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BALTHAZAR v. GUNAWARDANA.P. G., Galle, 17,318.
Penal Code, s. 199—Intentional omission to give information of offence—Crimi-nal Procedure Code, ». 24—Duty of police officer—Mistake—Punish-ment.
Where a headman, who had received information that A hadcommitted rape on B, omitted to inform the nearest Police Magistrateof the same, and it appeared that such omission was due to tho beliefthat, as the parties were willing to settle the matter by marriage so asto avoid the disgrace of a public exposure, he was not bound to commu-nicate the information,—
Held, the offence of the headman was, in the circumstances, com-mitted under a mistake as to his duty, and that his punishment shouldbe therefore nominal.
The facts of this case appear in the judgment of the SupremeCourt.
Domhorst and Alwis, for defendant appellant.
26th July, 1895. BON8ER, C.J.—
The appellant in this case haB been found guilty of “ omitting“ to give information he was legally bound to give ” under section199 of the Penal Code, and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 50, or indefault of payment to undergo six weeks’ rigorous imprisonment.There is evidence that it is the duty of the appellant, as a policeofficer, to give information to the nearest Police Magistrate ofevery offence that is provided by section 24 of the CriminalProcedure Code. The offence as to which this appellant omittedto give information was rape. It appears that the young woman
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complained to the Mudaliyar, who is the superior of the policeofficer, that she had been ravished by her cousin Janis. TheMudaliyar had the young man arrested and sent him to theappellant to deal with the case. The parties were evidentlywilling to settle the matter by the very natural method of theyoung man marrying the young woman. The Mudaliyar saidthat he could not allow an amicable settlement. Then they go tothe house of the young woman, a sort of conference is held,and the relations being willing to settle the matter by the youngman marrying the girl, notice of an intended marriage betweenthe parties is accordingly given to the Registrar on the same day.However, before the day, Janis absconded, and thereupon theseproceedings were taken against the appellant for not reportingthe information he had received to the nearest Police Magistrate.There is no doubt that the appellant did receive information ofthe alleged rape, because the evidence shows that the girl didmake a complaint to him that she had been ravished, and thatthe overtures for a settlement were made in his presence. It isadmitted that no report was made; but I think, under the circum-stances, the parties being willing to settle, to avoid the disgraceof a public exposure of the young woman’s shame, that theappellant might have reasonably believed that he was not boundto report the matter. At the same time, the law iB clear that heought to have made a report.
The Magistrate has sentenced the appellant to pay a fine ofRs. 50, or in default of payment to undergo six weeks’ rigorousimprisonment. The offence under the circumstances was atechnical ofi'ence, and I think that a nominal fine of Re. 1 willmeet the justice of the case.
It must not be understood that I shall regard with leniency acase in which crime has been deliberately suppressed. ThisCourt will visit with severity any case of deliberate suppressionof information as to crime. The present case I consider is onein which the appellant made a mistake as to his duty.
BALTHAZAR v. GUNAWARDANA