NAGALINGAM J.—Kandiah v. D. R. O. of Pallai.
KANDIAH et al., Appellants, and D. R. O. OF PALLA1, Respondent.
S.C. 96—M.C. Ckavakachcheri, 25,649.
Criminal Procedure Code—Non-summary offence—Magistrate assuming jurisdictionas District Judge—Factors which should govern his decision—Section 152 (3).
The simple character of the facts and law involved in a case are not theonly factors which govern the decision as to whether a Magistrate shouldassume jurisdiction as a District Judge under section 152 (3).of the CriminalProcedure Code or not. The serious nature of the charge is in itself an importantfactor which must not be lost sight of.
Appeal from a judgment of the Magistrate, Chavakachcheri.
R. L. Pereira, K.C., with H. W. Tambiah, for the 1st to 8th accused,appellants.
Renganathan, for the 9th accused, appellant.
R. A. Kannangara, Cronin Counsel, for the Attorney-General.
Cur. adv. vult.
June 11, 1948. Nagalingam J.—
The proceedings in this case commenced with a report under section148 (1) (6) of the Criminal Procedure Code complaining that nine personshad committed the offences of being members of an unlawful assembly,rioting, criminal trespass, robbery and mischief. The learned Magistrate,even before hearing any evidence, decided to assume jurisdiction as aDistrict Judge and to try the case summarily. The reason for thecourse adopted by him is set out as that “ the facts are simple and nocomplicated questions of law or of fact are involved On the datefixed for trial Counsel appearing for the defence submitted that non-summary proceedings should be taken in view of the extent of the damagealleged to have been caused and of the value of the property, the subjectof the robbery. The learned Magistrate overruled the objection, statingthat he would give his reasons later. In the course of his judgment thelearned Magistrate observes that it is clear from the evidence that thefacts in this case are extremely simple and that they do not involve anycomplicated question of law.
The Magistrate had to reach the decision as to whether he was goingto assume jurisdiction as a District Judge or not before the conclusionof the trial and not after hearing the entirety of the case. It would havebeen impossible for the learned Magistrate to have made the observation
N AG ALIN GAM J.—Kandiah v. D. R. O. oj Pallai.
that from the evidence disclosed in the case the facts were extremelysimple at the stage at which he decided to assume jurisdiction as a DistrictJudge. ^Furthermore, even on the first date when the Magistrate decidedto try the case summarily there was no material before him exceptingthe written report itself which would have enabled him to reach theconclusion that the facts were simple and involved no complicatedquestions of law. It should, however, be remembered that the simplecharacter of the facts and law involved in a case are not the only factorswhich govern the decision as to whether a Magistrate should assumejurisdiction as a District Judge or not. The serious nature of the chargeis in itself an important factor which must not be lost sight of. Thelearned Magistrate does not seem to have given his mind to this aspect ofthe question. In fact the sentences imposed by him on these nineaccused persons show that he regarded the offences as very grave ones,for he has imposed a term of four years’ rigorous imprisonment in theaggregate on each of the accused persons, this being twice the maximumsentence which a District Court in the exercise of its ordinary jurisdictionis competent to inflict. To my mind the plaint itself disclosed that thecharges were serious ones. There were no less than seven charges and oneof them charged these accused persons with having committed robberyof a sum of Rs. 617. The,offence of robbery is one punishable with aterm of ten years’ rigorous imprisonment, and this circumstance coupledwith the fact that there were no less than nine persons who were chargedwith having been members of an unlawful assembly in prosecution ofthe common object of which the offence of robbery was committed shouldhave made the learned Magistrate hesitate to try the case summarily.
I would, therefore, quash the proceedings in this case and remit thecase for non-summary proceedings to be taken. The fresh proceedingswill be had before another Magistrate.
Sent back for non-summary proceedings.