HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
In Re: Selvin
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K.N.Mudaliyar, J. -
(1.) THE Petitioner was convicted for offences under Sections 457 and 380 , I.P.C. on a plea of guilt made by him on 28th January 1969. Subsequently, the case was adjourned to 14th February 1969 for the Probation Officer's report. The judgment of the learned Sub Magistrate was delivered on 14th February 1969.
(2.) IT is very clear from the judgment of the appellate Court that on the date of the judgment, viz 14th February 1969, the Petitioner filed a petition before the learned Sub Magistrate, Tiruchendur, that the plea of 'guilty' made by him was not a voluntary one and that he was induced deceitfully by the police to plead 'guilty' and the plea of 'guilty' may be cancelled; but the petition was dismissed by the sub Magistrate. Section 251 -A Sub -section (5) reads as follows:
If the accused pleads guilty, the magistrate shall record the plea and may, in his discretion, convict him thereon.
(3.) IT is patently clear from the wording of the section that every plea of guilt made by the accused does not necessarily entail conviction. There is judicial discretion vested in the Magistrate to convict him on the strength of the plea of guilt made by the accused or not. In this case, even prior to the delivery of the judgment by the Sub Magistrate, the accused filed a petition containing allegations about the coercion exercised on the Petitioner by the police and that his plea of 'guilty' was certainly not a voluntary one. The learned Sub Magistrate ought to have exercised his judicial discretion on a sound basis and immediately desisted from pronouncing a judgment convicting the Petitioner on the plea of 'guilt' made by him. In my view, In view of the circumstances alleged by him in his petition on 14th February 1969, the learned Sub Magistrate ought to have straightaway treated his plea of guilt as equivalent to his not pleading 'guilty' and he ought to have acceded to the prayer of the Petitioner claiming to be tried. He ought to have proceeded with the examination of the witnesses.;
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