Somapala v. The Attorney-General
1961Present: L. B. de Silva, J.K.G. SOMAPALA, Appellant, and THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL,RespondentS. C. 933—M. C. Gampola, 1124
Evidence—Criminal prosecution—Evidence of motive for alleged offence—Admissibility.
In a criminal prosecution, evidence of the bad character of the accused,which is not necessary or relevant to prove the alleged motive for the offence,is inadmissible.
The accused was charged with voluntarily causing hurt to one R. S. Theprosecution led evidence of motive for this offence. R. S. stated that the accusedwas under the impression that he had instigated the Engineer of theCeylon Transport Board to stop the accused’s work. He further stated thataccused’s work was stopped as a result of his attempt to stab the Engineer.
Held, that the evidence was inadmissible.
L. B. DE SILVA, J.—Somapala v. The Attorney-General
Appeal from a judgment of the Magistrate’s Court, Gampola.
A. Abey war dene, with K. Shinya and N. Senanayake, for AccusedAppellant.
M. Hussein, Crown Counsel, for Complainant-Respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
March 14, 1961. L. B. de Silva, J.—
The Accused-Appellant was charged for voluntarily causing hurtto one B. Robert Silva, a driver in the Ceylon Transport Board withhands, punishable under Section 314 of the Ceylon Penal Code. Accusedwas a mechanic employed in the Cejdon Transport Board. He wasfound guilty of the charge and was sentenced to 2 months’ rigorousimprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 50/-. In default of payment ofthe fine, he was sentenced to one month’s rigorous imprisonment.
At the trial, the prosecution led evidence of motive for this offence.Robert Silva stated that the accused was under the impression that hehad instigated the Engineer to stop the accused’s work. He furtherstated that accused’s work was stopped as a result of his attempt to stabthe Engineer of the Ceylon Transport Board.
Clearly the evidence that accused’s work was stopped because heattempted to stab the Engineer of the Ceylon Transport Board was notnecessary or relevant for the purpose of proving the motive that theaccused had against the complainant Robert Silva. The alleged motivethat Accused had against the Complainant was that he suspected that theComplainant was instrumental in having him interdicted from work overanother incident.
Learned Crown Counsel conceded that this evidence was inadmissibleto prove the alleged motive. He argued, however, that no prejudicehas been caused to the accused as the learned Magistrate has not referredto this aspect of the evidence in his reasons for the conviction.
It is quite clear in this case that the Magistrate has taken a veryserious view of the offence of this accused in view of the sentence passedin this case. There is no doubt that he was strongly influenced by theevidence that the accused had previously attempted to stab the C. T. B.Engineer. He commenced his reasons by stating, “ The sooner the CeylonTransport Board gets rid of undesirable people like the accused the betterit is for this establishment ”.
Even if it can be said in this case which I am not prepared to do, thatthe learned Magistrate was in fact not prejudiced against the accusedby this inadmissible evidence of accused’s previous bad character, thisevidence is very likely to prejudice any judge deciding this case.
In re Fernando
In V. Coomaraswamy v. M. Meera Saibo and 5 others1 it was held** It is not suggested that the learned Magistrate was influenced by thesestatements but the accused may very well have gained the impressionthat he was so influenced. It is necessary not only that administrationof justice should be pure but it should be seen to be pure and consideredto be pure ", The case was sent back for a retrial.
In this case I have carefully considered whether this case should besent back for a retrial as the conviction of the accused cannot possiblystand. [His Lordship then discussed the evidence, and continued :—]
Considering the trivial nature of the charge and the nature of theevidence in support of the prosecution case, I do not think that theaccused should be put to the trouble and expense of standing anothertrial in this case.
I accordingly allow the appeal and set aside the conviction and sentenceof the accused and acquit him.
K. G. SOMAPALA, Appellant, and THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL, Respondent