HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
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(1.) KALI Ram petnr. was convicted by a Mag. Ambala under Section 21, Punjab Public Safety Act, 1947, and sentenced to a fine of Rs. 200 or in default two months' simple imprisonment. His appeal was dismissed by the Addl. Ses. J.
(2.) THE prosecution case was that in June 1947 at a time when Chaudhari Raghbir Singh (P. W. 6), who was then a Naib Tehsildar, but was under consideration for appointment as an E. A. C. the anonymous letter Ex. P. A. purporting to be from "a responsible Govt. officer" was sent to the D. C. Ambala. This letter contains several extremely scandalous allegations regarding Chaudhri Raghbir Singh and his family and it is alleged to have been sent by Kali Ram petnr. who comes from the same village and belongs to the same sub-caste as Chaudhri Raghbir Singh, and is apparently an enemy of his. The evidence that the letter in question is in the handwriting of Kali Ram appears to be overwhelming, but he has denied having sent it. I agree with the Cts. below, however, in holding that the authorship of the letter is proved beyond reasonable doubt, and there is also no doubt that the allegations contained in the letter are highly defamatory.  The point was raised in the lower appellate Ct. that the petnr. could not be convicted under the Punjab Public Safety Act of 1947 in February 1950 after the Act in question has been repealed and superseded by the East Punjab Public Safety Act of 1949, in which no corresponding offence has been made punishable. There is however, no force is this argument; and it is dear that unless the repealing Act contains express provisions on the point a person can be convicted of an offence against the repealed Act committed while that Act was in force. It does, however, seem to me that there is some doubt whether the facts justify the conviction of the petnr. under Section 21 of Act of 1947. The Punjab Public Safety Act was obviously brought into force in 1947 to deal with more or less a state of emergency. It contained provisions for preventive detention, the declaration of places as dangerously disturbed areas, and short cuts in the procedure for criminal trials considered suitable and necessary to deal with such an emergency. Section 21 of the Act is summarised in the margin as "dissemination of rumours, etc. " and it reads:
21. Whoever- (a) makes any speech, or (b) by words whether spoken or written or by signs of by visible or audible representations or otherwise publishes any statement, rumour or report, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine or with both if such speech, statement, rumour or report
(i) causes or is likely to cause fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public: (ii) defames or is likely to defame Government or any servant of the Crown:
(iii) furthers or is likely to further any activity prejudicial to the public safety or maintenance of public order.
4. Prima facie, the case is one which could have been suitably dealt with under Section 500, I. P. C. the section dealing with defamation, since it is clearly only a case of slanderous remarks being maliciously made by an enemy to the superior officer of the person defamed with the object of prejudicing the latter's chances of promotion, and considering the general tenor and object of the Punjab Public Safety Act, 1947, as a whole, and particularly Section 21, I find it difficult to see why this section was invoked at all. There is no doubt the letter defamed or was likely to defame Chaudhri Raghbir Singh, a servant of the Grown, but whether the word "publishes" in Clause (b) can in this context include the mere sending of anonymous letter to the D. C. appears to me extremely doubtful. In Section 499, P. C. which exhaustively sets out the ingredients of the offence of defamation the word "publish" is not defined, nor is it defined elsewhere in the Code. There is, however, no doubt that for the purpose of the offence of defamation under the Code, "publishing" means making known the defamatory matter after it has been written to some person other than the person of whom it is written, but I do not think that this meaning can be attached to the word in its context in Section 21, Punjab Public Safety Act, in which clearly the word is intended to mean "gives publicity to" the statement, rumour or report in question, and I doubt whether anybody could even be convicted of an offence under Section 21 of this Act for merely writing a letter to another person. I thus consider that the application of Section 21 of the Act to the facts of the present case is a gross misuse of the section, which was quite inapplicable, and never intended to deal with a case of this kind I accordingly hold that the petnr. was wrongly convicted of this offence and accept the revision petn and acquit him. The fine, if paid, is to be refunded. ;
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