In re Aalin Nona
1948Present : Dias J.
In re AS LIN NONA et al.
Elections Order in Council—Perjury—Power of Judge to punish—Powers ofDistrict Judge—Section 78, aub-section (3)—Oaths Ordinance, s. 11.
The powers of an Election. Judge to punish a witness for giving falseevidence are no greater than those of a District Judge under section 11of the Oaths Ordinance, by virtue of section 78 (3) of the ParliamentaryElections Order in Council, 1946.
OllDER made in respect of certain witnesses who gave false evidenceduring the trial of Election Petition No. 13 of 1947 (Election forColombo South Electoral District).
H. C. de Silva, for parties noticed.
DIAS J.—-In re A.slin Nona
August 25, 1948. Dias J.—
After hearing the argument of learned Counsel, I think his constructionof section 78, sub-section 3 of the Order-in-Council is right, althoughit is by no means clear on a reading of the section that the law-giverintended that the Chief Justice or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominatedby the Chief Justice to hear an Election Petition, who are designatedElection Judges, should have punitive powers of summarily punishingwitnesses for flagrant perjury, no greater than a District Judge. Thisis a highly penal enactment and therefore in the case of ambiguity mustbe construed liberally " in favour of the subject. The use of the word“ same ” in the phrase “ shall be subject to the same penalties for thegiving of false evidence ” seems to mean the same penalties for thegiving of false evidence in a District Court.
Under section 11 of the Oaths Ordinance, the powers of a DistrictJudge to punish summarily a false witness for contempt of Court onlyextends to the imposition of a fine of Rs. 50, in default of payment ofsueh fine to two months’ rigorous imprisonment.
In the circumstances, I set aside the orders in regard to these witnesseswhich were made per incuriam and, as most of them have been in custodyfor 24 hours, I think the fairest order to make is to quash the order andto make no further order.
I could, of course, direct the proper authorities to initiate proceedingsagainst these persons for giving false evidence within the meaning ofsection 190 of the Penal Code but, in the circumstances, I do not do that,as the initial order was not in accordance with the section.
Orders set aside.
In re ASLIN NONA et al.