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Present: Loos A.J.GOONETILLEKE v. DIAS.
93—P. C. Matugama, 729.
Rubber Thefts Ordinance, No. 21 of 1906, s. 8 (Vf— Vendor known to
licensed dealer by sight only—“ Personally known."
Accused, a licensed ' dealer in rubber, was charged, under section8(6) of Ordinance No. 21 of 1908, with having purchased rubber
from a person who was not “ personally known" to him. TheMagistrate held that the words " personally known ” meant, notonly knowledge of a person by sight, but by name also, andconvicted the accused, as he knew the vendor only by sight.
Held, that knowledge of the vendor by sight was not a sufficientpersonal knowledge for the purposes of section 8 (6) of OrdinanceNo. 21 of 1908.
“ Much more than the knowledge of the name by which a personis known and a knowledge of him by eight is necessary for thepurposes of section 8 (6) of Ordinance No. 21 of 1908. ”
rjiHE facts appear from the judgment.
A. St. V. Jayawardene, for accused, appellant.
Garvin, S.-G. (with him iDias, G.C.), for complainant, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
April 10, 1919. Loos A.J.—
The accused-appellant, who is a licensed rubber dealer, has beenconvicted, under Ordinance No. 21 of 1908, as amended by OrdinanceNo. 39 of 1917, of the offence-of purchasing a quantity of rubberfrom a person who is not personally known to him.
The point for consideration is as to the interpretation to beplaced on the words “ personally known ” in section 8 (b) of theOrdinance No. 21 of 1908. The learned Magistrate is of opinionthat the words mean, not only knowledge of a person by sight, butby name also.
In the present case the accused-appellant admitted that he didnot know the name of the vendor of the rubber at the time of thepurchase, but stated that he had known him by sight, and that hewas a relative of the man Sinno Appu, whose boutique was oppositeto his own boutique, and it was contended on -iis behalf that thatconstituted a sufficient personal knowledge of the vendor for thepurposes of that section of the Ordinance.
The vendor of the rubber to the accused-appellant signed thedeclaration B required by the Ordinance No. 17 of 1919, at thetime of the sale under the name of Govinitantrige Joronis, and
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itoe.declared himself to be the owner of the rubber. Govinitantrige
—Joronis was called as a witness, and denied the sale of the rubber
T aao A T*
' to the appellant, and also that the declaration B bore his signature.
QoonetOUke The declaration B was apparently signed as a witness.by K. Handye. Dias Sinno, the manager of the boutique of Sinno Appu referred to above,and he stated that he does not know a man called Podi Sinno, butthat the vendor to the accused-appellant is called Joronis, thoughhe is not the witness Govinitantrige Joronis, and that he is arelative of the boutique-keeper Sinno Appu. He also admittedthat he did not know the name of the vendor of the rubber at thetime of the sale, but that he knew him by sight. The boutique-keeper Sinno Appu stated that he has a relative called Podi Sinno,and that he never addressed him as Joronis.
The accused-appellant admittedly did not ask the witnesses to the .declaration B the name of the vendor, but it is probable that if hehad done so, he would have been informed either that his name wasJoronis, or that his name was not known to them. In view of thefact that the vendor was only known to the accused-appellant bysight, his position Would have been a little, though not much, betterif he had asked them for the name of the vendor; it would haveindicated an attempt on his part to gain some knowledge in regardto the vendor.'
I am not prepared, however, to assent entirely to the Magistrate’sinterpretation of the words “ personally known. ” It appears tome that much more than the knowledge of the name by which aperson is known and a knowledge of him by sight is necessary forthe purposes of section 8 (b) of the Ordinance No. 21 of 1908.Merely knowing a Sinhalese villager by sight and by the name he■chooses to go by at the moment will not enable any one to ascertainhis whereabouts if he is wanted, especially if the name is not hisproper one.
It is necessary,' in order to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of°the words “ personally known ” in the section, to consider what theobject and intention of the Legislature were in introducing thelegislation in question, and to give' the words that meaning whichbest harmonizes with' the contexts, and promotes in the fullestmanner the policy and object of the Legislature. Now the policy and-■object of the Legislature in enacting the Ordinance No. 21 of 1908was to prevent thefts of rubber, and in pursuance of that objectstringent provisions have been embodied in the Ordinance in regardto the sale and purchase of rubber, one of them being that it isunlawful for a licensed dealer to purchase rubber from any personwho is not personally known to him.
By that provision I think the Legislature must have intendedthat the purchaser must not purchase, except at his peril, from anyperson who was not personally known to him in the sense that wouldjustify an honest and reasonable belief in him that the vendor was
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a person that he could honestly and lawfully purchase rubber from,and the mere fact that the purchaser knew the vendor by sight andthat he was a relative of some person known to the purchaser wouldbe insufficient to justify such a belief in him. If a purchaser wouldbe justified in purchasing rubber in the circumstances in which theaccused-appellant purchased it in this case, the provisions of theOrdinance would be practically useless.
In the case of special legislation, such as that enacted by theOrdinance No. 21 of 1908, the widest meaning should be attached,if necessary, to the words used, so as effectually to carry out theintention of the Legislature, and in the words of Lord Coke, “ tosuppress the mischief and advance the remedy so that suchan interpretation as that contended for in this case cannot besupported in my opinion.
I would dismiss the appeal.
GOONETILLEKE v. DIAS