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Present : Wood Benton J-VELUPILLAI v. CASIPILLAI.
503—P. C. Jaffna, 6,705.
Frivolous and vexatious charge—Order to pay Crown costs and compensation—Allthe witnesses for the complainant not called—Criminal Procedure Code,8. 197.
There is nothing in section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code whicheither expressly or by necessary implication requires a Police Magistrate tohear every witness whom a complainant may desire to call before exercisingthe powers with which the section has invested him.
A-charge that is deliberately false is “vexatious" within the meaningof section 197.
fJiHE facts are set out in the judgment.
Joseph, for complainant, appellant.—The order of . the learnedPolice Magistrate is irregular. The complainant's case was notclosed, and the Magistrate had no power to order him to pay Crowncosts and compensation before all his witnesses were called. SuppaNayakka v. Kawwa; P. C. Kurunegala, 10.764.2
The complaint is not a vexatious one. A vexatious complaint isone that is brought without cause or for a matter so trivial thatno person of ordinary sense or temper would complain of it withintent to harass the person complained of (De. Silva v. Mammadu3).Here the charge against the accused discloses serious offences.
July 22, 1912. Wood Renton J.—
This is an appeal against a conviction under section 197 of the•Criminal Procedure Code. The appellant charged one NannitambyCasipillai with having voluntarily caused hurt to him, an offencepunishable under section 314 of the Penal Code. The appellanthimself gave evidence, and at the close of his evidence called anotherwitness, who was duly examined. The learned Police Magistrateregarded the evidence of both the appellant and this witness asentirely false. He convicted the witness, under section 440 of theCriminal Procedure Code, of having given false evidence, and finedhinn Rg. 50, sentencing him in default of payment of the fine toone month’s rigorous imprisonment. The learned Magistrate then i
i (1899) 1 Tamb. 110.2 (1899) Koch 54.
(1897) 8 N. L. R. 8.
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called upon the appellant to show cause why he should not be finedRs. 5 Crown costs and Rs. 10 compensation for having brought afalse charge against the accused. The appellant apparently had nospecial cause to show, and he was forthwith fined Rs. 5 and orderedto pay Rs. 10 compensation. There is no appeal from the fine ofRs. 5 by way of Crown costs. But the present appeal is broughtagainst the order to pay compensation. The main point urged onthe appellant’s behalf is that the Police Magistrate had no right tomake the order under appeal, inasmuch as the appellant had severalother witnesses whose names were on his list of witnesses, and whowere not, in fact, examined. I do not see anything in the record toshow that an application was made to the Police Magistrate on theappellant’s behalf for leave to. call the additional witnesses. ButI will decide the case on the basis that such an application had beenmade and had been refused. The procedure is defined by section197 of the Criminal Procedure Code. There is nothing in thatsection which either expressly or by necessary implication requiresa Police Magistrate to hear every witness whom a complainant maydesire to call before exercising the powers with which the sectionhas invested him. There are, however, two reported cases in whichit was held by Lawrie J. that an order as to Crown costs and com-pensation is bad if made without examining all the witnesses thatthe complainant undertakes to produce. (See- Suppa Nayakka v.Kawwa 1 and 483—P. C- Kiirunegala, 10,764 2). With the utmostrespect I am unable to follow those decisions, in view of the languageof section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code itself. They appearto me to amount not to a judicial interpretation of that section,but to its amendment by a species of legislation which the law ofthe Colony does not recognize. It is quite easy to put cases inwhich the application of the rule laid down by Lawrie J- in the two-decisions above referred to would yield absurd results. Supposethat a complainant filed a list of ten or fifteen witnesses; that thecomplainant himself and three or four of his witnesses broke downcompletely in the course of cross-examination; and that it was'obvious to the Judge and to every one who was present at theproceedings that, even although there might be other witnesses onthe list who might give more reliable evidence on incidental points,not only would it be absolutely unjust to convict the accused inview' of the character of the evidence already given, but the chargeitself was false. Can it really be said to be a reasonable interpreta-tion of the law that under such circumstances a Court should bebound to hear all the remaining witnesses before it could punish acomplainant who had already made it abundantly clear that thecharge that he came into Court to prefer was unfounded? It is onlynecessary to put the proposition in that way to show that the twoabove-mentioned decisions by Lawrie J. do not constitute a good
(1899) 1 Tarnb. 110.
1 U899) Koch. 54.
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1918. working interpretation of section 197 of the Criminal ProcedureWoosCode. It is clear, I think, that each case should be decided on its
Renton J. own circumstances. In my opinion the circumstances here areVdupittai v. sufficient to justify the action which the Police Magistrate hasCasipittai taksn. He heard the evidence of both the complainant and hisfirst witness; he was satisfied that the evidence of both was false,and that the charge itself was false too; and he has recorded anincident which strongly corroborates the conclusion at which hearrived. “ If complainant’s demeanour had not been enough, Ishould have been convinced when his witness came into the boxand complainant deliberately prompted him before he could bestopped,” to make a certain statement in support of the case forthe prosecution. An incident of that kind occurring before a Judgeand jury would in most cases have led to an immediate acquittal.It is entitled to great weight in considering whether or not thePolice Magistrate has correctly exercised the powers conferred uponhim by section 197 of the Code. The only other point taken bythe appellant’s counsel was that the charge had not been shown tobe vexatious. In support of that contention he referred to thedecision of Withers J- in De Silva v, Mammadu.1 But that decision,in my opinion, does not in any way support the inference sought tobe deduced from it. Withers J. expressly held in that case that a.'complaint is vexatious where it is brought without cause. We havlhere a finding by the Police Magistrate, based upon ample evidence,that the charge brought by the complainant in the Police Court wasdeliberately false," and that charge was, therefore, “vexatious”within the meaning of that term as defined in De Silva v. Mammadu.*The appeal is dismissed.
> (1897) 3 N. L. A. 8.
VELUPILLAI v. CASIPILLAI