Inspector oj Police, Batticaloa v. Ponniah.
Present: Koch J.
INSPECTOR OF POLICE, BATTICALOA v. PONNIAH.
99—P. C. Kalmunai, 23,389. '
Post Office—Misbehaviour in a public place—Penal Code, s. 488.
A Post Office is a public place within the meaning of section 488 of thePenal Code.
KOCH J.—Inspector of Police, Batticaloa v. Ponniah.
PPLICATION for revision of an order of the Police Magistrate ofKalmunai.
C. T. Olegasegaram, for accused, petitioner.
E. H. T. Gunasekara, C.C., for Crown, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
June 22, 1938. Koch J.—
The petitioner was charged with having misbehaved himself while ina state of intoxication in a public place,, namely, the Kalmunai PostOffice, to the. annoyancfe of the Postmaster of Kalmunai, an offencepunishable under section 488 of the Ceylon Penal Code. He was convictedand fined Rs. 10 in default one week’s simple imprisonment.
On the merits, I have not the slightest doubt that the learned Magistratehas come to a correct conclusion. There is ample evidence to justify hisfinding.
The petitioner’s Counsel has, however, raised a point of law whichrequires consideration. He maintains that a Post Office is not a publicplace within the meaning of this section.
He cited the case of Pietersz v. Wiggin ’. Withers J. in the course ofhis judgment said:
“ I should have thought a police station was. essentially a private• place, and none the less so because members of the public can enter itfor a limited purpose. It might as well be argued that the office of thehead of a public department was a public place. In my opinion apublic place in the said section is a place to which and from which thepublic have ingress and egress as of right and without • reference toany particular purpose, as a public thoroughfare, square, &c.,”
In Wijesuriya v. Abeyesekera1, Shaw J. held that a circus was not a 'public place. The reasoning is more easily understood here as no memberof the public can lawfully enter a circus without first paying for hisadmission and as it is within the power of the proprietor or manager toprevent anyone entering without payment. ^
The difficulty I feel in agreeing with the earlier decision (and I say sowith all respect), is that a member of the public cannot be prevented fromentering a police station although if it is found that his visit is purposeless,he may later be ordered out.
The next case on the point concerns a resthouse, namely, Perkins v.Don Samel1. Jayawardena J. agreed with the Magistrate that a rest-house was a public place.
If the decision in Pietersz v. Wiggin (supra) applied a resthouse cannotbe considered a public place and the public have the right to enter it onlyfor a limited purpose. Jayawardena J. seems to have based his opinionon an English case, The Queen v. Wellard'. There Grove J. said that theconclusion for the prisoner was that a public place must be a place wherethe public have an absolute legal right to go, but, in his opinion, a publicplace was one where the public-go no matter whether they have a right
1 2 Ceylon Lato Reports 111.8 28 N. L. R. 173.
8 si N. L. R. 159.* (1884) 14 Q. B. D. 63.
AKBAR S.P.J.—Aron v. Senanayake.
to go or not. The right is not the question. In that case, the learnedJudge expressed himself in the way he did as the misconduct complainedof took place on a grassy spot which belonged to the parish of Northfleet.Persons who desired to do so were in the habit of going to this spotalthough in going there they were legally speaking trespassing.
I would prefer to follow the decision in Perkins v. Don Samel for thereason I have given and would therefore hold that a Post Office is a publicplace within the meaning of section 488 of the Penal Code.
The point of law raised therefore also fails and the application must bedismissed.
INSPECTOR OF POLICE, BATTICALOA v. PONNIAH