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B. Ram Saran Das Johri vs Emperor

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|22 March, 1934


1. These are two criminal revisions: one on behalf of Ramsaran Das Johri, who has been sentenced to 3 months' rigorous imprisonment under Section 18(1) of Act 23 of 1931 read with Sections 15 and 16 of Act 23 of 1932, and the other of Buddhi, who has been sentenced under the same Section 18(1) of act 23 of 1931 to 6 months' rigorous imprisonment. Both cases come from Muttra District and the same pamphlet which is the subject of the charge against Johri, is one of she three pamphlets which were the subject of the charge against Buddhi. It will therefore be appropriate to pass one order in revision; and the cases have been argued together. It is admitted that this pamphlet dated 1st November 1933 was written by the accased Johri, and it is proved that it was distributed by the accused Buddhi. The charge against the accused is that the pamphlet comes under the definition of an unauthorised news-sheet by these provisions. Section 16(h) of Act 23 of 1932 refers to a pamphlet which tends to "promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of His Majesty's subjects" and it is provided that such a pamphlet shall come under Section 4(1) of Act 23 of 1931, and therefore shall be defined as a news sheet according to Section 2(6) of that Act. If the pamphlet comes within the kind of pamphlet described as promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes then the pamphlet becomes a news sheet, and a person who publishes or distributes that news sheet will be guilty of publishing an unauthorised news sheet under Section 18, and punishable with 6 months' imprisonment or fine. The question therefore is to see whether the pamphlet in question is a pamphlet of that nature, Learned Counsel argued that the pamphlet was not a pamphlet of that nature because in the first place it did not tend to promote enmity between different classes. The pamphlet purports to deal with the grievances of the poor against the rich, and the argument was that neither the poor nor the rich could be said to be well-defined classes. Reference was made to a ruling reported in Mt. Maniben Liladhar Kara v. Emperor A.I.R. 1933 Bom. 65. In the case a Bench of the Bombay High Court had to deal with a speech in which it was stated that the accused urged upon the labourers to unite in order to fight against the two enemies, the Government and the Capitalists, characterising them as sucking the blood of the labourers. It was held that although the accused had committed an offence under Section 124-A. Penal Code, the accused had not committed an offence under Section 153-A, Penal Code, a section which also deals with the offence of promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes. The learned Judges dilated on the point that Capitalists were not a sufficiently well defined class. Mr. Justice Nanavati stated:
I do not think that the term 'classes' in that section must be restricted to racial or religious classes.... It is not likely that the term 'capitalist' in the speech of the accused was meant to include the poor people holding a small amount of capital. Yet an attempt to restrict the term in some way presents very great difficulties. The learned Advocate-General tried to read it as synonymous with employers. But that term is as indefinite as 'capitalist.'
2. The word 'capitalist' has not been used in the present pamphlet and therefore the particular difficulty which occurred in the Bombay ruling does not arise. The pamphlet however definitely refers on the one side to the Kisan labourers in the district of Muttra who labour in the fields and factories, and on the other hand to the rich persons, the zamindars, the bankers and the petty shop-keepers. I do not think that there is any difficulty in holding that the classes referred to in the pamphlet are sufficiently well defined for the purpose of the section in question. The next point is whether the pamphlet tends to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between those different classes. The argument of learned Counsel was that the pamphlet sets out in the different, objects of the meeting that a memorial should be sent to the Government of India, which the pamphlet alleges resides in London, and that the memorial should advocate various changes which are set out in the following 17 paragraphs. These changes are of a very serious nature, such as the reduction of the rate of interest, reduction of the rents of houses and shops in towns, the heavy taxation of the rich to give facilities to the poor, the enhancement of wages of all labourers in villages and towns, and many other changes of that nature. Now learned Counsel has pointed out that mere words are not penalised as stated by Explanation 4 in Section 16 of Act 23 of 1932 which states:
Words pointing out, without malicious intention and with an honest view to their removal, matters which are producing or have a tendency to produce feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of His Majesty's subjects shall not be deemed to be words of the nature described in Clause (h) of this sub-section.
3. If the accused had merely used words to petition Government for the removal of the grievances which he sets out, then lie will no doubt come within this exception, but what the accused attempted to do was something very different. In his pamphlet dated 1st November he calls on all the distressed Kisans and labourers to assemble to the number of one lac on the 25th November in the City of Muttra. The assembly of one lac of persons in a city like Muttra would produce a state of affairs which would probably lead to a breach of the peace. The convener of this assembly would have no means of controlling the large number of persons whom he desires to assemble. If an assemblage to the extent of one lac takes place only a small number of persons who were near him could hear what he said; the other persons would be entirely without control. They were to assemble in response to this pamphlet which tells them that the rich persons are their oppressors and that "they have been driven by the rich just like a horse who is driven blind-folded by the rider," and that it is only the Kisan who labours in order that the rich men may eat and that for reward the Kisan is allowed to starve. The feelings of the assembly would be inflamed by this pamphlet against the rich persons and bankers and the zamindars and the petty shop-keepers who are mentioned in the pamphlet. The result of such a pamphlet if successful would probably have been that the large crowd of Kisans called together in such circumstances would have started looting the shops in Muttra and a breach of the peace would have occurred which might have required the sacrifice of many lives before order would have been restored. There is no doubt, from reading the pamphlet that the action taken by the accused would certainly promote feelings of enmity or hatred between the different classes of His Majesty's subjects. Under these circumstances it appears to me that it was necessary that the action of the accused should be punished. I do not consider that the sentence of 3 months' rigorous imprisonments at all severe : on the contrary I consider that the sentence is light. This is the sentence which has been passed on Ramsaran Das Johri, the sentence of 6 months' rigorous imprisonment passed by the Magistrate having been reduced by the Sessions Court. In the case of Buddhi the sentence of 6 months' rigorous imprisonment passed by the Magistrate was confirmed by the Sessions Judge on the ground that the accused had admitted that he had been distributing similar leaflets previously and was therefore an old offender as he admitted a previous conviction of 6 months. For these reasons I dismiss the two applications in revision. The accused who are both on bail must surrender to their bail and undergo the remainder of their sentences.
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B. Ram Saran Das Johri vs Emperor


High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

22 March, 1934