Decided on December 10,1953



Panchapakesa ayyar, J. - (1.) The three petitioners in this case were the three accused in B. C. No. 660 of 1952 on the file of the First Class Bench Court of Erode. They have been convicted under Section 323, I. P. C. The first two petitioners have been sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 20 each, and the third petitioner to pay a fine of Rs. 40.
(2.) The case against them was that the third petitioner, Ramaswami Goundan, beat the complainant, Palaniswami Goundan, with a stick on his refusing to pay a tax for running the 'Pavoo' in the usual 'pavidi'. The beating was said to have been at the instigation of the second petitioner. There was nothing alleged against the first petitioner regarding the beating. He was simply said to have removed the crowbar to which the 'pavoo' rope was tied, as the tax was not paid. That, of course, has nothing to do with the beating.
(3.) The learned counsel for the petitioners urged two main contentions. The first was that the convictions and sentences were all illegal as the judgment was delivered by two members of the old Bench court, who continued to be members of the reconstituted Bench court. It was admitted that these two members had heard the evidence and arguments in full, and that they alone among the members of the reconstituted Bench had heard the case. It was, however, urged that two more members of the old Bench court had heard the evidence along with these two, and that the convictions and sentences were illegal, as those two persons had not joined in the judgment. Reliance was placed on the ruling in -- 'In re DamarJa Krishnarao', (1) (A). That was a ruling of my own, and the facts there were quite different from the facts here. There, three members of the Bench Court heard the case, and all continued to be members, but the judgment was written only by two of the members, who, then and there, pronounced the Judgment, and sent it for approval of the third member, who dissented from their opinion. Here, however, the two members, who had heard the case along with these two who delivered the judgment, had ceased to be members of the Bench Court by the time the judgment was pronounced, unlike the third member in the case relied on. In cases like the present one, it will be obviously against reason to hold that all cases which have been completely heard by the old Bench Court, and regarding which judgments only have to be delivered should be reheard by the newly constituted Bench Court. It will be, of course, illegal for the members who have ceased to be members of the Bench Court to join in writing or pronouncing the judgment after they have ceased to be members. There is no rule, so far as I am aware, that two members of a Bench Court cannot deliver the judgment in a case heard by them. There is no minimum number of Bench Court Magistrates who have to Join in a Judgment. All those who heard the case and who still continue to be members must Join. But if some of the members who have heard the case die, or are removed for misconduct, or resign, or are replaced by others, I do not think that there is anything irregular in the remaining members who heard the case and who continue to be members of the Bench, delivering the judgment. So, I reject this contention and hold that the proceedings were all legal.;

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