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lti the Matter of the Caveat entered by Christian Muttiah.
D. C., Colombo, 211.
Marriage regiatration—Ordinance No. 2 of 1896, ss. 30, 31—Caveat by brotherof bride—Frivolousend vexatious objection—Opportunity forshowing
A District Judge,who inquires summarilyunder section 31ofOrdi-
nance No. 2 of 1895 into the matter of a caveat entered against amarriage proposed to be registered, is not bound to give the caveator inevery case an opportunity to show cause why he should not be fined forentering the caveat on frivolous and vexatious grounds.
Per Bbowne, A.JA caveator, who is nota legal guardianofeither
of the parties who intend to marry, always takes upon himself – a certainrisk of creating a social seandal by his interference, and it is extremelydesirable that all matters which such a person brings forward shouldbe disposed of as . quickly as possible. It is for this reason, I think, thatOrdinance No. 2 of 1895, section 81, clause 2, requires that the procedureof the District Court should be by summary inquiry.
This Ordinance differs from the Criminal Procedure Code, which, insection 197 (3), requires that an opportunity for showing cause shouldbe given. But thereis no such provision inOrdinance No. 2of1895,
and there is no necessity of giving time to show cause.
HIS was a proceeding based upon “ The Marriage RegistrationOrdinance, 1895,” sections 30 and 31. It appeared that one Mr.
Chinniah and Miss Mary Muttiah intending to marry each other,proper notice thereof was given to the registrar of the district, buta brother of the bride named Christian Muttiah entered a caveatobjecting to the marriage, whereupon the registrar reported thematter to the District Judge of Colombo. The Caveator’s objec-tions were that the bride had been forced to give her consent to themarriage; that the mother also had consented under the influenceof threats; that the bridegroom was a person of much lower status
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in society than the set to which the bride belonged; and, that thebride would be discarded by .her relatives. if the marriage.wassolemnized in due course.
The Additional District Judge (Mr. F. R. Dias), after hearingevidence, was of opinion that the mother and bride had consentedfreely to the marriage, and that the caveat was entered on frivolousand vexatious grounds. Exercising his power under section 3i(2), he imposed a fine of Rs. 500 on Christian Muttiah.
The caveator appealed.
Walter Pereira (with him Elliott), for appellant.-—Thoughsection 31 does not provide that a party should be called upon toshow cause why .he should not be fined for entering a frivolousor vexatious caveat, yet that opportunity must be given to thealleged offender, even as it is given in the case of a similar offencedealt with in the Criminal Procedure Code, wherein to there is noprovision as to showing cause (Silva v. Mamadu, 3 N. L. R. 3). Awitness giving false evidence has also the opportunity of show-ing cause, though there is no special procedure laid down. Hadthe .appellant known that a fine was impending, he would- no!- haverested his case upon his mother’s evidence, but would have-calledother witnesses to prove coercion. ,The materials in the recordwere insufficient tp justify a fine. -The case of Tidoris v. Carolis(4 N. L. R. 325) proves the necessity for calling upon the offenderto show ca'us'e. There was evidence, which was not adduced inthe Court below, to show the bond fides of .the appellant. [Browne,A. J.—There is no affidavit before Os that the appellant had anymore’evidence, or that he has been prejudiced by not being .calledupon. Moncreiff, J.—The circumstances of the case mueh tooclearly show that this was a frivolous and vexatious caveat.).
Van Langenberg, for-respondent.
Mr. Pereira has taken a technical objection. He says that byanalogy with the practice in other cases, particularly two sectionswhich he .quoted from the Criminal Procedure Code, the judgeshould not have inflicted the fine without giving the caveator achance of showing cause. My opinion is that the judge was notbound to do that in this case. In my opinion it would'have beena waste of time. The caveator knew what entering a caveat meant.He knew that he had undertaken to produce evidence in supportof his objections, and that if he did not do so he would be open toa charge of having made a frivolous and vexatious objection, andhe in fact knew so much about tke law that I expect he knew whatthe result of that was. I think that he has not'been prejudiced
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by what the judge did, because the judge called upon him to] givesuch evidence as hehadin support ofhisobjections.Inmy
opinion his attemptto bringevidencewasdeservingyofthe
The status of the bridegroom is good, and the caveator is cer-tainly not the person to complain of it. The bride was proved tohave given her consent willingly. I dismiss from considerationthe. allegation that she would be discarded by her relatives if thismarriage took place.Wehavethen todealwith thequestion
whether the mothergaveherconsentunder the influenceof
threats. The only evidence called was that of the caveator’sbrother, who gave an account of his interview with his mother, inwhich he says that she expressed her dislike to the marriage; thatshe had not known until he informed her what the real state ofaffairs was; that she had been more or less coerced by Mr. Tampoein the matter; and that she would like to write to her son, thecaveator, begging him to put a stop to the marriage. Mr. EdwardMuttiah says that he thereupon wrote out the letter which is nowin the Court and his mother signed it. It is a very abrupt and shortletter, in which the mother begs the son to stop the issuing of thecertificate.
I have grave doubt as to whether any such conversation tookplace; in fact I am inclined to believe that no such conversationever took place. With regard to the letter, I do not. believe thatMrs. Muttiah sanctioned it. The appearance of the letter issuspicious. The address and the date appear to be in one hand-writing, the body of the letter in a second handwriting, and,thesignature in a third. What it means I do not know, nor who theperson or persons who wrote it were, but I do not regard it as. genuine.
The mother was called, and she declared that there was no truthin the story told by her son Edward; she emphatically deniedthat she had signed the letter produced, or that she had any objec-tion to the’ marriage. She said she consulted her parents regard-ing Her daughter’s marriage, and they were all agreeable; and shefurther says that she considered Dr. Chinniah a most eligiblehusband for her daughter.
On the evidence the District Judge found that the objections ofthe caveator were frivolous and vexatious and fined him Rs. 500.I think that the objections were frivolous and vexatious. Thecaveator professed to act with regard to the mother’s consent uponher letter, which he should never have accepted as authority forwhat he did without making inquiries and seeing his mother onthe subject. The evidence he produced—that of his brother—was
of a most unsatisfactory description, and I think that the judgewas justified under the circumstances in inflicting a fine.
I think, however, that the fine was rather severe. Perhaps itmay be reduced to Rs. 250.
I agree in the view my brother has taken. A caveator who isnot a legal guardian of either of the parties who intend to marryalways takes upon himself a certain risk of creating a social scandalby his interference, and it is extremely desirable that all matterswhich he brings forward as a volunteer should be disposed of asquickly as possible. It is for this reason, I think, that OrdinanceNo. 2 of 1895, section 31, clause 2, required that the procedure of theDistrict Court, when reference happens to be made to it, should beby summary inquiry, and therefore it added to that provision thepower which the District Judge has here exercised, whereby alsoit gave warning to future caveators of the perilous position inwhich they would stand: they would get but short shrift whenthey came before the Court if they did not substantiate the scandalthey set on| foot. In so enacting, this Ordinance differs from theCriminal Procedure Code, which, in section 197 (3), requires thatan opportunity for showing cause should be given, a provisionwhich by analogy I thought it right to follow in orders made undersections 437 and 440. I do not therefore think that where, therebeing no such provision in Ordinance No. 2 of . 1895, the procedure issummary, the same necessity of giving time to show cause arises.It may be that a complainant in a criminal matter may not knowthat, he makes his complaint subject to the provisions of both thesesections of the Criminal Procedure Code, and that he is exposinghimself to the peril of a fine for compensation or Crown costs.But the caveator in the Ordinance is abundantly warned, and whenhe enters the Court he must know that the possibility of his beingfined is at stake for himself. I therefore do not accede to Mr.Pereira’s technical objection, and I quite agree with '-the condem-natory view of the caveator’s conduct which my brother hasexpressed. At the same time I agree with him that the fine maybe reduced as he proposes.
In the Matter of the Caveat entered by CHRISTIAN MUTTIAH D. C. , Colombo,211