March 4, 1920. De Sampayo J.—
This is a case in which the accused, Babun Appu, has beencharged with committing a breach of an order of the Deputy FoodController of the Southern Province fixing the maximum price ofrice. The complaint was made by a police sergeant in a written re-port, in which he stated that the accused on December 25, 1919, atHorumogoda, sold rice over the controlled price, to wit, 26 centsa measure. On this summons issued describing the charge in the
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same terms. At the commencement of the proceedings the Magis-trate purported to read the charge from the summons, and at theconclusion of the trial convicted the accused on a charge inthe very same terms. It will be thus noticed that neither thecomplaint, nor the summons, nor the charge embodied in the judg-ment specified any person to whom rice is alleged to have beensold, nor the price above the controlled prices at which acoused isalleged to have sold the rice. An accused person is entitled tohave sufficient particulars stated in the charge which he is oalledupon to meet. In my opinion the charge is wholly defective inthis particular case. The Police Magistrate’s judgment does notadvance the matter, because he does not find that the acousedsold rice at any particular price to any particular person; all thathe says is that he believes the evidence for the prosecution.The only question for me here is whether the conviction . canbe sustained on the ground that the accused was not reallyprejudiced by reason of the defect in the proceedings.
I am not sure that the accused was not prejudiced. Theevidence consisted of the evidence of three witnesses, who eachdeposed to the sale of rice by the accused to him, and none of themhad anything to say as to the sales of rice to the others. It waspointed out in the case of Inspector of Police, Ambalangoda v. Fer-nando 1 that not only was a charge such as that in the present casedefective, but that the evidence of several purchasers of rice in thisway was not properly admissible, for though the charge might bespecific and stated that the accused sold rice to a particularperson, the evidence of other persons to whom other quantitieshad been sold would be irrelevant, and would be prejudicial to theaccused, because the Magistrate, in the circumstances of the case,would necessarily be influenced by the combined effect of theevidence of all the witnesses in regard to a charge relating to one.
I think it right to interfere in this case on the ground of irregularityof proceedings, and send the case back for a proper trial on specificcharges such as may be properly combined, but if they are such asare incapable of being joined, for the trial of the offences separately.
Sent book.
1 6 O. W. B. 296.
Da SakpavoJ.
Mishin v.Babun Appu