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Present: Garvin J.
MENDI3 v, ZOYSA.
597—P. C. Balapitiya, 6,447,
Village Tribunal—Jurisdiction to try offence under s. 315 of the PenalCode—Ordinance No, 9 of 1924.
A Village Tribunal has no jurisdiction to try an offence undersection 315 of the Penal Code.
A PPEAL by the complainant from an order of the PoliceMagistrate of Balapitiya referring his complaint to theVillage Tribunal.
Zoysa, for appellant.
October 27, 1925. Gabvin J.—
This is an appeal by the complainant from an order of the PoliceMagistrate referring his complaint in the first instance to theVillage Tribunal. The evidence shows that the complainanthad been the victim of a very severe assault, and that this assaultwas committed with an oar. He had a contused wound 2 incheslong, going down to bone on the left side of his head, which necessi-tated his entering hospital and remaining there for a period ofnineteen days. Except in the technical sense the complainanthas been grievously injured. These facts disclose an offencepunishable under section 315 of the Penal Code, for the weaponwith which the injury was inflicted was one which, when used asa weapon of offence, was likely to cause death. The question,however, arises whether even upon this assumption the order ofthe Police Magistrate is not a correct one. The jurisdiction of theVillage Tribunal is exclusive, and if offences punishable undersection 315 are within the jurisdiction of the Village Tribunal,then this case must be referred to that Tribunal for trial. TheVillage Communities Ordinance, No. 9 of 1924, in setting out thelimits of the criminal jurisdiction of Village Tribunals declares thatit shall extend to the trial of all offences enumerated in the scheduleto the Ordinance, and that schedule includes the offence of volun-tarily causing hurt as defined by section 312. It is contendedthat the specific mention of section 312 must be held to excludesection 315 which is treated in the Penal Code as a distinct and
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specific offence. There is another possible view. Section 312 isa definition section. It defines the offence of voluntarily causinghurt. That offence is made punishable by two sections, one issection 314 and the other is section 315.' The higher punishmentprescribed by section 315 is designed to meet the case where alethal weapon is used in committing the offence. The lesserpunishment prescribed by section 314 is to meet cases in whichthe weapon does not fall within that, category. The questionfor decision is which of these two views is the correct one. Thereis nothing in the provisions of the Village Communities Ordinanceof 1924, which is of itself decisive of the question, nor is there any-thing in the Penal Code which can confidently be made the basisof a decision. In these circumstances one must have regard to .the history of the legislation on the point. The Village Com-munities Ordinance, No. 24 of 1889, which was superseded by theOrdinance now in force, gave the Village Tribunal a similar juris-diction in almost identically the same terms, but subject totheimportant qualification that “ the offence is of such a nature thatit may be adequately punished by no higher punishment than afine of Rs. 20.” These words exclude from the jurisdiction ofVillage Tribunals any offence which fairly comes within the provi-sions of section 315, and indeed a very considerable portion of theoffences punishable under section 314 as well. These qualifyingwords do not appear in the new Ordinance. Was it intended bythe omission to enlarge the jurisdiction of Village Tribunals so asto include the offence punishable under section 315 ? Had thisbeen the purpose of the Legislature it would have been reasonableto expect a corresponding increase in the powers of punishmentof Village Tribunals. The object was, I think, a different one.Before the repeal of Ordinance No. 24 of 1889 much uncertaintyprevailed as to the Court to which resort should be had, in the firstinstance, in cases falling under section 314, which it was thoughtcould not adequately be punished by a Village Tribunal. Thisuncertainty gave rise to much inconvenience. Under the newOrdinance there is no such uncertainty. All offences under section314 which are in other respects triable by Village Tribunals mustbe instituted in the Village Tribunal and not in the PoliceCourt.
This, it seems to me, was the purpose of the amendment andnot any desire of the Legislature to extend the jurisdiction ofVillage Tribunals to try offences under section 315.
The question is a difficult one, but I do not think that anyintention to enlarge the jurisdiction of Village Tribunals to theexclusion of the ordinary Police Courts can fairly be gatheredfrom the language of the legislation bearing on the point. For
these reasons, I think, that this case which discloses an offenceunder section 315 should be tried by a Police Court and not bya Village Tribunal.
The order of the Magistrate referring it to the Village Tribunal isset aside, and the case sent back to the Magistrate to be tried anddisposed of in due course.
Set aside ; case remitted.
MENDIS v. ZOYSA