1. The petitioner has been convicted under Clause (o) of Section 56, Mysore Police Act, for having uttered abusive words in indecent language in a public street and sentenced to pay a fine of four annas. The case was tried summarily and in view of Section 263, Criminal P. C., the correctness of the conviction has to be mainly determined from the judgment in the case. Sri S.K. Venkataranga lyengar, learned Counsel for the petitioner, contended that according to the report made by the police, the offence alleged is one falling under Clause (r) of Section 56 which requires that the words uttered should not only be abusive and in a street but also intended or likely to cause breach of the peace, that since there is no finding that the words were intended or likely to cause it, the conviction is erroneous. Under Clause (o) mere use of indecent language is punishable. The word ‘indecent’ is not found in Clause (r). That the words attributed to the accused are indecent admits of no doubt.
The accused was asked whether he gave expression to these and if it is proved that he uttered the words the conviction under Clause (o) cannot be said to be wrong whatever may have been alleged by the police. It was next urged that the person with reference to whom the words were uttered has not been examined and that the case is concocted. For the purpose of Clause (o) it is enough that in a public street indecent language is indulged in with or without particular reference to an individual and so the non-examination of any one cannot have the significance which it may otherwise have, provided there is proof of the alleged utterance. The accused in his statement mentions ill-will on the part of the Sub-Inspector who is not a witness but does not impute any motive for the witnesses who have been examined to implicate him unnecessarily. Their version cannot therefore be discarded as false. If this is believed, as has been done by the lower Court, the conviction is justified.
2. The objection strenuously put forward to the conviction is that the judgment is defective inasmuch as the names of witnesses and the particulars of the evidence of each are not set forth in sufficient detail and that it does not bear the signature of the Magistrate. It is true that in a case of this kind the requirements of Section 263 should be satisfied as the judgment is almost the sole record to be looked into and the reasons for the decision are to be gathered from it. As pointed out in many cases the judgment should be such as to enable a higher Court to know from a perusal of the same the nature of the case, substance of the evidence and the reasons for the conclusion arrived at. The accused is under a handicap in challenging the conviction in a summary trial but this should not lead to his being dealt with arbitrarily. The evidence may well have been referred to in some detail and the requirements for constituting the offence noticed in the judgment but I do not think that these are serious flaws.
For the contention that the judgment is invalid as it does not bear the signature of the Magistrate the decision of – Sundaram Chetty J. in – Brahmaiah v. Emperor AIR 1930 Mad 867 (A) was cited. In that case which was tried summarily by a Bench of Magistrates the judgment was signed by two of them and initialled by one. The learned Judge considering the words of Section 265 of the Code “a judgment shall be signed by each member of the Bench…” and the meaning attached to the word signing’ in cases relating to will and risk note, and warrant of arrest, held that the
requirements of public policy necessitate the writing of the full name of the Magistrate who signs the judgment and the mere putting in of the initials is not a sufficient compliance with the mandatory provisions of the section.
But a Division Bench of the same Court held in – T.M.A. Nathan v. Emperor AIR 1930 Mad 187 (B), that a judgment of a Bench of Magistrates signed only by the Chairman of the Bench does not affect the conviction though Section 265 of the Code required that by whomsoever the judgment and record may have been written these shall be signed by all the members present and that the omission as to the signing was an irregularity which occasioned no failure of justice and curable under Section 537 of the Code, since all the members had signed the register in which the sentence was embodied.
In – Ram Sukh v. Emperor AIR 1925 All 299 (C) Mukerji J. expressed that the omission of a Magistrate to sign the judgment is an irregularity covered by Section 537 of the Code and added
It will be deplorable if after a trial the judgment has to be set aside and a retrial has to be ordered simply because the learned Magistrate forgot to sign the judgment and date it. The irregularity does not affect the merits of the case and therefore this point fails.
As to what is essential for consideration about a judgment in a criminal case, Bose J. in the course of the judgment of the Supreme Court – Surendra Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh states
Small irregularities in the matter of pronouncement or the mode of delivery do not matter but the substance of the thing must be there; that can neither be blurred or left to inference and conjecture nor can it be vague. All the rest-the manner in which it is to be recorded. the way in which it is to be authenticated, the signing and the sealing, all the rules designed to secure certainty about its content and matter can be cured-If a judgment happens not to be signed and is inadvertently acted on and executed the proceedings consequent on it would be valid….
3. The omission of the Magistrate to put his signature by writing his name instead of the initials is in the circumstances a mere irregulaiity not affecting the legality of the conviction. It is desirable that the Magistrate should avoid this in future and not give room for criticism on the score of the provisions of the Code not being duly complied with.
4. There are no good grounds for interference The petition is hence dismissed.