Posted On by &filed under Calcutta High Court, High Court.

Calcutta High Court
Satindra Nath Sen Gupta vs Emperor on 10 February, 1928
Equivalent citations: AIR 1928 Cal 438


1. This is a rule granted to the petitioner Satindra Nath Sen Gupta on certain grounds mentioned in the petition. Proceedings were taken under Section 107, Criminal P.C., against the petitioner on 18th March last by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Barisal and after hearing the evidence the Sub-Divisional Magistrate directed him to execute a bond of Rs. 5,000 with two sureties of Rs. 2,500 each to keep the peace for one year. On appeal to the learned Sessions Judge the order requiring security was upheld but the amount of the bond was reduced to Rs. 500, together with two sureties of Rs. 250 each.

2. The facts found by the learned Sessions Judge in concurrence with the Sub-Divisional Magistrate are that the petitioner is the leader of the Satyagraha movement in the district of Bakerganj, the object of which is to enforce the right of the Hindus to lead processions with music before mosques on public highways at all times. The assertion of such a right, to use the words of the learned Judge, has excited the Mahomedans and they decline to let any procession with music pass in front of their mosques. On 16th March 1927 the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, in view of the state of feelings then existing between the Hindus and the Mahomedans, issued an order under Section 144, Criminal P.C. prohibiting any such procession upon the ensuing Doljatra day which would be held either on 18th or 19th March. On the morning of 17th March a Hindu procession tried to pass Lakhutia which we are told is a place within the Barisal sub-division, but owing to the objection of certain Mahomedans the procession withdrew. On the same evening the Superintendent of Police sent for the petitioner and asked him what his attitude was with regard to the prohibitory order made by the Magistrate under Section 144. The petitioner stated in his presence and that of the District Magistrate who came in during the meeting, to use the words of the learned Judge, that he would lead processions with music before mosques highways and would not desist either for the opposition of the Mahomedans nor for any orders of the police or the Magistrate. The learned Judge observes:

As he is a leader of a large number of young men he was in the circumstances arrested on 18th March and the present proceedings were instituted against him.

3. The question for our decision is whether in the circumstances such an order-requiring the petitioner to execute a bond should be sustained. A great volume of evidence was laid before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate and it was accepted by him as well as by the learned Sessions Judge. He found this, to quote the words from the judgment of the learned Magistrate:

Put in a nutshell, the case for the Grown is that Satindra Nath Sen had during a period of extremely strained feeling between the two communities on religious matters enunciated the principle that it was the Hindus’ inherent right to pass with music before all mosque, at all times of the day and night. In pursuance of this principle he had collected men and money and had organized a movement commonly known as the Satyagraha movement. His followers were numerous and loyal to him. He had been responsible for processions at Meghia and Barisal which had flouted orders lawfully promulgated and he had asserted that he would resort to violence if necessary. During the Doljatra festival in spite of orders under Section 144, Criminal P.C., he told the District Magistrate that if he organized a procession it would be on the lines of the others for which he had been responsible. Further he was prepared to organize these processions before any mosque in the district where Mahomedans opposed it. The prosecution has succeeded in proving these facts and alleges that Satindra Nath Sen is in a position to carry out his threats. In the present condition of the district, action as described above is likely to lead to dashes between the two communities and disturbances of the public tranquility are probable.

4. These findings which have been accepted by the learned Judge are so clear that prima facie we should find the. greatest difficulty in interfering with the order for security. It has, however, been strenuously contended by Mr. Taluqdar who has appeared in. support of the rule that the evidence on which these findings have been arrived at is for the most part inadmissible in law. His first contention has been that whatever academic ideas any person may entertain he is not liable to be dealt with under Section 107, Criminal P.C. unless overt acts are committed as the result of the expression of these ideas. This seems to us to be misconstuing the provisions of Section 107, Criminal P.C. This section says:

Whenever a Magistrate is informed that any person is likely to commit a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquility or to do any wrongful act that may probably occasion a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquility the Magistrate may proceed.

5. Now it is plainly true to say that if a person himself is likely to commit a breach of the peace he may be dealt with under the section. But it is also true to say that if for any wrongful act on his part other persons may do things which would probably occasion a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquility he would equally become amendable to the provisions of the section.

6. The second argument which has been addressed to us is that the conversation between the petitioner and Mr. Blandy, the District Magistrate, and the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Taylor, is inadmissible in evidence because it was made under an implied seal of secrecy. We fail to appreciate this argument. The position was, as we understood it, that the Superintendent of Police sent for this gentleman to enquire what attitude he proposed to take in regard to the suggested procession on the Doljatra day. Mr. Blandy happened to come in there and took part in the conversation. To say that that constitutes a conversation held under an implied seal of secrecy seems to us to import a meaning which it cannot possibly bear. The petitioner frankly admitted that he did not propose to hold his hand on the contrary he would take the procession with music past a mosque as he pleased irrespective of any order already made or any order that might be made. Plainly that evidence is admissible to show what his intention was. Mr. Taluqdar has then referred to certain findings of the learned Sessions Judge in regard to the Satyagraha movement at Patuakhali, the Saraswati Puja incident in 1926 and the B.M. College incident of the 13th February. In the last case the petitioner was put on his trial but was acquitted. It is argued that a reference to these particular incidents is irrelevant to the present enquiry. No doubt the fact of the petitioner having been acquitted on 13th February made that matter one upon which little reliance can be placed. But the rest of the evidence is clearly admissible under Section 11, Evidence Act, to show the particular line of action the petitioner would probably take.

7. It is then contended that the petitioner cannot be held responsible for the Lukutia incident of 19th March as he had by that time been arrested. Mr. Taluqdar has dealt at some length with the evidence which shows that the Hindu processionists acted with self-restraint in waiting till after, prayer time to pass by the mosque. He has referred in particular to the evidence of Mr. Higgins P.W. 12, who says that the procession approached at about 5-10 p.m., that he met and stopped them 75 yards from the mosque and spoke to certain gentlemen. He told them that the Mussalmans were saying their prayers and told them not to pass by the mosque. They consulted amongst themselves and at 10 minutes to 6 p. m. they insisted on passing by the mosque with music. The Mussalmans were annoyed and excited. He arrested the processionists under Section 296, I.P.C. and put his force between the Hindus and Mussalmans as both sides were excited and there was possibility of a breach of the peace. He says further that the Hindu processionists behaved well and that they were not violent, insolent or insulting. Plainly, therefore, a breach of the peace was averted chiefly by the presence of the police force because, although the Hindu processionists were neither violent nor insulting, their action in taking the procession by the mosque where prayers were still in progress was provocative and likely to annoy the Mussalmans. The procession seems to have been directly inspired by the petitioner, as it was led by men whom the Magistrate has found to have been his close associates. We think, therefore, on a full consideration of the facts that when the petitioner took the line of action which ho did the Magistrate had no option but to make the order he passed and in view of the position the petitioner occupies we can not say that the security required from him is excessive. The rule is, accordingly, discharged.

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