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KATHA v. MEERA.P. G., Ratnapura, 13,779.
Criminal Procedure Code, s. 478—Disposal of property produced in PoliceCourt—Application, on discharge of accused, to withdraw moneyrealized by sale of property alleged to be stolen and deposited inCourt—Magistrate’s refusal to grant such application by complain-ant—Validity of order detaining proceeds sale.
After certain perishable goods, which formed the subject of acharge of dishonest misappropriation, had been sold by order ofthe Police Magistrate and proceeds thereof brought into Court,he discharged the accused without proceeding with the inquiry,and refused an order to allow the complainant to draw the moneyin deposit till the result of a civil action, which the Magistratesuggested, should be known.
Held that there was no law justifying such procedure, and that ifthe Magistrate purported to act under section 478 of the CriminalProcedure Code, he was clearly in error, because he had notconcluded the inquiry.
Held further that as the accused was the agent for thecomplainant and dealt with the goods seized and sold as suchagent, the Magistrate had no power to detain the proceeds ofthe sale pending the result of a civil action.
T N revision. The facts of the case are fully set forth in thejudgment of Withers, J.
H. A. Jayawardana, for petitioner in revision.
6th January, 1898. Withers, J.—
This is an application by one Omer Kafha, complainant inr'P. C., Ratnapura, 13,779, to have an order of the Magistrate ofthat Court, made on the 27th November last, brought up in revision.The order complained of was a refusal to allow the complainantto take out of Court a sum of Rs. 1,128'45 deposited in Courtunder the following circumstances. The petitioner in revisionon 10th September last charged one Kachchi Navoor Meerawith the offence of theft or dishonest misappropriation of anumber of cases containing tea grown on the petitioner’s estate,which was in charge of the person accused.
For some reason or another (I am told by consent of parties)some of this tea was sold and the proceeds, amounting to the Bumabove-mentioned, were brought into Court.
The charge was not inquired into by the Magistrate, on theground of the complainant’s absence on the day fixed for the
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inquiry. The complainant being absent on the day fixed, theaccused was discharged, and the Magistrate recorded the opinionthat it was a matter which should be decided by a Civil Court.
By or against whom an action should be brought the Magistratedid not indicate, nor did he indicate what he thought the cause ofaction should be.
The order discharging the accused was made on the 11thNovember. On the 27th of that month the petitioner applied tothe Magistrate for an order to have the proceeds sale of the teapaid to him. The Magistrate refused to make this order in thesewords : “ Certainly not; the money will remain in deposit pending“ the result of a civil action.”
In making this order the Magistrate should have stated thesection of the Code or law under which he decided to keep themoney in deposit. In forwarding this case to be dealt with inrevision the Magistrate gave no additional reason for the ordercomplained of.
Unless he was acting under chapter XL. of the Ciriminal Proce-dure Code, I do not know by what law he governed himself. Thatchapter does not seem, however, to me to apply to the presentcircumstances.
Section 478 of the Criminal Procedure Code enacts that when aninquiry or trial in any Criminal Court is concluded, the Courtmay make such order as it thinks fit for the disposal of any docu-ment or other property produced before it, regarding which anyoffence .appears to have been committed, or which has been usedfor the commission of any offence.
So far from the inquiry into this charge having been concluded,the inquiry was not proceeded with, because in the Magistrate’s’ opinion the accused, had committed no offence with regard to thetea which was sold, nor does'the accused himself claim to be theowner of the tea claimed or the proceeds.
I understand his case to be that, as the complainant’s agent ofthe estate above-mentioned, he consigned this tea to certain creditorsof the estate in liquidation of claims which they had againstthe estate. This tea apparently did not reach the creditors.It was stopped by the complainant after he lodged his complaint,and he is now asking to have the proceeds delivered to him. Asat present advised, I do not see why this application should not beallowed. I am not satisfied that the Magistrate had the power todetain the proceeds pending the result of some civil action.
I must therefore discharge the order in revision and direct theMagistrate to place the complainant in possession of the moneyin deposit.
KATHA v. MEERA