Govindarajah v. Attorney-General
SUPREME COURTFERNANDO, J.
DHEERARATNE, J. ANDPERERA, J.
SC APPEAL NO. 81/94CA NO. HC MCA 302/94MC MT. LAVINIA NO. 79393OCTOBER 06, 1994
Contempt of Court – Summary punishment – Code of Criminal Procedure Act,section 449 (1) – Breach of natural justice – Validity of the conviction.
Immediately after the appellant had given evidence in a criminal case the Magistrateheld that the appellant had given false evidence and proceeded to convict andsentence him forthwith acting under the Judicature Act The High Court attributedthe conviction to section 449 (i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act and upheldthe order.
Whichever provision was applicable it is settled law that the gist of theaccusation should have been made clear to the appellant and he should havebeen given an opportunity to furnish an explanation.
The summary conviction and sentence of the appellant were a clear breachof the principles of natural justice.
Case referred to :
1. Daniel Appuhamy v. The Queen – (1962) 64 NLR 481.
APPEAL from the judgment of the High Court.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri L.R.
K.S. Tillekeratne with Jacob Joseph for appellant.D. Weerasuriya, State Counsel for Attorney-General.
Cur. adv. vult.
Editor’s Note :
Vide Tillekeratne v. Officer in-Charge, Pugoda Police Station (1997) 1 Sri LR 07on the same view.
October 06, 1994FERNANDO, J.
The appellant was a witness at a criminal trial. Immediately after hegave evidence, the learned Magistrate made an order in which heheld that the appellant had given false evidence; stated his reasonsfor that conclusion; and dealt with the appellant for contempt of courtunder the provisions of the Judicature Act. He then sentenced theappellant to 3 months’ rigorous imprisonment. He then acquitted theaccused.
On appeal, the learned High Court Judge considered the Magistrateas having acted under section 449 (1) of the Code of CriminalProcedure Act, and upheld his order, but reduced the sentence.
Whichever provision was applicable, it is settled law that the gistof the accusation against him should have been made clear to theappellant (even though not with the same particularity required in anindictment) and he should have been given an opportunity to furnishan explanation : See Daniel Appuhamy v. The Queen.™
Govindarajah v. Attorney-General (Fernando, J.)
In this case it is common ground that the learned Magistrate neithercommunicated the essence of the accusation to the appellant nor gavehim an opportunity to furnish an explanation; instead, he proceededto convict and sentence him forthwith. This is a clear breach of theprinciples of natural justice.
State Counsel concedes that the order cannot stand. We allowthe appeal and set aside the orders of the High Court and theMagistrate’s Court.
DHEERARATNE, J. – I agree.
PERERA, J. – I agree.
GOVINDARAJAH v. ATTORNEY – GENERAL