1. This Rule has been issued on the District Magistrate of 24-Parganas to show cause why the conviction of the petitioner under Section 501 and the sentence of fine of Rs. 20 passed on him under that section should not be set aside.
2. The two grounds urged before me are first that statement of the accused under Section 342, Criminal Procedure Code, was not read over to him and his signature taken immediately after the close of the prosecution and that therefore, the trial was illegal. The other point is that there was manifestly no reliable evidence on which the Court could have based its conviction.
3. As regards the first point, I find that when it was brought to the notice of the Magistrate that the statement was not read over to the accused the latter was given an opportunity of making a further statement although it has never been asserted that the original statement was not correct. In the circumstances, this is not a ground for interference with the order which has been passed.
4. As to the other point that there was manifestly no reliable evidence, there is something to be said inasmuch as the learned Magistrate relied upon the statement of witness No. 2 Khetrapada Haldar alone having apparently disbelieved all the other prosecution witnesses. As regards the evidence of this witness the learned Magistrate himself says that he was a man of little or no substance and that he admitted that his house had been sold and claimed that he had got another house but carefully omitted to give its specification. The learned Magistrate further stated that he was distantly related to the complainant, that he went twice to the complainant's Cutchery that day for advice which he got afterwards and that he was of the nature of a chance witness. Inspite of this he says 'On the whole his evidence seems to be acceptable'. But on referring to the evidence of this witness I find that as regards the other two accused, namely, Sankara and Sidhia the learned Magistrate disbelieved his evidence inasmuch as inspite of his evidence against them the learned Magistrate acquitted these two accused. In these circumstances I think that it is strange that the learned Magistrate thought fit to accept his evidence against the petitioner. However, I would not have been inclined to interfere on this ground in revision for it was quite open to the Magistrate to believe one portion of the evidence and disbelieve another. But I find on the record three pages of typed matter bearing the signature of the complainant with the heading 'Additional Notes of written argument on behalf of the prosecution'. This is dated September 30, whereas the arguments were heard on September 23. This was apparently subsequent to another set of notes which also bears the same date and were also put in by the complainant consisting of ten foolscap pages of typed matter with the heading 'written notes of argument on behalf of the prosecution' There were also 84 pages of typed matter unsigned with the heading 'Notes of arguments submitted by the defence'. Although the arguments were heard on September 23, the judgment was not delivered until November 4. This practice of receiving from the Pleaders of the parties notes of arguments after a case has been heard is most reprehensible and must be discontinued. In this case, the trial has actually been invalidated because there is no indication that after these additional notes of written arguments were put in, the defence had an opportunity of replying to the points raised therein. On this ground the conviction and sentence are set aside, Had the evidence not been of such an unreliable character, I would have sent back the case for a re-trial. But in the circumstance this being a petty case and the evidence being obviously very questionable, the Rule is made absolute and the accused is acquitted.
5. The fine, if paid, will be refunded.