( • 124 )
Present: Lyall Grant J.
KING v. MARTIN.18—P. C. Tangalla, 22,795. '
Verdict of jury—Application to amend—When a mistaken verdict maybe corrected—Criminal Procedure Code, s. 249 (3).
Where application was made to the Judge at a trial before theSupreme Court, the day after the verdict of a jury was delivered,to question the jury in order to ascertain what the verdict was,—
Held, that under section 249 (3) a verdict can be amended onlybefore or immediately after the verdict is recorded, i.e., beforethe jurors have left the Court and while they are still under theobservance of the presiding Judge.
PPLICATION to amend the verdict returned by a' jury at atrial before the Supreme Court Criminal Sessions at Galle.
Wickremenwyake, for accused.
Basnayake, C.C., for the Crown.
June 19, 1929. Lyall Grant J.—
Counsel for the prisoner in this case represents that a mistakehas happened in regard to the verdict of guilty on the secondcount, that is guilty of causing death by a negligent act, and thatthe jury did not intend to return this verdict. Section 249 of theCriminal Procedure Code provides that when by accident or mistakea wrong verdict is delivered the jury may before it is signed orimmediately thereafter amend the verdict. The verdict returnedby the jury yesterday was one of guilty on the second count,
■ but apparently the foreman added the words, though -I did notcatch them, “ not guilty of gross negligence.” The verdict wasentered by the Registrar as one of guilty on the second count, viz.,causing death by a negligent act. This verdict was read out tothe jury. None of them took exception to it and it was-signed bythe foreman. Immediately thereafter counsel for the defenceaddressed me suggesting that the verdict was mistaken and wasnot the verdict intended by the jury. I thereupon explained tothe jury again that criminal negligence meant “ gross negligence,”a fact which I had made very plain in my original summing up,and- asked them whether they meant to return a verdict attributingto the accused " gross negligence.” The foreman consulted the
; ( .125 )
jurymen in my presence and said that their intention wag to bringin a verdict of " gross negligence/' By their silence the otherjurymen who had discussed the matter with the foreman agreed.Counsel for the accused then addressed the Court in mitigation of-sentence.
Sentence was reserved for the following day, to-day, and theCourt was adjourned.
I am now asked to reopen the question and again to ask thejury what verdict was intended. The law provides that .the verdictmay be amended by the jury either before it ia signed or imme-diately . thereafter, but I do not think that this provision can beextended to enable me on the following day to recall the jury andagain to ask them what they meant by their verdict. It is possiblethat if the Crown were agreeable to such a course I might considerthe question of taking it in order to ensure that no possible mistakehas been made. But that position has not arisen, and I expressno opinion on the question of what the Court would do should itarise on another occasion. Crown Counsel, as he is quite entitledto do, stands upon the verdict. He represents that the opinionof the jurynow, after ithasdispersed, may not bethe same as
the opinionof the jurybefore it dispersed.Thesection only
allows the verdict to be altered if the mistake is immediatelybrought tothe notice ofthejury, I find inthecomments to
section 304of the IndianActgiven in Sohoni'sCode of Criminal
Procedure that the law is set forth as follows:—“ The section foran amendment of a wrong verdict delivered by accident or mistakeclearly contemplates that such a ~erdict is amended only beforeor immediately after it is recorded; in other words, before the jurorshave left the Court and while they are still under the observanceof the presiding Judge. And the reason for this restriction isobvious, for once the jurors have left the Court they are liable tooutside influence, and it. would be in the highest degree dangerousthereafter to accept statements to modify the verdict.” I agreewith this interpretation of the section and I feel' that it is notwithin my power to reopen the matter. The verdict of guilty,which was inquired into at the time, must stand.