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In re Application of CANAGARATNE for a Mandamus.
Ordinance No. 7 of 1S86, >. 4—Right of householder to water terviee forprivate ute—Duty of officer in charge of Waterworks to supply water onthe premises—Application for a mandamus.
Under the Ordinance No. 7 of 1886 the Government is bound tosupply drinking water within the Municipality of Colombo, but noton the premises of a householder for bis domestic use.
Where there is a public standpipe in the neighbourhood of a housefrom which its owner is able to take water for bis domestic use, and theofficer in charge of the Waterworks is not prepared to reoommendto the Government that the private supply asked for be granted.
Held that such householder is not entitled to a mandamus on theofficer to compel him to provide such service.
B. H. J. C. CANAGARATNE appeared in person and movedfor a rule on Mr. MacBride, the Director of Public Works,
to show cause why a mandamue should not be issued on him toprovide water service to the private residence of the applicant.He submitted an affidavit aud also correspondence which passedbetween him and the Director and others on the subject of thewater service he required.
In the affidavit Mr. Canagaratne set forth that he was a residentof Colombo ; that he applied to the Director of Public Works forprivate service of water to house No. 121, Jampettah street,Colombo, where he lived, and which belonged to him; that, notbeing favoured with an answer, he wrote to the ProvincialEngineer, and was informed on the 23rd January last that privateservice could not be given him ; that no reason was assigned forthe refusal; that he personally interviewed him subsequently,when the Provincial Engineer promised to inspect hiB house,which, however, he did not do; that thereupon he complainedto the Member of the Municipal Council for St. Paul’s Ward,where the house in question was situate; that the reason forthe refusal was then stated to be that the house in question couldonly be classed as B 4, being a small house, not entitled to specialconnection with the main pipe; that, so far as he (the applicant)knew, there was no authority for such a classification ; that theDirector of Public Works was, he verily believed, the only personempowered by Government to allow a private service of waterunder Ordinance No. 7 of 1886, section 4; that several smallerhouses than the applicant’s had been allowed private service ofwater; and that he could not ascertain upon what principlehouses were allowed water service.
Their Lordships (Lawrie, A.C.J., and WlTHEBS, J.) havingheard Mr. Canagaratne, refused his application.
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22nd March, 1895. Lawrib, A.C.J.—
A party applying for a mandamus must make ont a legal rightand a legal obligation. In my opinion the applicant has made ontneither. He incidentally states that he resides in a house, 121,Jampettah street, Colombo, of which he iB the owner; bnt neitherresidence nor ownership give him a legal right to what he says hewants, viz., a private service of water. Provision was made byGovernment nine or ten years ago for a good supply of water forthe town of Colombo, and by the Ordinance 7 of 1886 it wasprovided (section 4) that the Ceylon Government may, on appli-cation by the owner or occupier of any house, allow a privateservice of water to such house for domestic purposes, in Buchquantities and under such conditions as the Government deemreasonable. This seems to me-to leave to Government the duty ofconsidering each application for a private water service supply.It may be that the supply from Labugama is insufficient (therebeing only one main pipe) to allow of every house having a privatesupply ; it may be that in some parts of the town it is more diffi-cult to give the supply than in others. Government reserved toitself (or perhaps, strictly speaking, the Legislature expressly gaveto Government) the duty of supplying the citizens with waterunder such conditions as the Government deemed reasonable. Itdid not confer on any citizen the right to have -a supply of waterfor his private use. '’’he wants of the public have first to be con-sidered, and the officer addressed by the applicant says that he isnot prepared to recommend that the private supply asked for begranted. It seems to me there is an end of the matter, unless,indeed, the applicant should address some higher officer of Govern-ment in the hope of the subordinate’s ruling being reversed. Heneed not come to the Supreme Court, which is ready to issue writsof mandamus on all judicial officers who fail or exceed in theduties connected with the administration of justice, but which isslow to interfere in matters not judicial with which this Court canhave no special knowledge, and which the Legislature has left toofficers who are not judicial, over whom in the ordinary coursethia Court does not claim jurisdiction.
Under the Ordinance referred to, namely, No, 7 of 1886, theCeylon Government is bound to supply a quantity of drinkingWater within the Municipality of Colombo; but it is not bourn! tosupply water on the premises for the domestic use of the owneror occupier of the house within the Municipality. It may do soon his application, in such quantities and under such conditions
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as the Government deem reasonable. The power of allowing aprivate supply of water to a house so situate for domesticpurposes has been placed in an officer called the WaterworksEngineer. No doubt there are cases in which a person who hasa discretion to do or not to do something by statute has been com-pelled by mandamus to do what he refused to do capriciously.But it is quite unnecessary to consider this matter from that pointof view. The applicant for a rule against this officer admits thatthere is a public standpipe in the neighbourhood of his house fromwhich he is able to take water for the domestic use of himself andhis household. This is, no doubt, not so convenient to him as ifthe water were laid into his house. But his ability to obtain whathe requires, though perhaps at some considerable inconvenience,in my opinion precludes him, in the circumstances of this case,from applying for this specific remedy. For this simple reason Iwould refuse the application.
In re Application of CANAGARATNE for a Mandamus