Ariyaralne v. Food and Price Control Inspector, Gal/e
H. ARIYABATNE, Appellant and FOOD & PRICE CONTROLINSPECTOR, GALLE, Respondent
S.C. 1199/6S—M. G. Galle, 51557
Evidence—Decoy—Weight oj his testimony—Control of Prices Act.
Although a decoy is on a different footing from on accomplice so far os thorulo of practice regarding corroboration is concornod, his evidence should. however bo probod and oxorninod with groat coro.
.A.PPEAL from a judgment of tho Magistrate’s Court, Galle.
E. Jl. S. R. Coomaraswamy, with T. Joganathan, S. C. B. Walgampayaand P. H. Kurukulasuriija, for tho accused-appellant.
Shibly Aziz, Crown Counsel, for the Attorney-General.
Cur. adv. xru.lt.
SAJIERAYVICKLRAME, J.—Ariyaratne v. Food and Price Control
August 24, 1970. SASIERAWICKBAAIK, J.—
The appellant was convicted under the Control of Prices Act, for sellinga tin of condensed milk for Re. P10, a price in excess of the maximumcontrolled retail price of Rs. 105.
The decoy Doxan do Silva stated that he went to the accused’s boutiquoand asked for a tin of condensed milk and tendered a two rupee note andthat he was given 90 cents change and the tin of milk. One Gunasckeraa Food & Price Control Inspector had been sent along with the decoy andhe was standing outside the boutique at the time of the transaction.Food & Price Control Inspector Bamunuvitarane was standing somedistance away. He came up when Gunasckera gave him a signal. Bamu-nuvitaranc said, “ Mr. Gunasckera could have seen the transaction. Hecould have heard also. If lie was not a deaf man he could have heardthe decoy speaking to the accused. The table was just at the entrance tothe boutique. ”
It was put to the decoy that he was given another 5 cents coin and hehad put it away. He was questioned as follows :—•
“ Q. Could you have disposed of this extra five-ccnt coin withoutthe knowledge of any officer, if you were so inclined ?
A. I could not have done 60, because there was an officerwatching the transaction. ”
The officer who is alleged to have watched the transaction is Gunasckera.Bamunuvitarane himself admitted that he did not see the transactionand therefore he could not spieak to it. Gunasckera however was notcalled a6 a witness.
It would appear that Gunasckera was a resident of Gallo and had beena Price Control inspector there for a period of years. The accused gaveevidence and stated that ho was aware that Gunasckera was a PriceControl Inspector. It is probable that he was aware of this fact. It wasadmitted bj’ the prosecution witnesses that the boutique had a boarddisplayed which showed that the price of a tin of condensed milk wasRe. 1 05. The question therefore naturally arises whether the accusedwould have charged a customer a sum in excess of the price displayed onhis board when a person whom he knewr to be a Price Control inspectorwas standing just outside his boutique and within hearing.
The accused admitted the transaction and claimed that he had soldthe tin of milk for the correct prico of Re. 105. The question at issuetherefore was whether the price paid was Re. 105 or 1T0. The decoystated that he and Gunasckera were both searched by Bamunuvitaranebefore ho went into the boutique and that ho was searched immediatelyafter the transaction by Bamunuvitarane. Bamunuvitarane, though hespoke of the search prior to the transaction, did not speak of any searchby him of the decoy immediately after the transaction. The whole case
J/tissan r. CuVuUcn
therefore rested on the evidence of the decoy alone and received no corro-boration from the evidence of Bannmuvitarane. Price Control InspectorGunasekera who might have been in a position to corroborate the evidenceof the decoy was not called as a witness.
The learned magistrate makes no mention of the fact that Gunasekerawas not called as a witness and states that the two prosecution witnesses,namely, Banumuvitaranc and the decoy, corroborated one another andwere consistent in their t estimony. lie has misdirected himself in think-ing that there, was corroboration of the decoy’s evidence to be found in theevidence of Baiminuvitaranc. I think however that a decoy is on adifferent footing from an accomplice so far as the rule of practice regardingcorroboration is concerned but that his evidence should however boprobed and examined with great care—vide Bechlcuela v. Albert1.
The learned magistrate has disposed of the evidence of the prosecutionwitnesses with a few lines. He said, ” The raid was organised by ZVTr.Bamunuvitarane, Food and Price Control Inspector. He searchedMr. Doxan de Silva ancl Gunasekera and asked Doxan dc Silva to buy atin of condensed milk. Doxan dc Silva went to the boutique of the.accused and bought a tin of condensed milk for Be. 1T0. He tendered atwo-rupee note and he Mas given the balance of ninety cents by theaccused. The transaction teas watched bv Gunasekera. These twowitnesses corroborated one another and were consistent in their testimony.
I see no reason to disbelieve their evidence. ” There has not, in this case,been any' probing or careful examination of the evidence of the decoy.
I set aside the conviction and sentence and acquit the accused-appellant.
H. ARIYARATNE, Appellant and FOOD & PRICE CONTROL INSPECTOR, GALLE, Respondent