1. The petitioners in this case have been convicted under Section 18 (1), Press Emergency Powers Act 23 of 1931, and sentenced to three months' rigorous imprisonment each. It is alleged that they were concerned in making, publishing and distributing an unauthorized news-sheet. Two questions have been argued on behalf of the petitioners. First, it is contended that the document in question in respect of which they have been charged is not a news-sheet within the meaning of the Act : and secondly, that in any case, the sentences passed are much too severe. As regards the first point, it is to be observed that 'news-sheet' has been defined in Clause (6) of Section 2 to mean any document other than a newspaper, containing public news or comments on public news or any matter described in Sub-section (i) of Section 4. ''Newspaper' is defined in Clause (5) of the section to mean any periodical work containing public news or comments on public news. We have read the leaflet in question, and we are satisfied that it comes within the definition of a news-sheet. It purports to be an exhortation to the public to strive for freedom or independence. But in the course of this exhortation, it contains matters which certainly may be described as news in the sense of information on definite events of topical interest. There are no doubt references to matters of historical interest. But that is not all that this leaflet contains. In one passage, for instance, it is stated that an agrarian revolution is imminent. This certainly is imparting news. Then, again, it is said:
The invincible desire of the nation for the attainment of independence did not weaken ... The people, disabled and dying through famine, flood and starvation are again waking up. The invincible desire for the attainment of independence la making the whole country restive, even today thousands of young men and women without trial are passing the momenta that are not in their control behind the prison walls.
2. Here again, is a matter which easily comes within the definition of 'news;' further in the concluding paragraph there is an express reference to the happenings in Spain from which a moral is sought to be drawn for this country. The reference to the events of Spain is undoubtedly a matter of contemporaneous interest, and it can hardly be disputed that it is 'news' within the meaning of the Act. In any event, there can be no question that the leaflet is replete with comments on events of topical importance or interest, and in that sense must be regarded as a news-sheet. In this view of the matter, it is not necessary to consider whether or not the leaflet may be brought within the definition on the ground that it also contains matters described in Sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Act. If the leaflet is held to be an unauthorized news-sheet, there can be no question on the evidence that an offence under Section 18 (1) has been established against the petitioners.
3. There remains, therefore, the question of sentence. The learned Chief Presidency Magistrate has treated all the four petitioners as guilty in the same degree. We do not think, however, that this is justified. As against the petitioners, Shamsul Huda and Monoranjan Sur, the only evidence is that they helped in distributing the leaflet, one at a meeting at the Halliday Park and the other at a meeting at the Sradhananda Park. It is not shown that there was any connexion between these two accused and the other petitioners from before, or in the matter of the preparation or printing of the leaflet in question. We think therefore that in their cases the sentence passed is severe, and the ends of justice will be met, if the sentence in each case is reduced to the period already served.
4. As regards the other two petitioners Monoranjan Ray and Abdul Jabbar, it appears that both are members of certain Unions and were interested in getting this leaflet printed and circulated. Monoranjan's own statement is that he met Abdul Jabbar at the labour office and that he took Abdul Jabbar round to the Printing Works where he acted as an interpreter in order to render the leaflet into Bengalee. The order for printing was also given by Monoranjan. As regards Abdul Jabbar, he was the man who wanted to have this leaflet printed and he gave the order to print on the final proof copy of the leaflet. We see no reason to interfere with the sentences passed on these two accused. The result is that subject to the modification we have indicated as regards the sentences on Shamsul Huda and Monoranjan Sur, this rule is discharged. The petitioners Monoranjan Ray and Abdul Jabbar, who are on bail, will surrender to their bail and serve out the sentences imposed upon them.
5. I agree. I only desire to say that there appears to have been a most glaring misjoinder in this case. But the petitioners cannot be compelled to take a point which would only result in the harassment of a new trial, if it were decided in their favour. So whatever might have been our decision on that aspect of the case we certainly should not be justified in ordering the petitioners to be retried when they do not desire any such relief.