WIJEYEWARDENE J.—Dabrera and Aturugiriya Police.
Present: Wijeyewardene J.DABRERA, Appellant, and ATURUGIRIYA POLICE, Respondent.
134—M. C. Colombo, 5,490.
Control of Prices Regulations, 1942—Reg. 6—Failure to furnish return ofstock of price-controlled article—-Application of regulation.
Where the accused was charged with failing to furnish to the Controllerof Prices, as required by regulation 6 of the Control of Prices Regulations,1942, a return of the stock of a price-controlled article kept by him,—
Held, that the regulation was not restricted to importers or wholesaletraders.
PPEAL from a conviction by the Magistrate of Colombo.
Suntheralingam for accused, appellant.
G. E. Chitty, C.C., for complainant, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
April 13, 1943. Wijeyewardene J.—
The accused is charged with failing to furnish to the Controller ofPrices a return as required by Regulation 6 of the Control of Prices ,Regulations, 1942. Regulation 6 reads :—
“Every person who desires to keep any stock or quantity of anyprice-controlled article at any store or other place which is not aregistered store, shall furnish to the Controller a return specifyingsuch store or other place …. ”
The Counsel for the accused-appellant, argued that the words “Everyperson ” in Regulation 6 should be given a restrictive interpretation soas to include only the “ importers or wholesale traders ” referred to inthe earlier Regulations. He said that if the words were given theirordinary meaning, then such a construction would lead to results thatcould not have -been contemplated by 'the Legislature, as, for instance,the prosecution and conviction of any householder who kept half a poundof sugar for his use.
Now the draftsman used the words “importer or wholesale trader” inRegulations 2, 3, 4 and 5 but when he came to Regulation 6, he refrainedfrom using those words and adopted instead the words “ every person ”.The Legislature could not, therefore, have intended that the words“ every person ” should convey the same meaning as the words“ importer or wholesale trader ”. In fact an examination of the variousRegulations shews that Regulations 2, 3,. 4, and 5 form a group applicableto a restricted class of persons while Regulation 6 stands apart from thatgroup.(
I am unable to agree with the contention that by giving the words“ every person ” their natural meaning, the regulation would be madewide enough to bring within its provisions even a householder keeping,for instance, half a pound of sugar for his consumption. Such a conten-tion appears to me to ignore the effect of the words “ stock ” and “ store ”occurring in the Regulation. I may add that I think that the words“ quantity ” and “ place ” in the Regulation are controlled and qualifiedby the words “ stock ” and “ place ” used in conjunction with them.Ah additional reason against such a contention is furnished by Regulation 7.The Legislature, no doubt, intended that the Controller shouldpublish a’ notice under that Regulation specifying the quantity of any
HEARNE J.—Simon and Perera.
price-controlled article that a person .could have “ in his possession orunder his control" without contravening the provisions of Regulation 6.With such a notice in existence, Regulation 6 would not create thesituation referred to by the accused’s counsel even though the words“ every person ” are given this natural meaning. Even if it is open tomake a charge under Regulation 6 against a householder possessing asmall quantity of a price-controlled article, in the absence of such anotice, a Judge will, no doubt, take into consideration all the facts and.circumstances of such a case and pass an appropriate sentence.
The accused in this case kept in a separate room in his house 50 bags ofAustralian flour and 6 bags of white sugar claimed by his witness William.I hold that he has kept a stock of price-controlled articles within themeaning of Regulation 6 and that he has committed an offence byfailing to give the requisite notice to the Controller.
On the evidence led in the case I have no doubt that the accused keptthese articles with him in order to enable William to ask for and obtain alarger supply of flour and sugar than he would have got if the PriceControl Inspector found the stock in question in William’s possession.The learned Magistrate has misdirected himself when he took a lenientview of the accused’s conduct and fined him Rs. 75. This is a case inwhich the Magistrate may very well have passed a sentence of imprison-ment. In any event the fine imposed by the Magistrate is grosslyinadequate.
I affirm the conviction but increase the fine to Rs. 200. In defaultof the payment of the fine, the accused will undergo rigorous imprison-ment for 2 months.