Bewasiliyan age v. Police.
HEWASLLIYANAGE, Appellant, and POLICE, Respondent.
874—M. C. Hatton, 8,346.
Control of Prices—Sale of potatoes—Food Price Order No. C, 25 of 1944 isapplicable to Ceylon-grown potatoes—Control of Prices Ordinance,No. 39 of 1939, s. 5.
The prices of not only imported but also locally grown potatoes are'controlled by Food Price Order, No. C. 25 of 1944.
PPEAL against a conviction from the Magistrate’s Court, Hatton.
H. V. Perera, K'.C. (with him G. P. J. Kurukulasuriya and Conrad Dias),for the accused, appellant.
J.G. T. Weeraratne, C.C., for the complainant, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
3 (1940) 47 N. L. R. 136.
SOSDIAS J.—Heieaeiiiyartage v. Police.
October 23, 1946. T)tab J.—
The accused was charged with having on March 23, 1946, at Nortonin the Hatton District sold one pound of potatoes to Mrs. Drury tor Re. l'OOwhich was a price in excess of the controlled price which was 29 cents perpound. This charge was laid under section 5 of Ordinance No. 39 of 1939.The controlled prices are to be found in the order made undersection 3 of the Ordinance and published in Gazette No. 9,267 dated May6, 1944. It is not in dispute that the controlled price for potatoes is29 cents per pound.
Mr. Perera for the appellant is unable to question the findings of fact ofthe Magistrate. He has however submitted that in law the conviction ofthe appellant cannot stand.
The Gazette contains five columns. The first column specifies the nameof the controlled commodity. Column 2 specifies the Importer’smaximum price per cwt. gros3 to a wholesaler. Column 3 sets out themaximum wholesale price per cwt. gross. Column 4 states the maximumwholesale price per pound nett. Column 5 specifies the maximum retailprice per pound nett.
Mr. Perera argues that because Column 2 refers to the “ importer’smaximum price ”, therefore that column can only refer to importedcommodities and not to locally grown produce. He says that thereforeColumns 3, 4, and 5 must also necessarily refer to imported articles.In other words, the order in question only applies to imported potatoesand not to locally grown potatoes. Therefore, according to this argument,a man can sell retail locally grown potatoes at any price, even though itexceeds the controlled prices specified in this order. It is submitted that'there being no proof that what the accused sold Mrs. Drury were notlocally grown potatoes, there is a reasonable doubt, and that the accusedmust therefore be acquitted.
I am unable to accede to this argument. The fallacy lies in assumingthat Columns 2, 3, 4, and 5 are interdependent, and that what is con-trolled in Columns 3 to 5 must necessarily mean imported commodities.There is no warrant for such an assumption. I hold that each Column isindependent and that while Column 2 refers to imported things, the othercolumns refer to goods whether imported or locally grown. In myopinion, the point of law fails.
The accused was sentenced to three months’ rigorous imprisonment.The reasons given by the Magistrate for imposing such a sentence are thatthe accused not only charged an exorbitant price for an article of foodbut has also taken up a defiant attitude and that his conduct calls forsevere punishment. Mr. Perera has asked me to consider the question ofsentence, especially as it is the small dealer who is detected and punished,whereas the important profiteers in the black market appear to escapewith impunity. I have carefully considered the matter, but I do not feeldisposed to interfere. Persons like the accused, whether they tradein a big way or otherwise, are a pest to society. Offences like this oneare difficult to detect, and when some person is public-spirited enough
DIAS J.—Podihamy v. Selmon Appu.
to come forward and expose a ease of profiteering, it is the duty of theCourts in the name of society to see that the punishment fits the crime.
I think the sentence is richly deserved.
The appeal is dismissed.