Balakrishna Aiyar, J. -
(1.) The workmen employed in the mills in Koilpatti appear to be split into warring factions that have scant regard to law or the public peace. The Blackshirts also seem to have been adding in their own way to the difficulties of local officials. On 31-12-1950 the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Sankarankoil, wrote to the Assistant Collector, Tuticorin, (he is the Executive Sub Divisional Magistrate of the area) giving a resume of the situation from 1948. He remarked :
"Now, both in the labour front and in the political front trouble is brewing ...... The situation is full of explosive possibilities and breach of the peace is inherent in it." After this appraisal of the situation he ended his letter in the following manner: "Under the circumstances I consider it necessary to regulate the conduct of meetings and processions by enforcement of Section 30, Police Act. I, therefore, propose to apply Section 30, Police Act, within the limits of Koilpatti town and Koilpatti Panchayat Board, for one year from 10-11951 and request your concurrence."
(2.) Sometime in February --the date does not appear in the document before me - the Assistant Collector, Tuticorin, replied to the Assistant Superintendent as follows:
"Your suggestion to enforce Section 30, Police Act, 5 of 1361, for one year within, the limits of Koilpatti town is accepted." On 5-3-1951 the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Sankarankoil, issued an order in which he stated that rival groups exist among the labourers in Koilpatti, that subsequent to 1949 various instances involving a breach of the peace had occurred, that serious disputes still exist and that in the judgment of the Executive First Class Magistrate, Tuticotin, meetings, assemblies; processions and the like within the limits of Koilpatti town and Panchayat Board and in villages within a radius of three miles from Koilpatti Panchayat Board area are likely to cause serious breaches of the peace if not controlled by the police. He then recorded his view :
"I am satisfied that it is intended by the office bearers, members, adherents and sympathisers of the above said groups and members of the public in general, in Koilpatti town and Panchayat Board, to convene or collect assemblies and organise and conduct processions and the like in public places, streets, roads and thoroughfares within the limits of Koilpatti town and Panchayat Board." After that he passed this order :
"The other office bearers, members, adherents and sympathisers of the groups and organisation named, as well as those of other groups and associations and the members of the public in general who intend to convene and collect assemblies, organise and conduct pro-cessions and the like, to apply for a licence, to the Assistant Superintendent of Police, San-karankoil, for such meetings, assemblies and processions and the like within the above-said limits, under Section 30, Police Act, 5 of 1861, for a period of one year with effect from 15-3-1951. Any disobedience of orders will render persons liable for punishment under Section 188, I. P. C. and other provisions of the law." This order was addressed to twenty-one named individuals who were said to belong to the I. N. T. U. C. group employed in the Loyal Mills, to ten individuals said to belong to S. R. V. group employed in the same Mills; to nine individuals said to belong to other Labour groups; to nine individuals who were said to belong to the Blackshirts party and to eleven individuals, said to belong to the Socialist party. In other words, it was a special order so far as the individuals specified in the order are concerned and a general order as regards the rest of the public.
(3.) At about 7-30 p. m. on 19-3-1951 two persons named Sivasamy and Ponniah, who are said to be members of the Socialist Party, convened a meeting in Gandhi Maidan, Koilpatti, without applying for and obtaining a licence from the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Sankarankoil, to hold their meeting. Ponniah addressed the gathering introducing Sivaswami to the audience and Sivasami addressed them. The Circle Inspector of Police, Koilpatti, went to the meeting and informed both the accused of the ban that had been imposed on the meeting and asked them not to proceed with it. Sivasami took the line that the prohibitory order was illegal and tried to go on with the meeting. Thereupon the Inspector arrested both Sivasami and Ponniah & subsequently laid a charge-sheet against them under Section 32, Police Act. The Sub-Magistrate, Koilpatti, acquitted both the accused holding:
"In the result, I find firstly that the order Ex. P, 2 is itself 'ultra vires' the Assistant Superintendent & hence not enforceable & secondly that even if it be assumed that the order is legal, the manner of its execution was :imporpep and that the order does not apply to a place-like the Gandhi Maidan which is not a thoroughfare. Ir" either case it follows that the accused are -not guilty of the offence with which they stand charged, and I therefore acquit them under Section 245(1) Cr. P. C." Against this order of acquittal the State has preferred an appeal. Section 30, Police Act (5 of 1861) enacts:
"1. The District superintendent or Assistant District Superintendent of Police may, as occasion requires, direct the conduct of all assemblies and processions on the public roads, or in the public streets or thoroughfares, & prescribe the routes by which, and the times at which such Processions may pass. 2". He may also, on being satisfied that it is intended by any person or class of persons to convene or collect an assembly ; in any such road, street or thoroughfare or to form a procession which would, in the judgment of the Magistrate of the district, or of the sub division of a district, if uncontrolled, be likely to cause a breach of the peace, require by general or special notice that the persons convening or collecting such assembly or directing or promoting such procession shall apply for a licence. 3. On such application being made, he may issue a licence specifying the names of-the licensees and defining the conditions on which alone such assembly or such procession is to be permitted to take place & otherwise giving effect to this section; provided that no fee shall be charged on the application for, or grant of, any such licence. 4. He may also regulate the extent to which music may be used in the streets on the occasion of festivals and ceremonies.";