1. These two oases arise out of the same trial and may be conveniently disposed of together. The petitioners Ram Kumar Patlaik and Mahabir Thakur were convicted under Sections 197 and 198 and Sections 197/109 and 198/109 respectively and sentenced each to one year's rigorous imprisonment under each section, the sentences to run concurrently. The finding, which for the present purpose we may assume to be correct, was that Ram Kumar, purporting to represent the decree-holder in a certain suit, signed and filed a petition in the Court of the Sub-Judge stating, contrary to the fact, that Mahabir Thakur, the Judgment-debtor, had paid off the decretal amount to the decree-holder through him, her ammuktear, Mahabir Thakur was found to have abetted Ram Kumar in so doing.
2. The question in these Rules is whether the signed petition of Ram Kumar was a certificate within the purview of Sections 197 and 198. Both the Courts below have held that it was, but we find ourselves unable to agree with them. The mistake appears to have arisen from a careless reading of Order XXI, Rule 2, of the Civil Procedure Code and a misappreciation of the meaning of the word certify' there used. The learned Sessions Judge says 'certificates of satisfaction are required to be given by Order XXI, Rule 2, Civil Procedure Code, and it is certain that they are admissible in evidence.' A perusal of the rule shows that the word certificate finds no place there. The word 'certify' means primarily to assure, to vouch, to make certain. Every act of certifying does not necessarily result in a certificate,' meaning thereby a signed document vouching a particular fact. The word 'certificate' may no doubt be used as synonymous with 'certification' see Saadoollah Shaikh v. Kalee Churn 18 W.R. 358 but that is clearly not its meaning in Sections 197 and 198, Indian Penal Code. The decree-holder is not bound to certify in writing a payment or adjustment of his decree. It may be done orally, either by himself or any person who can properly represent him. We know of no provision of law which requires him so to certify by issuing or signing a certificate.'
3. Turning then to Sections 19' and 198, what do we find? The certificate in respect of which a man may be punished, if it is false to his knowledge or belief must be either--(1) one that is required by law to be given or signed or (2) that relates to any fact of which such certificate is by law admissible in evidence. One or other of these requirements must be fulfilled before a man can be dealt with under these sections. Neither requirement has been fulfilled in this case. There is, as above stated, no provision of law which requires a decree-holder or his agent to give or sign a certificate of payment or adjustment. Nor is there any provision of law which makes the statement of the decree-holder or his agent as to payment or satisfaction admissible in evidence as such a certificate, that is, without further proof. The statement may, no doubt, be proved against him but that is not what the section says. Various instances are given in the text books of the class of certificates contemplated by these sections. We need not enumerate them here. They are no doubt for the most part official or quasi-official certificates, certificates to be given by officials or others, as prescribed in various Statutes. There is, however, no particular limitation to the character of the certificate meant, except that which we find in Section 197 itself. It must fulfil one of the requirements there set out. If it does not, a man cannot be punished under these sections in respect of it.
4. In this view of the matter, the convictions of the petitioners cannot stand. We need not at present express any opinion on the further question whether the act of Ram Kumar brings him within the mischief of some other section or sections of the Indian Penal Code; whether he has possibly committed some other offence. Nor need we consider whether or not Mahabir Thakur has abetted him in so doing. The Rules are made absolute, the convictions and sentences on the petitioners are set aside. Their bail bonds will be discharged.