( 173 )
Present: Lascelles C.J.APPUHAMY ARACHCHI u. LANE SINNO-143—P- C. Badulla-Haldummulla, 4,763-
Evidence—Sending person to purchase arrack from person suspected ofQUeitlg dealing in arrack—Evidence of emissary admissible.
Whereanarachchisent a headman togoand purchase arrack
from a person who 'had been suspected of illicitly dealing in arrack—
Held, that theevidence oftheheadmanwas admissible;—but
such evidence ought to be received with caution.
Lascelles C.J.—It is true that the practice of employing anemissarytoprocure evidence of anoffencehasoften been severely
condemned,and there certainlyarecases in. which such . condem-nation ismerited.But thereisa classof offence—and this
belongs to that class—in which evidence of the commission of theoffencecanhardlybe procuredwithoutemploying some such
means as .were used by the arachchi in this caseI agree
that such evidence ought to be received with caution, and that itshould be closely scrutinized. But to hold that such evidence oughtnot tobeadmittedin Courts oflaw wouldbe to deprive the
authoritiesof theirprincipal weapon in securing the observation
of enactments like the Licensing Ordinance.
HIS was an appeal against an acquittal by the Attorney-General-
Walter Pereira, K.C.? S.-G.: for the Crown.
No appearance for the respondent.
AppuhamyArachchi v.heme, Sinno
( 174 )
April S, 1912. Lascelles C.J.—
In this case the Magistrate has dismissed the case on the groundthat he does not believe the evidence, and he has also stronglycondemned the. conduct of the arachchi in sending a headmanto go and purchase arrack from the accused, who had beensuspected of illicitly dealing in arrack. Now, if the Magistrate hadassigned any reason for disbelieving the witnesses, 1 should havebeen reluctant to have interfered with his finding. But no reasonis assigned in his judgment, and it seems to me that it is a seriousmatter to hold that the evidence of all these witnesses is a fabrication.I am by no means satisfied that this is a false case. I cannot see inthe evidence any considerable contradiction or improbability thatwould warrant a finding that the evidence is fabricated.
With regard to the observation of the Magistrate with reference tothe conduct of the arachchi, I am of opinion that he has gone too far.It is true that the practice of employing an emissary to procureevidence of an offence has often been severely condemned, and therecertainly are cases in which such condemnation is merited. Butthere is a class of offence—and this belongs to that class—in whichevidence of the commission of the offence can hardly. be procuredwithout employing some such means as were used by the arachchiin this case. It is by no means an uncommon practice here and inEngland and elsewhere for the police authorities to prove illicitsales, or sales in prohibited hours, or sales to prohibited’ persons,by the means adopted in this case. I agree that such evidenceought to be received with caution, and that it should be closelyscrutinized. But to hold that such evidence ought not to be ad-mitted in courts of law would be to deprive the authorities of theirprincipal weapon in securing the observation of enactments like theLicensing Ordinance. I am not prepared to endorse the condem-nation which the Magistrate has passed on the arachchi in this case.I think the acquittal ought to be set aside, and the case should bere-tried before another Magistrate.
APPUHAMY ARACHCHI v. LANE SINNO