C.C. Ghose, J.
1. In this case the appellants before us are two in number and they have been convicted by the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate under Section 124A, I.P.C., the first appellant being sentenced to simple imprisonment for two months and a fine of Rs. 350 and in default one month's simple imprisonment, the second appellant being sentenced to a fine of Rs. 100 and in default simple imprisonment for two months.
2. The prosecution is in respect of an article contributed by one Jnananjan Neogi, which appears in Vol. I, Part II, at page 5 of a Bengali weekly newspaper published in Calcutta called the 'Atma Sakti.' The original of the article which is in the vernacular has been handed to us and we have had the advantage of perusing the translation thereof which is Ex. (1) in this case.
3. The principles which should guide us in finding out for ourselves the intention of a person who is charged under Section 124A. I.P.C. have been recently referred to by us in our judgment in the case of Satyaranjan Bikski v. Emperor : AIR1927Cal698 commonly known as the 'Forward' case and also to some extent in our judgment delivered last week in what is known as 'The Hindi Punch' case Iswari Prasad v. Emperor : AIR1927Cal747 . There cannot be much doubt that the gist of the offence lies in the intention of the writer and that the intention is not to be gathered from isolated or stray passages here and there. It must be gathered from a fair and generous reading of the article in respect of which the charge ha,3 been laid. In gathering the intention, allowance must be made, as has been repeatedly held, for a certain amount of latitude to writers in the public press.
4. The section under which the charge is laid is in such wide terms that unless it is very strictly or narrowly construed, there is real danger that legitimate criticizm may be stifled altogether. Now, much of this article is unobjectionable; indeed the portion of the article in which the writer calls upon Hindus and Mahomedans to sink their differences and to unite in a common cause for the good of the country cannot be taken exception to. But we regret to observe there is also much in the article which, by means of attribution of base, improper and dishonorable motives to the Government and by means of innuendoes, comes well within the mischief of Section 124A. In particular we desire to refer to a passage in the article which runs as follows:
The bureaucracy scented trouble on getting a hint of this situation. If the Moslem sets himself to build up India's future, hand in hand with the Hindu, then indeed the English are helpless. That is why the bureaucracy are today busy designing how the Indian Moslem cm be kept under control and bringing conflict between Hindus and Moslems and making the life of the Hindus miserable. Congress, swaraj, election, khaddar, patriotic service - all - may be indefinitely postponed. The bureaucracy are now busy winning over the Moslems. That is why they are patting them on the back and are continuing to grant the unreasonable requests of Abdur Rahim. Do you think that the trickery of the bureaucracy is not thus kindling up the flame of conflict to-day? Do you ask me to believe that he, over whose empire the sun never sets, has not power enough to stop rioting or preserve the peace in Calcutta? He did stop it at last. If he wished he could have stopped it earlier also. By stopping it he has proved that he had the power and the arrangements necessary to; stop it. If he had the power, why did he not stop it in time? Because he had a purpose. What was it? To set fire to the house.
5. It is plainly suggested in the article that the riots which took place in Calcutta in the summer of 1926 were allowed to continue because of the motive which the Government had, namely to keep the Hindus and Mahomedans apart by favouring the Mahomedans. The writer goes on to say that the Government did eventually put a stop to the riots, but he asks why was it that the Government did not put a stop to the riots at an early period. The suggestion clearly is that the Government had a motive behind their action and that such motive was no other than to prevent the Hindus and Mahomedans from uniting. There is also in the rest of the article, as indicated above, a very considerable amount of innuendoes. Therefore, taking the article as a whole and making every allowance for the portion of the article which is innocuous or inoffensive, one cannot but come to the conclusion that the argument of the writer was to show that the only obstacle to Hindus and Mahomedans coming together was the presence of a third party, namely, the Government who were animated by a bad political motive. In this view of the matter, the article comes within the rule laid down by us in the 'Forward' case Satyaranjan Prasad v. Emperor : AIR1927Cal698 .
6. The result, therefore, is that this appeal must stand dismissed. The first appellant who is on bail will surrender to his bail and serve out the sentence imposed on him. We are informed that the second appellant has paid the fine imposed on him.