1. In this case a Rule has been, obtained against an order of discharge of one Umananda Mukherjee who was placed on his trial under Sections 197, 420 and 404, Indian Penal Code. The charge against him was that he, knowing of the death of one Bhaba Sundari Debi, who died, on the 3rd January 1923, as her agent in respect of her Savings Bank account at Berhampur; withdrew on the 5th and 9th January 1923 in all Rs. 1,55,0 by signing two certificates to the effect that she was alive on those days. The Deputy Magistrate discharged the accused holding that Sections 420 and 401 did not apply because, as a matter of-fact, the accused was entitled to the money on the lady's death and Section 197 did not apply on the ground that the certificates given that the lady was alive and sane were not such certificates as were contemplated by Section 197, Indian Penal Code.
2. After the discharge by the Deputy Magistrate the, case came up before the District Magistrate who agreed with the Deputy Magistrate and refused to order a further enquiry.
3. Now, the point for decision to my mind appears to be whether these certificates which undoubtedly the accused gave on the 5th and 9th January 1923, that the depositor Bhaba Sundari was alive, and sane when she was already dead, are certificates which came within Section 197. Under the Government Savings Banks Act (V of 1873) under which the Post Office Savings Bank is conducted the Governor-General in, Council may make certain statutory rules. But, these rules as to payment only apply in the case of payment of deposits to minors or guardians, in the case of payment of deposits belonging to lunatics and in the case of payment of deposits by or on behalf of married women. Bhaba Sundari comes under none of these three classes. She was a widow and the accused was her brother by adoption. The certificate given under the rule that in the case of female depositors withdrawing by their authorised agents under Rule 18 the agent must sign a certificate on the application for withdrawal to the effect 'Certified that the depositor is on this day alive and sane' does not appear to be a Certificate either prescribed by the Government Savings Banks Act or by statutory rules made thereunder. The rule appears to be made for the general conduct of the Post Office business. Therefore it appears to me that the certificates given by Umananda cannot be certificates such as are covered by Section 197, Indian Penal Code. The question whether they can come under any other section of the Code which requires sanction under Section 195, Cr.P.C., is not at present before us. This is purely a private prosecution and not on the complaint of any of the officer of the Post Office.
4. In this view I agree with the finding of the Deputy Magistrate and the District Magistrate that Section 197 does, not apply. Therefore this Rule must, in my opinion, be discharged.
5. I agree with the interpretation put by my learned brother, pus the rule or rather the note to the rule framed under the Government Savings Banks Act, I should, however, like to base my opinion on the general policy which should guide us in interfering with the order of the Trial Court when discharging an accused under Section 253, Cr.P.C. This is a private prosecution by a person who has been; found by both the Courts below to have no interest in the money which was withdrawn by the accused. It has been found that the accused was the person who was entitled to this money. He is the heir to the deceased and the money would have come to him as heir. In the circumstances it is not desirable that this prosecution should proceed.
6. With regard to Section 197, I have great doubt if it applies to certificates contemplated by note 2 to Section 25 of general rules and orders framed under Government Savings Banks Act (V of 1873). That note says: 'In the case of withdrawals made from the account of female depositors by their authorised agents under Rule 18 the agent must sign the following certificate on the application for withdrawal 'Certified that the depositor is on this day alive and sane'.' My learned brother has pointed out that this rule is not one of the rules which the Governor-General in Council is authorised to make under Section 14 of Act V of 1873. But assuming that such a rule was framed under legal authority I am afraid that Section 197 is not applicable to a certificate granted under such rule. The use of the word 'certificate' in the rule has no doubt led to this confusion. In the note the word 'certificate' might, have been replaced by the word 'declaration' or 'statement'. The certificate contemplated in Section 197 to my mind, as at present advised, is, a certificate which is required by law to be given or signed for the purpose of being used in, evidence in the course of administration of justice. That section is one of the sections in the Chapter, headed 'Of False Evidence and Offences against Pubic Justice.' Section 198 which follows it makes its meaning clear. Section 198 runs thus: 'Whoever corruptly uses or attempts to use any such certificate (namely, certificate; contemplated, by Section 197) as a true certificate knowing the same to be false in any material point shall be punished in the same manner as if he gave false evidence.' This section indicates that the offence of issuing or signing a false certificate is one which is intimately connected with the administration of justice. The only thing which goes against the view is that it is not a section which requires any special sanction of a Court of Justice or of a public officer for the initiation of the proceedings. It is, however, unnecessary to go into greater details in this matter as I think that on the other grounds this Rule ought to be discharged.