1. This case comes before us on a reference under Section 307, Criminal Procedure Code, made by the Sessions Judge of Burdwan.
2. The accused Bibhudananda Chakravarty was placed on his trial on three charges under Section 477A, Indian Penal Code, the Jury was unanimous in finding him not guilty, and the learned Judge has referred the case to this Court, as he thinks it necessary to do so in the ends of justioe.
3. The allegations against the aooussed are as follows : He was a olerk in the Certificate Department at Burdwan, and he was in charge of the section which dealt with requisitions under the Public Demands Recovery Act made on behalf of estates under the management of the Court of Wards. In April 1917, several requisitions were filed by a Pleader on behalf of the Manager of the Karotiya Estate. Each requisition bore a Court-fee stamp, and was aooompanied by a stamped Vakalatnamas, In the latter part of 1918, irregularities were suspeoted in the office, and an enquiry was made : in the course of that enquiry it was disooversd that the requisitions and Vakalatnamas just mentioned had been tampered with. The Court-fees upon them appeared to have been taken from other papers and attached to the requisitions and the Vakalatnamas in lieu of the Court-fee stamps which they originally bore. In answer to a question put by the learned Judge the Jury replied that they believed that such tampering had taken place. In fact it is obvious that the Court fee stamps on Exhibits 6, 7, 8, two Vakalatnamas and one requisition, are not the stamps that were attached to those papers when they were filed originally. Thi3 is not denied on behalf of the defence.
4. The question of fact in the lower Court was wfietiierit was the accused who was guilty of substituting used Court fee stampsfor the new stamps. But before dealing with that question, we have to deal with the contention raised on behalf of the accused that the facts allseed do not constitute an offence under Section 477A of the Penal Code. Some doubt upon the question was evidently present to the minds of those who framed the charges, for the offense was described as 'altering papers', the papers being the Vakalatnamas in two counts and the requisition in the third.
5. For the aoaused it is pointed out that the marginal note desoribes the offence as falsification of accounts, and that the explanation to the section imports the same idea, namely, that the section refers to something in the way of book-keeping or written aoaounts. Here it may be noted that no registers are said to have been tampered with so as to bring the entries in the registers into oonformity with the papers as they were after the substitution of used stamps for new stamps. A second line of argument is based on a reference to the English Acts. The Section 477A of the Penal Code is almost identioal with Section 1 of the Falsification of Aooounts Act, 1875 (38 and 39 Viot. Order 24). All the cases oited by Russel on Grimes in the Chapter dealing with that Act are cases in which fraud was committed by falsifying some form of aooount, and thereby keeping some part of the money reoeived by the servant from reaching the hands of the master. These cases show the use made of the section in England, and not one of them bears any likeness to the allegations in the present case. Farther, in 1891 there was passed the Stamp Duties Management Act (54 and 55 Vict. Order 38) and in Section 13 nine punishable aots are described, of which the fourth, and still more the sixth, are very similar to the acts alleged against the aoaused. The argument is that when the Act of 1875 has not apparently been used as suitable for dealing with aots like those now under investigation, and a second Statute does make' provision for punishing such aots, the inferenoe necessarily is that the section which the Indian Legislature has copied from the English Statute should 'be interpreted in the same way as the section in the English Statute, more partioularly as the Statute of 1891 had been already enacted when Section 477A was added to the Penal Code by the Amending Act.
6. I think 'there ia considerable force in the argument. But apart from this line of reasoning, it seems clear to me that on a plain reading of Section 477A the aots alleged against the aoonsed cannot be brought within its scope without straining the words of the section.
7. I think we ought to hold that even assuming the allegations to be proved, the accused cannot be held guilty under Section 477A. It may be that there is some other section in the Penal Code or in some other eoaotment which would cover the facts of the case, but on that we express no opinion.
8. Taking the above view I think we should reject the reference and order that the aoaused be aaquitted of the three charges preferred against him under Section 477A of the Penal Code.
Syed Shamsul Huda, J.
9. I agree.