RAJANI KANTA MAITY Vs. STATE
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
Rajani Kanta Maity
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(1.) The Petitioner and four others were convicted by a Magistrate, second class, Contain, on a charge under Section 424 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 50, in default to rigorous imprisonment for one month. On appeal the order of conviction of the Petitioner was maintained and the order of conviction of the others was set aside. The Petitioner has now moved against his order of conviction and sentence.
The prosecution case against the Petitioner was that the complainant Panchanan Das was the Bhog Chasi under the co-accused Giridhari Shaw and his mistress Sm. Sindhubala Debi (both since acquitted) in respect of plots Nos. 953, 1011, 1012, 407 and 187 comprising of about 5 bighas of land. The complainant Panchanan had been cultivating this land for about 8 months and lad even grown paddy on the land in the year 1364 B.S. He was recorded as a Bhag Chasi in respect of this land in the recent settlement operations. On the prayer of Giridhari Shaw and Sindhubala to the Bhag Chas Board paddy of those plots was allowed to be stacked in the khamar of the Petitioner Rajani Kanta Maiti. Giridhari, Sindhubala and Rajani were ail informed by the complainant Panchanan that the paddy was to be thrashed on the 7th Chaitra next. On this date paddy was thrashed in the presence of all these persons but there was a golmal as to the share of the paddy which the complainant was to get. Giridhari Shaw and Sindhubala were unwilling to give paddy to the complainant in the proportion of 60 and 40. Then the complainant called the members of the Union Board and several others. In the meantime, the Petitioner and the other co-accused since acquitted removed the paddy from the khamar to the moral (granary) of the Petitioner Rajani and kept it concealed there. The Petitioner and the other co-accused did not want to give the complainant his due share although the complainant claimed that he had supplied plough, manure, etc., to grow paddy.
(2.) The complainant's case is that the Petitioner had dishonestly kept the paddy concealed in the moral and as such he had committed an offence under Section 424 of the Indian Penal Code. The defence of the" Petitioner is that the complainant had himself thrashed the paddy and removed it in collusion with the other Bhag Chasis. The learned Judge of the Court of Appeal below maintained the conviction of the Petitioner on the ground mainly that he had inter alia pleaded alibi as his defence but by putting Ext. D to show that he had duly informed the Bhagchas Officer by this petition that during his absence the complainant Panchanan along with other Bhag Chasis had forcibly thrashed out and taken away the paddy in question from Rajani Maiti in spite of the protests of the members of his family. This suggestion that he was absent at the time of the occurrence, according to the court of appeal below showed mala fides on the part of the Petitioner and as such the finding against him was that he had dishonestly and fraudulently removed the paddy.
(3.) In support of the Rule Mr. Das has relied upon Section 16 of the West Bengal Land Reforms Act and has argued that all questions relating to the share of the produce of the Bhag Chasis were to be decided by a Bhag Chasis Court alone. He has also argued that whatever may be the defence of the Petitioner a criminal court was not justified in convicting the Petitioner on the facts alleged which even if believed did not amount to dishonest or fraudulent concealing or removal of any property. The complainant's case as found by the learned Judge of the court of appeal below was that there was a dispute between the complainant and the Petitioners and the other accused persons over the share of the Paddy and when the complainant refused to take 50 per cent, of the paddy as his share, all the accused persons removed the thrashed paddy from the morai of the Petitioner. The learned Judge of the court of appeal below found that this removal of the paddy from the Khamar of the Petitioner Rajani to his morai by the accused persons was neither dishonest nor fraudulent and the accused persons did not have the intention to practice fraud or deception on the complainant. The learned Judge, however, made a distinction in the case of the Petitioner on account of his having filed Ext. D to set up the plea of alibi. In acquitting the co-accused the learned Judge of the Court of appeal below held that they should not be made liable for the statement made by Rajani Maiti.;
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