1. The six petitioners in this case have had their bonds forfeited under Section 514, Criminal P.C. The bonds were for appearance before the Union Bench of Biur in the District of Bankura in two oases Nos. 4 and 7 of 1937. The bonds were in the prescribed form as given in form No. 6 of Schedule B of the Union Board and Union Court Rules framed by the Local Government under the Village Self. Government Act. The ground on which the forfeiture order is challenged is that the bonds did not specify the place where the accused were required to appear. It appears that the trial was held at a place Bitur, that being the usual place for the sitting of the Bench. On the particular date on which the petitioners are charged as having been absent, the Bench sat not at this place but at another village called Biur where the Bench met for the purpose of local enquiry. The petitioners say that in view of this local enquiry they waited in their respective homes, but not being informed about the exact spot where the Bench was going to sit for the purpose of local enquiry, they were unable to turn up. The order of the Union Bench is vary laconic and does not appear to deal with this objection at all. All that is said in the order is that the accused were absent on a particular date in question in spite of their having executed bonds and that therefore they were liable to forfeit the amount of the bonds.
2. The learned Subdivisional Officer who was moved by the petitioners against the order of the Union Bench, thinks that this plea was disingenuous and goes on to say that Biur was a small village and the accused should have known the Bench was going to sit. I do not think that the learned Subdivisional Officer should have disposed of the matter so summarily. The petitioners were entitled to have their objection gone into by the Union Bench itself, but I do not propose on that account to send back the case to the Union Bench for further enquiry. The fact remains that the bonds did not specify any particular place where the Court was going to sit, nor does it appear from the order sheet that the accused had knowledge of the change of venue. Apart from that, on looking into the record, it appears that none of the bonds was actually executed by any of the petitioners. The only signature in the bonds was that of the President of the Union Bench, but he was not the person who bound himself by the instrument. There is in the printed form as given in the Schedule of the Rules a space for signature which must mean the signature of the party executing the bond. Below that there are the words 'President of the Union Bench.' But this does not Indicate that the space for signature shown on the top of it is meant for the President and not for the party executing the bond. The President's signature is apparently required along with the seal of the Union Bench for authentication of the bond, but this does not dispense with the signature of the executing party.
3. It is clear therefore that on these grounds the order of forfeiture must be set aside. The penalty if paid will be refunded. It appears that this amount has been referred to as fine. It is not really fine, but penalty incurred by way of forfeiture under Section 514, Criminal P.C. The order is that this penalty should be refunded.