Mahalingam v. The Republic of Sri Lanka
Present: Sirimane, J., Ismail, J. and Ratwatte, J.
P. MAHALINGAM and two others vs. THE REPUBLIC OF
S. C. 95-97/74 H. C. Jaffna 40/74—M. C. Mallakam 16279
Jury—Panel Tamil speaking—Charge by trial Judge in English—Chargenot interpreted into Tamil—Re-trial ordered.
Where the Accused-Appellant had elected to be tried by a Tamilspeaking Jury but the charge to the Jury was in English and wasnot interpreted into Tamil—
SIRIMANTD, J.—Mahalingam v. The Republic of Sri Lanka
Held, : Once an accused elects to be tried by a Tamil speakingJury, it is essential that all proceedings at the trial should be inthe language of the panel, namely Tamil. If there are anyproceedings in any other language, then those proceedings shouldbe interpreted into Tamil.
Appeal against conviction at a trial before the High Court,Jaffna.
V. S. A. Pullenayagam, with C. Motilal Nehru, K. Kanag-Iswaram, S. Mahenthiran and T. Edward Chandran, for theaccused-appellants.
Ranjith Gunatilleke, Senior State Counsel for the Attorney*General.
May 8, 1975. Sibimane, J.
The three appellants in this case were indicted with committingmurder and on their being found guilty by a 5 : 2 verdict of theJury were sentenced to death.
Learned counsel for the appellants complains that theappellants had elected to be tried by a Tamil Speaking Jury. Hesubmits that though the proceedings were in Tamil, the chargeto the Jury was in English and was not interpreted into Tamil.
Once an accused elects to be tried by a Tamil speaking Jury,it is essential that all proceedings had at that trial should be inthe language of the panel—namely—Tamil.
If there are any proceedings in any other language then thoseproceedings should be interpreted into Tamil. Learned counselfor the State concedes that the charge in this case has not beeninterpreted into Tamil. He therefore, does not oppose the sub-missions made by learned counsel for the appellants.
In these circumstances, we are of the view that materialprejudice would have been caused to the appellants by all theproceedings not being interpreted into the language of the panel.
We therefore quash the convictions and sentences and send thecase back for a re-trial.
Ismail, J.—I agree.Ratwatte, J.—I agree.
Case sent back for re-trial.
P. MAHALINGAM and two others vs. THE REPUBLIC OF SRILANKA