IN RE: KUNDA PAPANNA AND ORS. Vs. STATE
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
In Re: Kunda Papanna And Ors.
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Panchapakesa Aiyar, J. -
(1.) THESE are thirteen cases referred by the District Magistrate (Judicial), Nandyal, for setting aside the orders of the Stationary Sub -Magistrate, Jammalmadugu, in C. C. Nos. 120 to 132 of 1952, releasing 13 persons convicted under Section 4A of Act 10 of 1937, the Prohibition Act, under Section 562(1), Cr. P. C. on their entering into bonds for Rs. 200 each to appear and receive sentence whenever called upon to do so and for inflicting substantial punishment on them. The learned Stationary Sub -Magistrate considered that, as these accused persons belonged to primitive backward tribes, like Dommara, Salai, Thogata etc., and as these were their first offences they should be released under Section 562(1), Cr. P. C. instead of awarding substantive sentences of imprisonment or fine. He also relied on the fact that two doctors differed regarding the question of these accused persons being really intoxicated by taking any illicit liquor.
(2.) THE learned District Magistrate rightly attacks these orders on three grounds. Firstly, he says that any difference between doctors' opinions regarding the factum of the offence would only be a matter for acquitting the accused, if the Court entertained any reasonable doubt regarding their guilt, and would not be a reason for applying Section 562(1), Cr. P. C. I agree. Indeed, small or lenient sentences in cases of doubt are highly objectionable, because they might allow illegal or unsustainable sentences to stand by making the party fear that if he appeals he might get a more severe sentence. Every Court must award the sentence suited to the offence and the offender, and not make the sentence smaller because of any doubt regarding the commission of the offence itself. Of course, the case is different where there is a doubt whether a graver offence or a smaller offence has been committed.
(3.) THE second reason given by the learned District Magistrate is that Section 562(1), Cr. P. C. should not be applied to cases like these. I agree that this section should not be applied to cases like these normally. To apply Section 562(1), Cr. P. C. to all first offences of drunkenness is neither the intention of the law, nor will it be consistent with sense or common sense. Nor can all first offenders claim action under Section 562. Thus, a man committing murder for the first time cannot invoke the aid of Section 562(1), Cr. P. C., nor can, normally, offences under Prohibition Act be properly dealt with under Section 562(1), Cr. P. C. There will, of course, be exceptional cases, as, for instance, when a father or a mother makes a son or daughter, just past 14 or even 18, drunk. But in all such cases, the antecedents of the offenders and the circumstances of the offence must be considered individually, and not in a kind of omnibus fashion, as here.
The third reason given by the District Magistrate is that backward classes should not be treated on a more lenient footing than forward classes regarding such offences. I agree. The Prohibition Act is largely intended to help the backward classes to save themselves from the drink evil, and to let off members of the backward classes committing such offences on the ground of backwardness, giving them the same preference as under the Constitution for appointments etc, will not be proper.;
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