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Present: De Sampayo J.WICKRAMASURIYA v. GUNARATNE.
776—.P. C. Kalutara, 44,552.
Housing and Town Improvement Ordinance, No. 19 of 1915, s. 15 (I)—Allowing a building constructed in part before the Ordinance cameinto force to be occupied before obtaining a certificate.
The accused obtained permission under the Local Boards Ordi-nance, 1898, for the erection of a block of buildings, and partlycompleted the same before the coming into operation of the Housingand Town Improvement Ordinance, 1915. He was charged withhaving allowed the building to be occupied without obtaining acertificate from the Chairman, as provided by section 15 (1) of theOrdinance.
Held, that section 15(1) did not apply to such a building, and
that the conviction was bad.
rji HE facts are set out in the judgment.
Weeraratne, for accused, appellant.—Section 15 of OrdinanceNo. 19 of 1915 applies only to buildings constructed under thatOrdinance. The Ordinance does not have any retrospective effect.Sanction for building was given under the Local Boards Ordinancebefore the Housing Ordinance came into force. All the conditionsattached to that permission for building were complied with. Nooffence was committed by accused occupying the house without thecertificate of the Chairman.
Gut. adv. vult.
September 28, 1917. De Sampayo J.—
This appeal involves the question of construction of section 15 (1)of the Housing and Town Improvement Ordinance, No. 19 of 1915,which came into operation on December 1, 1915. The Inspectorof the Local Board of Kalutara charged the accused with havingon July 7, 1917, allowed ai new building to be occupied withoutobtaining a certificate from the Chairman as provided in that sub-section. The accused appeals from a conviction.
The building consists of a row of five rooms capable of separateoccupation. In 1914 the accused obtained permission to erect itfrom the Chairman, under the provisions of the Local Board Ordi-nance, 1898. The building operations were soon begun, and twoof the rooms appear to have been completed and occupied by
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tenants in 1915, before the Housing and Town ImprovementOrdinance came into operation. But the remaining three roomswere finished later, and were oooupied in April this year withoutany certificate from the Chairman, and, as I understand the PoliceMagistrate’s judgment, the accused is considered to have committeda breach of the Ordinance in respect of these three rooms, as he hasallowed them to be oooupied without a certificate from the Chairman.
The question is whether this sub-section is applicable to the case.It runs as follows: “ No building constructed after the commence-ment of this Ordinance shall be occupied, except by a caretaker, untilthe Chairman has given a certificate that suoh building as regardsconstruction, drainage, and in all other respects is in accordance withlaw.’* Sub-section (3) penalizes a person who occupies or allowsto be occupied any building in contravention of this provision.Now, what does “ constructed " mean in the connection in which itocours? Does it apply to buildings authorized under the previouslyexisting law, though completed only after the new Ordinance cameinto operation? Section 15 is one of a group of sections consti-tuting a chapter relating to buildings. The main provisions of thesesections are that no person shall erect any building except inaccordance with plans and specifications approved by the Chairman(section 5); the Chairman is not to approve any plan or specificationwhich causes the building to conflict with the provisions of thator any other Ordinance (section 7); no person shall commence anybuilding operations unless he has given seven days' notice of hisintention to do so to the Chairman (section 10); and finally, nobuilding shall be oooupied without a certificate from the Chairman(section 15). This chapter contains an entire scheme with regardto buildings, and all the sections must be read together. Thereason for the requirement of section 15 (1) is obvious, for though theplans and specifications may have been approved, the actual buildingmay not be in accordance with them, and so power is given to theChairman to satisfy himself on the point before the building isallowed to be occupied. The word “constructed" is somewhatambiguous. But it is a primary rule that a thing which is withinthe letter of a statute is not within the statute unless it be alsowithin the real intention of the Legislature, and words must beconstrued in the sense which is more in harmony with that intention.Every section of a statute should be construed with reference tothe context and to the other sections, so as to make a consistentenactment of the whole statute. This rule of construction may beillustrated by many examples, but I think it is interesting to noteone which is concerned with buildings. A section of 25 and 26Viet. c. 102 enacted that if “ any building " projecting beyond thegeneral line of the street was pulled down the Board of Worksmight order it to be set back, and the next section enacted that” no building " should be erected in any street beyond the general
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line without the consent of the Board. The latter section, takenby itseli, would have included buildings whether on new sites orold; but it was held that it must be read with the previous section,and that it was confined to buildings erected on new and hithertovacant ground. Lord Auckland «. Westminster Board of Works;1Wendon v. London County Council.* Accordingly, I think section15 (1) of the Ordinance in question is confined to buildings “ con-structed ” under the provisions of the previous sections of the samechapter, and is inapplicable to buildings to which the latter sectionsdid not apply. The accused had, as already stated, obtainedpermission under the Local Boards Ordinance, 1898, for theerection of the whole block of buildings, and partly completed thesame before the coming into operation of the Housing and TownImprovement Ordinance, 1915, and, in my opinion, the responsibilityof the accused in respect of the occupation of the buildings cannot,be regulated by the latter Ordinance.
For these reasons I think the conviction is erroneous in point oflaw. It is therefore set aside.
1L.B.7 Ch. 597.
* (1894) IQ B. 812.