1. The appellant in this case, one Brojendra Nath Gupta, is the editor, printer and publisher of the daily paper 'Advance.' He has been convicted under Section 4, Ordinance 5 of 1930, read with Section 109, I. P.C., and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000, in default six weeks' rigorous imprisonment. The ease against him was that he published in a certain issue of his paper the notice which forms the subject of the charge. By this notice the students are asked to concentrate on peaceful picketing in front of the Presidency and Bethune Colleges and the Burabazar area. The notice is signed by one Basanti Devi. The sole point which has been argued before me is that 'what is described as peaceful picketing does not come within the definition of molestation as defined in Section 3, Ordinance 5 of 1930.
2. The section runs as follows:
For the purpose of this Chapter a person is said to molest another person who, with a view to cause such other person to abstain from doing or to do any act which such other person has a right to do or abstain from doing obstructs or uses violence or intimidates such other person or any one in whom such person is interested or loiters at or near a house where such person or anyone in whom such person is interested resides or works or carries on business or happens to be or persistently follows him from place to place or interferes with any property owned or used by him or deprives him of or hinders him in the use thereof.
3. The argument before me has centred round the word 'cause' and the contention seems to be that 'cause' in the ordinance does not bear its usual meaning but implies something like coercion, force or intimidation of some kind.
4. Read as it stands the word could not bear this meaning. Words are to be presumed to be used in statutes or ordinances with their usual meaning and the word 'cause' by itself would certainly not imply the use of any coercion or force. Moreover it is clear from the wording of the section itself that 'cause' is used in the section in its ordinary meaning. The section runs:
Who with a view to cause...obstructs or uses violence or intimidates ....or loiters at or near a house...
5. From the mere fact that obstructing or using force or intimidating is specifically referred to, it is clear that violence, obstruction or intimidation is not necessarily included in the word 'cause.' Otherwise it would be unnecessary to specifically mention obstruction, violence or intimidation.
6. Mr. Chatterjee argues however that if we look at the statements of objects and reasons for which the ordinance was enacted it will be clear that 'cause' has the meaning which Mr. Chatterjee would assign to it. Mr. Chatterjee would rely on that portion of the statement which begins:
But what is not legitimate is for those...to protect the natural freedom or action of those who may wish to sell and most who may wish to buy.
7. It seems to me that in interpreting a statute or ordinance we must look first of all to the statute itself and when the words are perfectly plain we need look no further. Whether statements of objects and reasons or the proceedings of the legislature can be looked to in interpreting a statute has been elaborately discussed by Mukerji J., in the case of Dina Nath v. Raja Sati Prasad A.I.R. 1923 Cal. 74, with that very learned Judge's accustomed thoroughness and completeness and I cannot profitably add anything to it.
8. Mr. Chatterjee seems to contend that the arguments which would be sound ones in the case of the Act of the Legislature would have no force in the case of an ordinance because the statement of objects and reasons of the ordinance are both the work of one mind, H. E. the Viceroy.
9. I do not think so. The principle would still be the same that the only safe and certain grounds for the Court is the Act or ordinance itself. To speculate as to what was really intended by considering the statement of objects and reasons would be to my mind a dangerous proceeding.
10. In the present case the words of Section 3 of the ordinance are perfectly clear and would certainly cover the operation known as peaceful picketing, for the peaceful picketer outside the Presidency College or the other place referred to was to be there to cause the students not to enter the College and for that purpose he was to loiter near the Collage. He might cause them not to enter by mere persuasion or possibly by simply being there. If it was his purpose to loiter there with the view to causing them not to enter the College, even though it was by the sight of him, ha comes within the mischief of the ordinance.
11. The conviction is therefore right. I have been addressed on the question of sentence.
12. Whether a fine is severe or not depends to a large extent on the position and status of the person fined. What would be a severe punishment in one case would be practically none in another.
13. Further the gravity of this particular offence would depend on the circumstance existing at the time when the offence was committed. Of all these matters' the Magistrate is probably the best judge, and I am not prepared to interfere.
14. The appeal is dismissed.
15. For the same reasons the appeal of Jugal Kishore Dhar (Appeal No. 672 of 1930) is likewise dismissed.