01 April 1964
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (crl.) 202 of 1962






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/04/1964


CITATION:  1964 AIR 1701            1964 SCR  (7) 606

ACT: Post  Offices Act--Wilfully detaining  postal  articles--The meaning  of the expression "wilful"-Mere negligence  Or  in- advertance  not enough-Detention must be for a purpose  Post offices Act, 1898 (VI of 1898) s. 53.

HEADNOTE: The appellant was a registration clerk in a post office.  He was prosecuted on the allegation that he committed theft  of a half of a ten rupee note contained in a registered  letter along  with a petition for exchanging it, for  altering  the petition  and for detaining the registered letter for a  day with  the  purpose of committing the theft  and  making  the alteration.   He  was  charged  under  Ss.  52,  53  and  54 respectively  of the Post Offices Act, 1898.   The  Sessions Judges  who  tried  the case found him  not  guilty  of  the offence  under  s.  52 but guilty under Ss. 53  and  55.  On appeal  to the High Court he was found not to be  guilty  of the  offence  under s. 55; the conviction under  s.  53  was maintained.  Thereupon he appealed to this Court. It was contended by the appellant before this Court that as- suming  that he detained the envelope he cannot be  said  to have detained it "wilfully", unless it is shown that he  had some  purpose in doing it and since the purpose  alleged  by the prosecution has not been proved the appellant cannot  be said to have committed the offence under s. 53. Held:     per  K.  Subba  Rao and K. C. Das  Gupta,  JJ.   A review  of  the  case law brings  out  clearly  the  guiding principle  that  the  meaning to be attached  to  the  words "wilful’  or  ’,wilfully" has to be ascertained on  a  close examination  of the scheme and nature of the legislation  in which  the  words appear and the context in which  they  are used. Re  Young and Harston, 31 Ch.  D. 174 Wheeler v. New  Merton Board Mills, [1933] (2) K.B. 669 United States of America v. Harry   Murdock,  78  Law,  Ed.  689,  Hudson  v.   Official Liquidator,   A.I.R.  1929  All.  826,  In  re  T.   M.   K. Govindarajulu  Chetty, 1951 2 S.T.C. 27 and In  re  Jayarama Chettiar, I.L.R. 1949, Mad. 121 referred to. (ii) A  comparison of the various sections of the Act  shows that the legislature took a more serious view of the offence



of  wilful  detention  of postal articles than  any  of  the offences   in  Ch.  X  and  has,  therefore,  prescribed   a comparatively  heavy punishment.  Hence it is reasonable  to think  that in s. 53 when the word "wilfully" was  used  the legislature  also  intended  that  the  detention  would  be punishable only if made for some purpose. (iii)     The  prosecution alleged in the present case  that the purpose was theft of the note but the existence of  that purpose  has  not  been established and  detention  was  not deliberate  and hence the appellant cannot be said  to  have detained the article wilfully. Per Raghubar Dayal, J. (dissenting)- The legislature where it intended to make the purpose behind an act an ingredient expressly stated so, as for example  in s.  52.  If the word "wilful" or "wilfully" is used  in  the Act as 607 a synonym for an act done deliberately and for some purpose, the  expression wilful could have been used in the place  of "for any purpose whatsoever".  This the legislature did  not do though it used that in s. 53. (ii) The  mere  act  of detaining a postal  article  by  any person  other than a postal officer is made punishable  with only  fine under s, 67 and a higher punishment  is  provided under  s. 53 because the culprit is an officer of  the  post office who has opportunities to detain the, postal  articles and who acts contrary to his duties. (iii)   The   expression   "wilfully"   in   s.   53   means "intentionally  and  deliberately" and not  "accidently"  or "negligently". (iv) From the facts of the case it is proved that the appel- lant  deliberately  detained  the  registered  letter.   His intention   and  deliberation  were  directed  towards   the detaining of the registered letter and to the non-forwarding of  it  in  due  course  with  the  mail  that  day.   Every intentional  and relevant act must be with some  purpose  or object.   He, therefore obtained the letter wilfully and  is guilty of the offence under s. 53. Taylor  v.  Vergette (861) 30 L.J. Ex. 400, Reg.  v.  Senior (1899) 1 Q.B 283, Tamboli v. Great India Peninsular  Railway Company, L.R. 55 I.A. 67, Wheeler v. New Merton Board  Mills Ltd.  [1933]  2  K.B. 669, Hudson  v.  Official  Liquidator, A.I.R.,  1929  All. 826 and T. N. K.  Govindarajulu  Chetty, 1951 S.T.C. Vol. 2, 26, referred to.

JUDGMENT: CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal No. 202  of 1962.   Appeal by special leave from the Judgment and  Order dated  August 1, 1962, of the Mysore High Court in  Criminal Appeal No. 213 of 1961. W.   S. Barlingay and A. G. Ratnaparkhi, for the appellant. R.   Gopalakrishnan  and  B. R. G. K. Achar,  for  the  res- pondent. April 1, 1964.  The Judgment of SUBBA RAO and DAS GUPTA  JJ. was  delivered by DAs GUPTA J. RAGHUBAR DAYAL J delivered  a dissenting opinion. DAS GUPTA, J.-The appellant, who was a registration clerk in the Haveri Post Office in the Mysore State, was tried by the Sessions  Judge, Dharwar, on charges under s. 52, s. 53  and s.  55 of the Indian Post Office Act.  The prosecution  case is  that  on  the  18th October  1955  a  registered  letter containin  half portion of a ten-rupee note and petition  on behalf  of one Muppayyagonda asking for the said note to  be



exchanged  for a fresh note was received at the Haveri  Post Office  at 4.30 p.m. from the Branch Post Office at  Kabbur. The appellant who was a, registration clerk at Haveri at the time, however, detained the registered envelope instead of 608 despatching  it  that very day as he should have  done.   He despatched  it  the next day.  It was the  prosecution  case that the appellant removed the half portion of the ten-rupee currency  note from inside the envelope and to cover up  his misconduct made alterations in the petition contained in the envelope  and in the list of registered articles.  All  this was discovered, it is said, when the Reserve Bank of  India, to  which this envelope was addressed made enquiries in  the matter  on finding that no note had been enclosed  with  the petition.   The  appellant admitted that  the  envelope  was received  at the Haveri Post Office on October 18, 1955  and also,  that he did not despatch it on that date.   His  case was that it was received at about 5.30 p.m. on the 18th  and so  it  was too late for despatch on that date but  that  he despatched it duly on the 19th,   On a consideration of the evidence the Sessions Judge held that  the charge under s. 52 of the Indian Post  Office  Act for  the  theft  of  currency note  and  for  secreting  the registered  articles had not been established and  acquitted him  of that charge.  He, however, found it proved that  the appellant  bad fraudulently altered the lists of  registered articles and thereby committed an offence under s. 55 of the Indian Post Office Act.  He also held that the appellant had wilfully detained the envelope and thus committed an offence under  s. 53 of the Indian Post Office Act.  He  accordingly convicted  the appellant of the charges under Ss. 53 and  55 of  the Indian Post Office Act and sentenced him to  undergo two months’ imprisonment on each charge.  The sentences were directed to run concurrently. On  appeal.  the  High Court of Mysore  set  aside  the  ap- pellant’s  conviction under s. 55 of the Indian Post  Office Act  but  maintained his conviction under s.  53,  being  of opinion  that while the wilful detention of the envelope  by the  appellant had been proved, the alleged  alterations  by him  in  the  list  of  registered  articles  had  not  been established.  Against the High Court’s decision the  present appeal  has  been  preferred by  the  appellant,  Ramchandra Narasimha Kulkarni. In  support of the appeal it is contended by  Dr.  Barlingey that  as  the  allegations  of  theft  of  the  note  or  of alterations  in  the  list of  registered  articles  by  the appellant  have not been established, the appellant must  be held  not to have committed any offence under s. 53  of  the Indian Post Office Act.  It is argued that assuming that the envelope was detained by the appellant as alleged, he cannot be  said to have detained it ‘wilfully" unless it  is  shown that  he  bad some purpose in doing it.   But,  the  purpose alleged  by  the prosecution was that he  wanted  to  commit theft  of the currency note, and to cover this up,  to  make alterations  in  the  list  of  registered  articles,  these purposes have not been established.  So, argues the  learned Counsel, the detention of the envelope should be held 609 to  have  been  made without any purpose  but  only  through inadvertence   or   mere  carelessness.   That   would   not constitute,  according  to the learned  Counsel,  a,  wilful detention. The  words  "wilful" and "wilfully" are frequently  used  in many statutes and have come up for judicial consideration in the  courts of this country as also elsewhere.  The  meaning



given  to these words have differed in  different  contexts. Sometimes, any intentional act has been held to be a  wilful act.  (Re  Young and Harston)(1).  Often, it has  been  said that  the word wilful suggests bad conduct or action  though it  does  not  necessarily connote blame.  (Wheeler  v.  New Merton  Board Mills)(2)  Not infrequently the word  has been used  to mean that the act had been done with a bad  purpose or without justifiable excuse or stubbornly, obstinately  or perversely. (United States of America v. Harry Murdock)(3). Some  decisions  stress the requirement of  deliberation  or reckless  disregard of the fact whether the act was  or  was not  in  breach  of duty in deciding  whether  it  has  been wilful. (Hudson v. Official Liquidator(4); and In re  T.N.K. Govindarajulu Chetty)(5).  In the last mentioned case, viz., In  re T.N.K. Govindarajulu Chetty’s case, the  Madras  High Court  held that a submission of a false return cannot be  a wilful  submission unless the dealer has  deliberately  made the  return  with  the knowledge that  he  was  excluding  a taxable item, though in almost similar circumstances another Bench of the same High Court took a different view and  held that even though when an assessee, under the impression that a  particular  item is not taxable and, therefore,  need  be excluded  in the return, omits lo make a mention, of  it  in the return which he furnished with the full knowledge of his having committed the same, he has "wilfully" omitted it. (In re Jayarama Chettiar) (6). A  review of these various decisions brings out clearly  the guiding  principle  that the meaning to be attached  to  the words  "  wilful" or "wilfully" has to be ascertained  on  a close   examination  of  the  scheme  and  nature   of   the legislation  in  which the words appear and the  context  in which they are used. Turning  now,  for this purpose, to the Indian  Post  Office Act,  we notice that s.53 which makes punishable the  wilful detention or delay of a postal article by an officer of  the post  office  in one of the several  sections  which  create offences under this Act.  There are 21 such sections,  being sections 49 (1)31 Ch.  D. 174. (2) 1933(2) K.B. 669. (3)78 Law E. 389. (4) A.I.R. 1929 All. 826. (5)1951 2 S.T.C. 27. (6) I.L.R. 1949 Madras, 121. L/P(D)ISCI-20 610 to  56 and 58 to 70, all in Chapter X of the Act.   Some  of these  offences, viz., those under Ss. 49, 58, 59,  63,  64, 65,  66 and 67 are punishable only with fine.  The  offences under Ss. 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 60, 61, 62, 68 and  69 are made punishable also with imprisonment.  Of these again, the  offences under s. 53, are punishable with  imprisonment which, may extend to seven years; offences under Ss. 53, 54, 55,  56, 60, and 68 are punishable with  imprisonment  which may  extend to two years; offences under Ss. 61 and  62  are punishable  with imprisonment which may extend to  one  year while  offences  under  Ss. 51 and 69  are  punishable  with imprisonment  which  may  extend to  six  months  only.   An offence   under  s,  50  is  punishable  with   imprisonment extending to one month or with fine extending to Rs. 50/-. This  comparison clearly shows that the legislature  took  a more  serious view of the offence of wilful detention  of  a postal articles (s. 52) than of many other offences in  this Chapter.  Delay in the conveyance or delivery of a mail  bag or other postal articles in the course of transmission by  a



person  employed to carry the same is made  punishable  with only a fine of Rs. 501- (s. 49).  Withdrawal from duties  of office without permission or without having given a  month’s previous, notice in writing by a person employed to carry or deliver a mail bag or postal article is also made punishable only  with imprisonment extending to one month or with  fine extending  to  Rs.  501-.  Making of a false  entry  in  the register with intention to induce the belief that an article has  been  delivered is made  punishable  with  imprisonment extending  to only six months or with fine extending to  Rs. 100/-.   But Wilful, detention of a postal article  is  made punishable with imprisonment extending to two years.  Is  it reasonable to thin that the legislature would prescribe this heavy punishment for detention of a postal article which was not  deliberate  and on purpose, while  prescribing  lighter punishment as mentioned above for the offences under Ss. 49, 50  and  5 1. We do not think so.  The very fact  that  this comparatively  heavy punishment of two  years’  imprisonment has  been  prescribed  for wilful  detention  while  lighter punishment  has  been prescribed under Ss. 49,  50  and  51, justifies,  in  our opinion, the concclusion that  the  word "wilful"  was  used  by the legislature to  mean  only  such detention which was deliberate and for some purpose. It is interesting to notice in this connection that in  the, preceding section 52 the legislature after making punishable the  offence  of theft of a postal article or  of  dishonest misappropriation  of  the  same, also  made  punishable  the secretion,  destruction or throwing away any postal  article if  done  "for  any  purpose whatsoever".   It  is,  in  our opinion,  reasonable  to think that in s. 53 when  the  word "wilfully" was used, the 611 legislature  also  intended  that  the  detention  would  be punishable only if made for some purpose. Coining  now to the facts of the present case, we find  that the  prosecution  alleged  a  definite  purpose,  viz.,  the purpose  of  theft of the contents of  the  envelope-as  the purpose  with  which the postal article was  detained.   The existence   of   that  purpose  has   not,   however,   been established.   Nothing was suggested before us as  to,  what other purpose the appellant could ’have had in detaining the article.  There is, therefore, no escape from the conclusion that the detention was not deliberate and on purpose, but as a   result  of  either  inadvertence  or   carelessness   or negligence.   So,  the  appellant cannot  be  said  to  have -detained or delayed the article ’wilfully’. Accordingly,  we  allow the appeal, set aside the  order  of conviction  and sentence passed by the High Court and  order that the appellant be acquitted of the charge against him. RAGHUBAR  DAYAL, J.-The main question to determine, in  this case, is what the expression ’wilfully detains or delays’ in s. 53 of the Indian Post Office Act, 1898 (Act VI of  1898), hereinafter called the Act, means. I  do  not  agree that it means  such  detention  which  was deliberate  and for some purpose.  I am of opinion that  the detention  or delay would be ’wilful’ if it was  intentional and  deliberate  on  the part of the  officer  of  the  post office,  as  opposed to detention or delay  -on  account  of negligence or inadvertence.  The word ’wilful’ or ’wilfully’ used  in  other enactments have been construed by  Court  in this manner.  I may refer ’to some of these cases. In  Taylor v. Vergette(1) ’wilful delay’ has been  construed ,to mean ’intional delay’.               ’Wilfully’   means  that  the  act   is   done               deliberately   and   intentionally,   not   by



             accident or inadvertence, but so that the mind               of the person who does the act goes with  it".               In Tamboli v. Great Indian Peninsular  Railway               Company(3)  the Privy Council had to  construe               the expression ’wilful neglect’ in determining               the    responsibility    of    the     railway               administration or its servants and approved of               what  was  said  by Lord  Russel  in  Reg.  v.               Senior(2). (1)  (1861) 30 L.J. Ex. 400.        (2)  [1889] 1 Q.B.  283, 290. (3) L.R. 55 I.A. 67=I.L.R. 52 Bom. 169. L.P(D)LSCI--20(a) 612 In Wheeler v. New Merton Board Mills, Ltd.(1) it was said: -               "’Wilful  act’  is plain English,  and  I  can               entertain no doubt that the installing of this               machine without guard or fence for use in  the               factory was a wilful act by some one.  It  was               an  act, and it was intentional.  It  is  true               that  though  ’wilful’ and  ’intentional’  are               synonymous........  wilful’ is  more  commonly               used  in  modern  speech  of  bad  conduct  or               actions  than  of  good, though  it  does  not               necessarily  connote  blame; but that  is  far               from  supporting the strange  contention  that               wilful  act  in  s.  29,  sub-s.  1,  must  be               confined  to  something done  with  intent  to               injure".               In  Hudson v. Official  Liquidator(2)  ’wilful               default’  was construed and it was said at  p.               930:               "The  adjective  ’wilful’ in ’wilful  acts  or               defaults’   has  evidently  been  used  as   a               description and not as a definition.  The idea               intended to be conveyed is that the default is               occasioned  by the exercise of volition or  as               the result of the non-exercise of will due  to               supine  indifference, although  the  defaulter               knew or was in a position to know that loss or               harm was likely to result.  The word does  not               necessarily   suggest   the  idea   of   moral               turpitude.   We  have also  to  eliminate  the               elements  of  accident  or  inadvertence   -or               honest  error of judgement.  The default  must               be the result of deliberation or intent or  be               the   consequence  of  a  reckless   omission.               ’Wilful default’, therefore, is indicative  of               some misconduct in the transaction of business               or in the discharge of duty by omitting to  do               something either deliberately or by a reckless               disregard  of  the  fact whether  the  act  or               omission was or was not a breach of duty". This  view was accepted by the Madras High Court  in  T.N.K. Govindarajulu Chetty, In re(3). The  words  ’wilful’ and ’wilfully’ have been  used  in  the various  provisions of the Act do not lead to any  different interpretation of these words. Section  6 of the Act provides, inter alia, that no  officer of  the Post Office shall incur any liability by  reason  of any  loss,  mis-delivery,  delay or damage,  unless  he  has caused  the  same  fraudulently  or by  his  wilful  act  or default. (1)[1933] 2 K.B. 669.        (2) A.I.R. 1929 All. 826-                    (3) 1951 2. S.T.C. 27.



613 Section 48(c) provides that no suit or other legal  proceed- ing  shall  be  instituted against  the  Government  or  any officer of the post office in respect of the payment of  any money  order being refused or delayed by, or on account  of, any  accidental neglect, omission or mistake by, or  on  the part  of  an Officer of the post office, or  for  any  other cause  whatsoever,  other than the fraud or  wilful  act  or default  such  officer;  and  brings  out  effectively   the contradistinction  between  wilful  act  or  default  of  an officer  and an act done on account of  accidental  neglect, omission or mistake. Section 49 to 70 provide for offences.  Sections 49, 50  and 51 deal with offences which are committed by persons who are employed  to  carry or deliver any mail bag  or  any  postal article,  in course of transmission by post.  They are  thus offences  by  carriers  of postal  articles.   They  can  be committed both by the officers of the postal department  and by  others as well.  Such of the acts contemplated by  those sections  which  can  also fall  under  the  other  sections exclusively applicable to officers of the post office,  will naturally  be dealt with under those sections.  The  persons who will be dealt with under Ss. 49 to 51 or other  sections providing for lighter punishments will be those who are  not officers  of the postal department but are concerned in  any manner with the transmission of the post. Clause (c) of s. 49 makes punishable the loitering or making delay  in  the  conveyance or delivery of any  mail  bag  or postal article, and thus emphasizes the necessity of  prompt transport of postal articles. Sections 52 to 66 provide for offences by officers of a post office. Section  52  provides  punishment for  committing  theft  or dishonestly  misappropriating  in  respect of  or,  for  any purpose  whatsoever, secreting, destroying or throwing  away any postal article in the course of transmission by post  or anything contained therein.  The offence is punishable  with imprisonment  upto seven years and also with fine.  This  is the most serious offence. It  is to be noted for our purpose that the secreting,  des- troying or throwing away of the postal article for any  pur- pose  whatsoever is an offence.  An act done with a  purpose must be a deliberate act and a, deliberate act must also  be one  done  with  some purpose.  The  legislature,  where  it intended to make the purpose behind an act an ingredient  of the  offence, expressly stated so.  If the word ’wilful’  or ’wilfully’  is used in the Act as a synonym for an act  done deliberately and for some purpose, the expression ’wilfully’ could  have  been  used in the place  of  ’for  any  purpose whatsoever’.   This,  however, the legislature did  not  do, though it used that word in the very next section, viz.,  s. 53 which reads: 614 .lm15 "Whoever,  being an officer of the Post Office, contrary  to his  duty,  opens, or causes or suffers to  be  opened,  any postal  article  in  course  of  transmission  by  post,  or wilfully  detains  or  delayed or causes or  suffers  to  be detained  or  delayed,  any such postal  article,  shall  be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend  to two years, or with fine or with both: Provided  that nothing in this section shall extend  to  the opening,  detaining or delaying of any postal article  under the  authority of this Act or in obedience to the  order  in writing  of  the Central Government or the  direction  of  a



competent Court". Sections 54, 55 and 56 make certain acts done  fraudulently, knowingly or with intent, punishable with imprisonment  upto two years or fine.  Section 55 makes the fraudulent altering or secreting or destroying of a document which an officer of the  post office is entrusted with keeping, punishable  with imprisonment upto two years and with fine.  This act is con- sidered  less heinous than that of secreting, destroying  or throwing  away  of  any  postal article  in  the  course  of transmission by post, for any purpose whatsoever. Section  66(1)  makes the master of a ship who,  in  certian circumstances,  knowingly  has  in his  baggage  or  in  his possession  or  custody,  any  postal  article  within   the exclusive  privilege conferred on the Central Government  by s. 4, punishable with fine which may extend to Rs. 50/-  for every  such  postal article.  Here a certain  act  committed knowingly is made an offence.  Sub-s. (2) of s. 66 makes the detention  of any postal article, after a demand for it  has been  made  by an -officer of the post  office,  punishable. Here,  the  mere  detention after a  demand  is  made  penal irrespective  of  the  intention  or  purpose  behind   such detention. Section  67  makes  the detention of  mails  or  any  postal article  in  the course of transmission by  post  by  anyone except  under  the various circumstances  mentioned  in  the section, in offence.  Here again, mere detention is made  an offence  irrespective  of the circumstances in which  it  is made,  excepting  for  reasons  mentioned  in  the   section iteself. Section 68 reads:               "Whoever,  fraudulently retains,  or  wilfully               secretes  or  makes  away with,  or  keeps  or               detains, or when required by an officer of the               post  office, neglects or refuses  to  deliver               up, any postal article in               615               course of transmission by post which ought  to               have been delivered to any other person, or  a               mail  bag containing a postal, article,  shall               be  punishable  with imprisonment for  a  term               which may extend to two years, and shall  also               be punishable with fine". It  is  to be noticed that ’wilfully’ secreting  any  postal article in the course of transmission by post is an  offence under this section.  A comparison with the provisions of  s. 52 of the Act indicates that the legislature must have  used the expresssions ’wilfully’ and ’for any purpose whatsoever’ in different senses. maliciously  with  intent to injure  any  person,  offences. ’Wilfully"   here  is  used  as  something   distinct   from ’maliciously’  and  is,  further used  in  addition  to  the expression  ’with intent to injure any person’, that  is  to say,  the particular purpose or intent is -in ingredient  of the offence in addition to ’wilfully’. Sections  6  and  48(c) provide that an officer  of  a  post office  would be liable for the loss, misdelivery, delay  or of   damage  to  any  postal  article  in  the   course   of transmission  or  for the delay in the payment  of  a  money order, only when this happens as a result of his wilful  act or  default.   The person suffering  from  such  misdelivery etc., has no claim against the officer of the post office if that thing has been the result of something which could  not be said to be the wilful act or default of a postal officer. It is no concern of the addressee or recipient of an article in  transit  by post that the wilful act or default  of  the



postal officer was with a certain purpose or not and whether that  officer succeeded in that purpose or not. :Vie  should be  successful  in  his  claim if  the  postal  officer  has deliberately  not acted in the manner he is required to  act tinder  the Act or the rules framed thereunder or if he  has deliberately  acted in violation of the duties entrusted  to him.  In either case, the act of the officer concerned would be  wilful  inasmuch  as  he  would  act  intentionally   in violation  of his duty or in a manner in which he is not  to act and not accidently or inadvertently. The  provision  of s.53 of the Act require that  the  office wilfully  detains’  the postal article and that the  act  of detention be contrary to his duty prescribed by or under the Act.   Section 21(2)(c) empowers the Central  Government  to make  rules  providing  for the detention  and  disposal  of articles  in  course  of transmission  by  post  in  certain circumstances.   Sections  22(1),  23,  26.  27B  and  37(2) provide  for the circumstances in which postal articles  can be detained or delayed.  It is not necessary to detail those circumstances.   The clause ’contrary to his  duty’  governs both the act of opening 616 of  the Postal article and to the act of detaining it.   The first  necessary  ingredient of the offence under s.  53  is that  the  postal officer should act contrary to  his  duty. Such  an  act,  however,  can  take  place  by  accident  or negligence  also, without the officer’s knowing it  or  even giving  any  thou-]it  to  it  and  therefore  without   his exercising  his  will  in  that  matter.   The  legislature, therefore,  felt  that accidental or negligent acts  be  not made offences and that detention of the postal article, even if  it be contrary to duty, be protected and that only  such detention  of  the  articles be  made  punishable  which  be committed wilfully, i.e., when the officer applied his  mind towards  the act and has committed it deliberately with  the intention of committing it. The  mere act of detaining mails or postal articles  by  any person  other than a postal officer is made punishable  only with  fine under s. 67 of the Act.  This indicates that  the punishment  under s. 53 is severe because the culprit is  an officer  of the post office who has opportunities to  detain the postal article and who acts contrary to his duty. The  proviso to s. 53 refers to cases which would have  come within  the  main  provisions, and provides  that  the  main provisions do not extend to the opening, detaining or delay- ing of any postal article under the authority of the Act  or in  obedience  to  the  order  in  writing  of  the  Central Government or the direction of a competent Court.  Such acts would  be  undoubtedly deliberate and without  any  criminal purpose. The use of the expression ’for any purpose whatsoever’ in s. 52 is no guide to construe the word ’wilfully’ in s. 53.  It appears  to have been used in s. 52 in contradistinction  to the mens rea necessary for the commission of the offence  of theft  or of dishonest misappropriation.  Its use  makes  it clear that the act of secreting, destroying or throwing away of the postal article will be punishable if with a  purpose, whatever that may have been. I,  therefore, construe ’wilfully’ in s. 53 to mean  ’inten- tionally and deliberately’ and not accidently or negligently and  hold that the appellant has been rightly  convicted  of the offence under that section. I  am further of opinion that even if the  expression  ’wil- fully detains’ in s. 53 of the Act means a detention delibe- rate and for some purpose, the appellant is not entitled  to



an acquittal on the findings the Courts have arrived at. The  appellant, in ordinary course of business,  would  have forwarded  the registered letter by the mail on October  18, 1955 when it had been received at the usual hour and the ap- pellant’s contention that it was received after the despatch 617 of  the  mail has not been accepted.  It  follows  that  the appellant deliberately detained the registered letter.   The intention   and  deliberation  was  directed   towards   the detaining of the registered letter and to the non-forwarding of  it  in  due  course  With  the  mail  that  day.   Every intentional and deliberate act must be with some purpose  or object.  It may be that in some cases the object be achieved by  the mere doing of the act intended, that is to say,  the object  was just the doing of that act.  In other cases,  an act  may  be  done  with  some  further  object  also.   The appellant’s purpose behind his intentional act of  detaining the registered letter must have been to remove what he might have  suspected the letter to contain.  If he did  not  have any such object, he could not have any reason to depart from his duty and detain the letter instead of sending it by  the next  mail in the ordinary course of his duties.   His  act, therefore, in detaining the letter, amounted to his  detain- ing it wilfully. that  he  himself  opened  the  letter,  tempered  with  its contents,  and removed the half currency note,  facts  which have been proved to have been committed by someone, does not mean that his detaining the letter was not on purpose. A  person may do an act with a certain purpose and  yet  may not succeed in his purpose.  Even if he succeeds it may  not be  possible for any other person to establish that  he  did that act for that purpose and did succeed in achieving  that purpose. I would, therefore, dismiss the appeal.                        ORDER BY COURT In  accordance  with the majority opinion,  the  appeal  is, allowed, the order of conviction and sentence set aside  and the appellant ordered to be acquitted of the charge  against him.                        Appeal allowed. 618