SAN SO NT, J.—Leon Singho v. Attorney.General
Sansoni, J.A. V. LEON SINGHO et al., Petitioners, and THE ATTORNEY-
S. G. 476—Application for bail under Section 31 of the CourtsOrdinance in.S. C. 59j M. C. Colombo, 10190A
Bail—Application under section 31 of Courts Ordinance (Cap. 6).
Where, in an application for bail under section 31 of the Courts Ordinance,it was shown by the Crown that the work of the Circuit was so heavy that it wasnot possible for the accused to be brought to trial at either of the two sessionswhich were held after the accused might properly have been tried—
Held, that the Crown failed to show good cause why the accused should notbe admitted to bail.
PPLICATION for bad.
Malcolm Per era, for Petitioners.
E. R. de Fonseka, Crown Counsel, for Attorney-General.
Cur. adv. vult. –
October 30, 1959. Sansoni, J.—
The eight accused in this case have petitioned this Court to admit themto bail on the ground that they have not been brought to trial in spite ofhaving been committed to trial on 6th November 1958. The applicationis made under section 31 of the Courts Ordinance (Cap. 6). To quotethe 'words of Nihill J. in de Mel v. Attorney-General1, in a case where
1 (1940) 47 N. L. JR. 136.
SANSOISTT, J.— Leon Singho v. Attorney General
section 31 is applicable "the burden has shifted from the prisoners to theCrown …. and it is now for the Crown to show good cause whybail should not be accorded to them
Although the commitment was on 6th November 1958, I was informedby Crown Counsel that the brief was received by the Attorney-Generalonly on 9th December 195S, and it was returned to the Magistrate withinstructions which were not complied with until 19th February 1959.The indictment was eventually signed on 15th March 1959 and servedon the accused in March and April 1959.
The 1st Criminal Sessions of the Western Circuit-began on 12th January1959 and concluded on 19th March 1959, and I think it is fair to say thatin the circumstances the accused could not reasonably have expected to bebrought to trial at those sessions. The 2nd Criminal Sessions began on20th March 1959 and ended on Sth July 1959, yet this case was not addedto the calendar because there were already too many cases on it.
The 3rd Criminal Sessions began on 10th July 1959 and ended on 9thOctober 1959. This case was fixed for trial on 15th September 1959,but it was not reached. The 4th Criminal Sessions began on 10th October1959 and are still pending. The trial of this case has been fixed for 17thNovember 1959.
The question I have to consider is whether the Crown has shown goodcause. The only cause that has been offered is that the work of theWestern Circuit is so heavy that it was not possible for the accused to bebrought to trial at either of the two sessions which were held after theymight properly have been tried. This is undoubtedly the cause of thedelay, but I do not consider it to be a good cause for refusing bail. Astage must surely be reached when prisoners on remand could expectthat they should be tried or released on bail. Relying again on theopinion of Nihill J. in the case cited, that "section 31 contains animportant principle safeguarding the liberty of the subject who has aright to be brought to trial with reasonable despatch. ”, I think I shouldbe ignoring this principle if I were to refuse the present application.
The legislature intended, when it enacted section 31, that prisonersshould be brought to trial in the Supreme Court within a reasonabletime after commitment. When there has been undue delay, as therehas been in this case, the prisoners affected should not be denied therelief provided by the section. I would hold that the Crown has notshown good cause in this case, and that the eight petitioners should beadmitted to bail.
I order that each accused may be admitted to bail in a sum of Rs. 10,000.Each bail bond will provide that the accused shall, between his release onbail and the termination of the trial, report himself on the Monday ofevery week at the nearest Police Station; and that the bond shall be subjectto cancellation if the accused communicates with any witness for theprosecution.
A. V. LEON SINGHO et al , Petitioners, and THE ATTONEY-GENERAL, Respondent