1. The petitioners in this matter, whose names are T.G. Studdert and A.W. Turner obtained an open Rule nisi from the Court in the following circumstances: The respondent to the Rule is one J.F. Logan. He was at one time in the employ of a Company known as Samuel Osborne Ltd. He was their Manager in Bombay. After he was no longer in the employ of the Company he adopted the course of circularising a number of Firms and Government Departments making prima facie defamatory accusations against his former employers. The petitioners are Directors of Samuel Osborne Ltd. For the purpose of self-protection this Firm instructed their solicitors, Messrs. Sandersons and Morgans, in regard to these circulars that I have mentioned and in the usual course acting, in my opinion, with perfect propriety, they warned the respondent, J.F. Logan, of the consequences of continuing to issue these statements; but they were prepared, so they said in one of their letters, to refrain from instituting criminal proceedings against him if he was prepared to give an undertaking not to continue these circulars. So far from giving this undertaking ho invited prosecution and consequently Samuel Osborne Ltd, by their representatives, instituted, in last January, a complaint against Logan under Section 500, I.P.C., the section which deals with defamation. A few weeks before this was done and whilst the correspondence with regard to the defamation case was still going on, by way of a counterblast, Logan proceeded to launch a complaint under another section of the Code in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Goalundo in the Faridpur district. That section, the section which he employed was Section 506 of the Code, the section which deals with illegal threats and he cited as the accused Samuel Osborne Ltd., through their Directors, the two petitioners here. Section 506 of the Code is based upon Section 503, a section which deals with illegal threats to a person's reputation and property with the criminal intention of causing the person threatened to be in alarm or with the criminal purpose of inducing the person threatened to refrain from some course or to do something which he is not legally bound to do by law.
2. It is not, in my opinion, a very happily worded section from the point of view that it is very easy to understand like so many amended sections of the Penal Code which endeavour to reproduce with accuracy well known offences which have been dealt with for years in English Common law. But in my opinion it is quite impossible to apply that section to the action of professional advisers endeavouring to protect their lay clients from what, they are of the opinion, amount to criminal attacks of a defamatory character. As my learned brother during the course of the arguments pointed out, if one was able to draw the petitioners here into such a suggested crime they could only be regarded in law as accessories before the fact to their own legal advisers. By no possible stretch of imagination am I able to see that the letter upon which the respondent apparently based his claim in the Subdivisional Magistrate's Court could be regarded as a threat within the meaning of Section 503 on the part of the two petitioners; and I think it ought also to be remarked that the learned Sub-divisional Magistrate himself, with a display of good sense, appears to have been extremely doubtful, to use his own words, 'that the accusation is such as to make a ground for criminal action'. The Rule was on the former occasion argued before us mainly on the ground of transfer. We have now had the benefit of full arguments on the further and more important question as to whether the prosecution under Section 506 should not be quashed against the two petitioners under the circumstances. In my opinion it is of such a frivolous and artificial nature and so obviously a counterblast to the action taken by the Firm in which the petitioners are Directors that it ought to be quashed. The question of transfer, therefore, no longer arises and the order of the Court is that the Rule shall be made absolute in the sense that I have indicated.
3. I agree. Before the respondent can ask for process against the petitioners he must produce some materials to show that they threatened him with injury to his person, reputation or property. The intimidation that they would have recourse to the Court, unless satisfaction was previously tendered, cannot possibly be said to be a threat of injury of any sort or kind. Then, in the second place, the petition does not show that the petitioners themselves made the threat. It is admitted that the threat was made by Sanderson and Morgans but I suppose the idea is that the petitioners were guilty of abetment although the petition of complaint is extremely vague about it. The actual accused person in the petition of complaint is a Firm known as Samuel Osborne Ltd. It is quite obvious that a Firm cannot commit an offence under Section 506, Penal Code. The petitioners are merely dragged in as representatives of this accused Firm. There is nothing in the letter of Sandersons & Morgans to show that either Studdert or Turner had anything to do with the matter. The result is that even if Sandersons & Morgans were guilty of the crime of intimidation there were no materials before the Magistrate to show that either of the individual petitioners had anything to do with it. I therefore agree that this is a case in which the proceedings ought to be quashed.