed on Tarak under Section 409 only were set aside; otherwise the convictions and sentences of all the accused were maintained. A preliminary point was taken on behalf of the petitioners which it is necessary to dispose of first : it was that the trial before Mr. V.C. Dutt was without jurisdiction, and consequently void ab initio. It appears that the S.D.O. of Burdwan, Mr. B. Sinha, took cognizance of the case under Section 190 (1), Clause (b), Criminal P.C. on a police report and finally fixed the hearing for 8th May 1935, directing that the case would go on from day to day from that date. On this date, however, Mr. Sinha happened to be away on tour, and the second officer Mr. V. C. Dutt was in charge of the S.D.O.'s file at headquarters. The case accordingly came before him on the fixed date, when on the application of the Public Prosecutor it was adjourned to 18th May. The order which Mr. Dutt recorded was this : 'Fix case for 18th May 1935 and on subsequent dates as already fixed. Accused as before.' Pursuant to this order, Mr. Dutt took up the hearing on and from 18th May apparently without any objection from the accused at that stage. At the conclusion of the evidence however on the date prosecution arguments were to commence, a petition was filed on their behalf complaining that the case had not been properly transferred to the Court of Mr. V.C. Dutt, and that as such the proceedings were ultra vires. The learned Magistrate rejected the petition by the following order:

The case was taken cognizance of by the S.D.O., Sadar, and was taken up for hearing by me as second officer from the general file of the S.D.O. There seems to be no irregularity, or if any it is very technical and curable under Section 537, Criminal P.C.

3. The Magistrate proceeded to hear arguments, and in the end convicted and sentenced the petitioners as already stated. In answer to the same objection which they renewed in this Court in the petitions on which the rules were issued, the trying Magistrate has submitted the following explanation:

The learned Deputy Magistrate (meaning Mr. V.C. Dutt himself) was acting as S.D.O., and he intended to try the case himself and to transfer the case to himself, but forgot to write the order. The defect, if any, is formal, and no prejudice has resulted.

4. The record showed that Mr. Dutt was acting as S.D.O. on 8th May but it was not quite clear whether he was also so acting on 18th May. At our suggestion a reference was made by the Deputy Legal Remembrancer to the District Magistrate to ascertain the facts. The information received shows that Mr. Dutt was in charge of the S.D.O.'s file on both dates. The District Magistrate reports that there is a standing order that when the sadar S.D.O. is away on tour, the second officer is to carry on the work of his general file at headquarters. The District Magistrate has not been able to trace this particular order, but the existence of such an order may be assumed, for otherwise this would lead to a dislocation of all business for which the District Magistrate is responsible : see in this connexion the observations of this Court in Kishorilal Roy v. Srinath Roy (1909) 36 Cal 370 at p. 373. The question which arises is whether in these circumstances Mr. Dutt was competent to commence the trial before himself on 18th May. Ordinarily, it is a Magistrate taking cognizance of a case who can try it, but in certain circumstances the trial may be held by another Magistrate in accordance with express provisions made in the Criminal Procedure Code in this behalf.

5. The provision which is mainly relied on by the Crown in the present case is Sub-section (1) of Section 192. This sub-section empowers a Sub Divisional Magistrate to transfer any case of which he has taken cognizance for inquiry or trial to any Magistrate subordinate to him. Prima facie, this would be of no assistance to the Crown, as this requires that in order that Mr. Dutt acting as S.D.O. could transfer the case for trial to himself as second officer, he must have taken cognizance of the case himself. To meet this difficulty, Mr. Bhattacharyya relies on the curative provisions of Clause (f) of Section 529, which says that if a Magistrate, not being empowered by law in this behalf, transfers a case under Section 192, his proceedings shall not be set aside merely on that ground.

6. Two questions arise upon this contention, first, as to when Mr. Dutt made the transfer, on 8th or on 18th May and whether at the time he was validly acting as S. D. O.; and secondly, whether the case would come under Clause (f) of Section 529. On the first point, Mr. Bhattacharyya submitted that Mr. Dutt was acting as S. D. O. on 18th as well as on 8th May. The petitioners contended that whether on the first or on the second date, there was no provision in the Code under which Mr. Dutt could be so acting. The answer, we think, is to be found in Section 13 of the Code. Under Sub-section (1) of this section the Local Government may place any Magistrate of the first or second class in charge of a sub-division, and relieve him of the charge as occasion requires and under Sub-section (3), this power may be delegated to the District Magistrate. It appears that there is a Notification of 1873 which was published in the Calcutta Gazette delegating to District Magistrates the powers of the Local Government under Sub-section (1). It was competent therefore for the District Magistrate here to appoint Mr. V.C. Dutt as a Sub-Divisional Magistrate on a particular date or dates or for a particular period. This he might do without relieving the permanent incumbent. The petitioners maintain that mere authority to be in charge of the S. D. O.'s file at headquarters does not amount to an appointment under Section 13. We do not think that this is a correct view to take. It means that there is an appointment, but the appointment is limited only to a particular kind of work and a particular occasion. There is nothing in Section 13 to prevent such a limited appointment being made. On a reasonable construction of this section and of the standing order, we must therefore hold that Mr. Dutt was validly appointed as S. D. O. both on 8th and 18th May to be in charge of Mr. Sinha's general file at headquarters. On which of these dates, then did he make the supposed order of transfer under Section 192? It is necessary to point out that there is no order of transfer in writing, but as Mr. Bhattacharyya rightly contends, this is not required by the terms of the section. Section 192 is unlike Section 528 in this respect, as Sub-section (5) of the latter expressly requires reasons to be recorded in writing for making an order thereunder. We have here the Magistrate's statement that he did intend to make a transfer, and the fact remains that a transfer was made. We must therefore proceed on the basis that Mr. Dutt acting as S. D. O. did make an order transferring the case for trial to his own file as second officer. We think that the order must be taken to have been made on 8th, though it would make no difference even if it is supposed to have been made on 18th. The fact that Mr. Dutt was transacting the business on the general file of the S. D. O. on either date could not divest him of his jurisdiction as second officer. Ha was quite competent therefore to have taken up the case for trial as second officer on either date. As a matter of fact, he would be disposing of business of his own file, while acting as S. D. O.

7. This takes us to the next question as to the effect of the order of transfer by reason of the fact that Mr. Dutt was not the Magistrate who had taken cognizance of the case. This was undoubtedly a defect of jurisdiction. It may be stated at once that this defect would not be cured by Section 537 as the trying Magistrate seems to think. As the wording of this section shows, and as was pointed out by this Court in Raghu Singh v. Abdul Wahab (1896) 23 Cal 442, Section 537 deals with irregularities committed by Courts of competent jurisdiction. Cases where a criminal Court does a thing which it is not empowered by law to do are dealt with in other sections, such as Sections 529, 530 and 531. According to the petitioners, the present case would be hit by Clause (p) of Section 530, which provides that if any Magistrate not being empowered by law in this behalf tries an offender, his proceedings shall be void. If this stood alone, there would obviously be no escape from the consequences contended for by the petitioners: the trial must be set aside as wholly illegal, prejudice or no prejudice to the accused. The question of prejudice would in fact be wholly irrelevant under Section 530. The next section which also deals with a case of want of jurisdiction (namely of territorial jurisdiction) expressly provides that this will vitiate the proceedings only if it has occasioned a failure of justice but there are no such qualifying words in Section 530 : no question of prejudice can there-fore arise under this section. The Crown argument accordingly, as already stated, is that the case would come under Clause (f) of Section 529. In other words, it is said that this is a case where a Magistrate not empowered by law to do so still transferred a case under Section 192 'erroneously in good faith'. That Mr. Dutt did act in good faith is not disputed: he merely acted in error, and the petitioners do not seek to set aside the trial except on this mere ground of error. There was no prejudice or failure of justice occasioned by his action. There are some oases in which it has been held that Section 529 applies only when a Magistrate who might have been empowered to do the particular thing in question is not actually so empowered, and not with oases of irremediable want of jurisdiction. In other words, Section 529 would cure only such cases as where through some oversight or other circumstances of a like nature, the Magistrate does not happen to be clothed with the necessary authority but acts in the honest belief that he has been vested with such authority. Obviously this cannot be the case where, as here, there could be no question of anybody conferring on the Magistrate jurisdiction to act in the manner he did. If it could be said, for instance, that although Mr. Dutt as S. D. O. could not transfer the case by reason of his not having taken cognizance of it, still the District Magistrate or some other authority could empower him to make the transfer, then Section 529 by Clause (f) could no doubt cure the absence of such authorization as would have given him the necessary power. But this saving clause would have no operation where the competency of Mr. Dutt to make the transfer did not depend on his being so empowered. We cannot say that this is an unreasonable interpretation of the scope and effect of Section 529, but so far as Clause (f) of this section is concerned, there are decisions of this Court in which this clause has been held to apply to cases where orders of transfer purported to be made under Section 192 by Magistrates who were not competent to do so, as not being Magistrates who had taken cognizance. The question does not appear to have been discussed in these cases from the point of view we have indicated, but on matters of this kind which are really matters of procedure, we do not think we should be justified in laying down a different rule. Following the decision in these oases, we must consequently hold in the present case that the order of transfer by Mr. V.C. Dutt as S. D. O. to himself as second officer would be rendered valid by Clause (f) of Section 529. Among other cases, we might refer to the following in this connexion : Kishorilal Roy v. Srinath Roy (1909) 36 Cal 370, Dasarath Rai v. Emperor (1909) 36 Cal 869 and Emperor v. Bhika Hossein (1912) 39 Cal 1041. It is not necessary to consider if Section 559 could be invoked to justify the proceedings. Sub-section (1) of this section provides that:

Subject to the other provisions of this Code, the powers and duties of a Judge or Magistrate may be exercised or performed by his successor in office.

8. On the view we have taken, Mr. Dutt may well be regarded as having been the successor in office of Mr. Sinha on the material date or dates in relation to the business which he was authorized to dispose of from the S.D.O.'s file. A difficulty may however arise in applying this section, from the words 'subject to the other provisions of this Code.' These words may fee supposed to exclude Section 192 from the operation of Section 559. If Section 559 is read subject to Section 192, it may well mean that the powers under the latter section are not intended to be exercisable by a successor in office. The question is not free from difficulty, and as Clause (f) of Section 529 would be enough to dispose of this case, we do not feel called upon to express any opinion on this point. Having disposed of this preliminary objection, we may now examine the points which were made regarding the form of some of the charges. The main objection was in respect of the charge of conspiracy under Section 120-B, I.P.C., read with Section 409. The charge was in these terms:

I.V.C. Dutt, Magistrate, First Class, hereby charge you (1) Ramkrishna Sinha (2) Radhaballav Samanta, (3) Tarak Nath Das as follows : - First-that you between October 1933 and the 26th day of January 1938 at Burdwan, P.S. Burdwan, agreed with each other or with others unknown, to do or cause to be done illegal acts, to wit, misappropriation by you Tarak Nath Das of adhesive court-fee stamps from the records of the Munsif Second Court, or other Courts, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 120-B read with Section 409, I.P.C. and within my cognizance.

9. It will be seen that the charge is one of a single conspiracy to do or cause to be done certain illegal acts : the illegal acts are stated to be misappropriation of stamps by Tarak Nath Das, and this is evidently regarded as constituting an offense under Section 409, which is said to be the object of the conspiracy : the conspiracy is alleged to consist in an agreement by the three accused 'with each other or 'with others unknown' and the period of the conspiracy is said to extend over one year. The misappropriation of stamps again is stated to be from the records of the second Munsif's Court or other Courts.

10. The first complaint is that particulars of the alleged misappropriation have not been given by reference to dates or documents or Courts or otherwise, and that the period charged exceeds one year. This, it is said, contravenes the provisions of Sections 222 and 234, Criminal P.C. This objection however overlooks the distinction between a charge of an offence under Section 409, I.P.C., and a charge of conspiracy to commit such an offence or offences. In the former, particulars are no doubt necessary, and such particulars must be within certain limits as laid down in the Code, but not so in the latter. It is well settled 'that in stating the object of a conspiracy, the same certainty is not required as in indictment for the offence conspired to be committed. See Archbold's Criminal Pleading, Edn. 29, p. 1419, and the cases cited there : Reg v. Ripsal (1762) 3 Burr 1320, Reg v. Blake (1844) 6 QB 126 and Sydssrff v. Reg (1848) 11 QB 245. So, an indictment charging a conspiracy 'by divers false pretences and indirect means to cheat and defraud A of his moneys' was held good: Reg v. Gompertz (1847) 9 QB 824, Rex v. Gill (1818) 2 B1& AW 204, and Aspinall v. Reg (1877) 2 Q B D 48 at p. 60. A charge of conspiracy in respect of an offence or offences under Section 409, I.P.C. need not therefore be as specific as a charge of an offence under that section. In this case, as already stated, there was a substantive charge under Section 409 against one of the accused Tarak, and this was set aside by the learned Sessions Judge applying to it the strict requirements of the Code as regards particulars. The conspiracy charge would clearly stand on a different footing. The Code does not re-quire any limit to the period over which such a charge may extend, nor any specific acts to be mentioned. Section 120-A, I. P. C, in fact expressly provides that where, as here, the conspiracy is one to commit an offence (as distinguished from a mere illegal act), no overt acts need be alleged or proved. Even where overt acts are or are required to be mentioned, it is obvious that in a charge of conspiracy, they need not be specified with such particulars or within such limits as if such overt acts wore charged as substantive offences. The gist of the offence of conspiracy does not lie in the commission of the overt acts, but in the agreement itself to commit such acts, and obviously the same considerations cannot apply to both. The first objection must accordingly fail.

11. The next ground of attack arises from the fact that the alleged misappropriation of court-fee stamps is said to be by Tarak Nath Das. This is supposed to constitute an offence under Section 409, that is to say, criminal breach of trust as a public servant. Obviously, such an offence could be committed by Tarak only in respect of stamps removed from the records of the particular Court to which he was attached, namely the Court of the Munsif, second Court. The charge however includes other Courts, and this, it is said, involves an inconsistency. There is some force in this objection, but this is an objection not to the form of the charge, but as to what the prosecution might be able to prove. If the prosecution failed to prove an offence under Section 409 in respect of stamps from the records of the other Courts, the charge would to that extent fail, but this could not affect the validity of the charge as framed. It cannot be maintained that the charge does not include the offence in respect of the stamps in the second Munsif's Court, and it is idle to say that merely because it included other Courts, the accused were prejudiced or had no notice of the case which they were called upon to meet. It may perhaps be pointed out that on the facts, the charge as it stands might well be justified, it being quite possible for records of other Courts to have been removed to the second Munsif's Court and the stamps misappropriated from these records while in the custody of Tarak in that Court. The second objection must also therefore fail.

12. The last objection taken relates to the conspiracy charge on all the three counts, that is to say the charge under 3. 120-B read with Section 409, with Section 261 and with Section 262, and arises out of the use of the word 'or' in designating the persons alleged to be in the conspiracy. As will be seen from the charge, it is thus expressed: the three accused 'agreed with each other or with others unknown'. The argument was that hereby two alternative conspiracies were charged, either a conspiracy by the three accused with each other, or a conspiracy by each of them with other persons unknown, the one being exclusive of the other, and that a conspiracy by and between the accused (or any of them) and others unknown was definitely excluded. Mr. Santosh Kumar Basu who made the first speech in the case laid a good deal of stress on this particular objection, but one fails to see any point in it which would be of use to anybody. Assuming he was right, it would still serve the prosecution fully, if the conspiracy was one only among the three accused without involving others. But on a plain reading of the charge, we do not think it can be said that a conspiracy was charged in the alternative as suggested. The word 'or' to which so much importance is attached is not used as a disjunctive, meaning that the charge is the one alternative or the other, but it is used merely because the complicity of other persons in the conspiracy was not so certain as that of the three accused. The reason for saying 'or others unknown' instead of 'and others unknown' is to avoid a possible argument that having charged a conspiracy of which the accused were members along with others, the prosecution could not succeed by merely proving a conspiracy among the three accused. A conspiracy only among the three accused would be a distinct conspiracy from one to which the accused and others were parties, and as a conspiracy charge must be proved as laid, the prosecution would naturally not be taking any risks by charging a conspiracy other than the particular one which they might be able to prove. It is impossible to say that the terms in which the charge was actually framed could or did mislead the accused in any way: at no stage were they left in any uncertainty as to what was alleged against them. Even supposing there was any defect, it was not such as would not be sufficiently met by Section 225 or Section 537, Criminal P.C. This objection must also therefore fail.

13. A complaint was also made in respect of the conspiracy charge that this was introduced only to bring in numerous in-stances of misappropriation which could not be separately charged. In other words, the suggestion was that this case illustrated the misuse of Section 120-B, I.P.C., which the Courts have so often deprecated. The objection is wholly devoid of merit. Specific offences were in fact charged against the accused in this case under Section 262 or S.409, I. P. C, or Section 34 (3), Court-fees Act, and these had to be confined to a limited number of instances as required by the Code; and over and above these, there was the charge of conspiracy, admittedly because all the instances could not be separately charged as substantive offences. It is difficult to see therefore how this could be made a grievance of. It is not as if the prosecution avoided charging any substantive offence, and used C. 120-B as a cloak and cover for their inability to prove any overt acts although it was their case that overt acts had been committed. An objection was also raised on the ground of misjoinder of charges, specially as it was said the specific offences were not stated to have been committed in pursuance of the conspiracy. But this was not necessary. As a matter of fact, the offences in respect of the specific instances were committed as parts of the same transaction with the offence of conspiracy. The objection to the joint trial of the accused is equally without substance, and does not call for any notice.

14. Turning now to the merits of the case, the case of each of the accused was dealt with separately by an analysis of the evidence, and the attempt in the main was to show that the evidence fell short of connecting the particular accused with the offences charged. As the rules were open rules, the petitioners naturally claimed to place the evidence before us, but we may state at once that the evidence was so carefully sifted, analyzed and examined by both the Courts below that nothing has been shown to us which would justify our interfering with their concurrent findings. (After dealing with the evidence, His Lordship held that the case against Ramkrishna had been fully established in respect of the charge of conspiracy as also of the charge under Section 262, I.P.C. and the judgment proceeded.) As regards the accused Tarak Nath Das, Mr. Mookerjee's argument was that he was a very much overworked officer, who might have been guilty of negligence or carelessness, but was not criminally guilty, and ha objected very strongly to any adverse inference being drawn against him from the fire which broke out in the second Munsif's Court on 28th December 1934, seeing that no charge of arson under Section 436, I.P.C., was framed against any parson. It was further argued that this particular accused was not shown to have been in charge of all the tuitions from which court-fees were found to be missing. It was finally urged that so far as the charge under Section 34 (3), Court-fees Act, was concerned, the conviction was not sustainable as no sales of stamps by Tarak on the specific dates mentioned had been proved. A further point was made that Tarak having been acquitted of the charge under Section 409, this necessarily involved an acquittal on the other charges as well, if not of conspiracy, Mr. Mookerjee also adopted the arguments of Mr. Basu so far as they went.

15. We do not think there is much merit in these objections, which have most of them been very fully and fairly dealt with by the learned Sessions Judge in his judgment. The conduct of the accused both before and after the fire was certainly a relevant matter which could be taken into account, particularly on the charge of conspiracy. If the causing of the fire could be brought home to him, that would of course have furnished almost irresistible evidence of culpability, but it does not follow that the circumstances in which the fire originated and the accused's conduct in relation thereto could not be taken into account in so far as they tended to incriminate him, along with the other evidence which was there. As the learned Judge as well as the trying Magistrate points out, there are strong reasons for suspecting that Tarak was the person responsible for the fire. The fact remains that it was the disclosures which followed the fire that led up to the present prosecution, and even if Tarak's supposed responsibility for the fire be eliminated, the evidence of the facts which came to light as a sequel thereto, is in our opinion sufficient to establish the guilt of this accused. It is not necessary to notice the other points raised by Mr. Mookerjee, which really challenge concurrent findings of the Courts below, findings, from which, upon an independent examination of the matter in the light of the arguments we see no reason to differ, except as to the charge under Section 34 (3), Court-fees Act. This charge was on three counts in respect of sale of adhesive court-fee stamps to Ram Krishna on three specific dates, 28th May, 2nd October and 11th October 1934, with-out being a person duly appointed to sell stamps. We are of opinion that to establish this charge, it was necessary for the prosecution to identify the stamps alleged to have been so sold, but admittedly the evidence falls short of this. The only evidence on the point was that of three entries in Ex, 89 under these dates. We do not think this was enough. We think accordingly that the conviction of Tarak under Section 34 (3) of the Court-fees Act, must be set aside.

16. As regards Radhaballav Samanta, Mir. Mookerjee, while practically repeating the same arguments as in the case of the other accused, urged that ha was in any view an offender in a lesser degree, being a clerk of Earn Krishna, not shown to have benefited by the alleged transactions to which he was supposed to have been a party. We hold in his case also that the charges have been fully established. The result is that in our opinion the convictions of all the three petitioners must be upheld, except those of Tarak of the offences under Section 34 (3), Court-fees Act, which must be and are hereby set aside.

17. There remains the question of sentence. As regards Ramkrishna, we are informed that a proceeding under the Legal Practitioners' Act is now pending against him in consequence of the present case, and is awaiting the result of this rule, and it is more than likely that the sentence we may pass will not be the only punishment he will suffer. The evidence is that though of a few years' standing, he was in fairly good practice, and any disciplinary action that may be taken against him will be a severe punishment by itself. As regards Tarak, his conviction will mean also his dismissal from Government service. The evidence also is that he is physically not in sound health. As for the other accused Radhaballav, as already stated, ha was an offender in a secondary degree, and this was recognized by the trying Court itself in awarding him a leaser term of imprisonment. Taking all these factors into consideration along with the fact that the accused have had to face a prolonged trial during which they were in custody for a considerable period, we think that a reduction of the sentences is called for. We cannot at the same time overlook the gravity of the offences, specially in the case of a member of the legal profession and of a Court officer occupying a position of trust and responsibility. In our opinion the ends of justice will be met if, as already stated, we affirm the convictions of all the accused, except those of Tarak Nath Das under Section 34 (3), Courts-fees Act, and modify the sentences passed by the learned Sessions Judge as follows:

Ramkrishna.-Rigorous imprisonment for one year under Section 120-B read with Section 409, no separate sentence being passed in respect of the other charges (namely, under Section 262 or B. 120-B read with Section 261 or Section 120-B read with Section 262).

Tarak Nath Das.-Rigorous imprisonment for one year under Section 120 read with 8, 409, no separate sentence being passed in respect of the other charges (namely, under Section 120-B read with Section 262 or Section 120-B read with Section 262).

Radhaballav.-Rigorous imprisonment for nine months under Section 120-B read with Section 409, no separate sentence being passed in respect of the other charges, (namely, under Section 262 or Section 120-B read with Section 261 or Section 120-B read with Section 262).

18. We direct accordingly. Subject to these modifications the rules are discharged. The petitioners will surrender to their bail and serve out their respective terms of imprisonment. The fines, if paid, will be refunded.

Guha, J.

19. I agree.

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