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Present: Jayewardene A. J.
NADAR v. LEON.176—P. C. Colombo, 35,481.
Village Communities—Excepted person—Indian Tamil—Ordinance No. 9of 1924, s. 60.
An Indian trader living temporily in Ceylon is not an exceptedperson within the meaning of section 3 of the Village CommunitiesOrdinance of 1924.
PPEAL from an order of the Police Magistrate of Colombo.
J. 8. Jayewurdene, for complainant, appellant.
May 8, 1928. Jayewardene A.J.—
The complainant S. Doresamy Nadar of Galle road, chargedone Leon of Dehiwala with causing hurt to him on November 19,1927, at 9 p.m. at the complainant’s boutique by striking himwith a piece of firewood, under section 314 of the Peanl Code.The accused pleaded that the Village Tribunal had exclusivejurisdiction and the learned Magistrate upheld his plea. Thecomplainant is an Indian temporarily living in Ceylon, thoughnot bom in Ceylon. He is a boutique-keeper. It was agreedthat the offence, if any, was committed outside the Municipal limits.
The Village Communities Ordinance, No. 9 of 1924, enacts thata Village Tribunal shall have jurisdiction to try all offencesenumerated in the Schedule section 55, Head B (5). The first offence,mentioned in the schedule is that of voluntarily causing hurt underthe Penal Code. No Village Tribunal, however, has jurisdiction totry any case' in wbich-any of the parties are excepted persons, unlessall the parties consent thereto in writing (Ordinance No. 9 of 1924),section 60). The question arises whether the complainant is anexcepted person.
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Jayewab-DENE A. J•
Excepted persons are defined in section 3 as meaning personsresident in the Colony, and being (a) persons commonly known asEuropeans, (b) persons commonly known as Burghers, (c) labourersas defined in Ordinance No. 13 of 1889, including any womanor child related to any such labourer or any aged or incapacitatedrelation of any such labourer. The complainant does not come .under any of these categories. A labourer is defined in OrdinanceNo. 13 of 1889 as meaning any labourer and kangany (commonlyknown as Indian coolies) whose name is borne on an estate register,and includes the Muhammadans, commonly known as Tulicans.The complainant’s name is not borne on any estate register. Thecomplainant is thus not an excepted person, and cannot claimthe benefit of section 60, so as to exclude the jurisdiction of theVillage Tribunal. It was argued that under the repealed VillageCommunities Ordinance, No. 24 of 1889, Village Tribunals couldexercise jurisdiction only in cases in which both parties were natives…. and that the complainant cannot be said to be a native
of Ceylon. The word “ natives ” is defined in Ordinance No. 24 oi1889, section 3, as meaning those. resident in the country otherthan persons commonly known as Europeans or Burghers. Thecomplainant is resident in the country, and would not be knownas European or Burgher. He would be comprised within thedefinition even under the Ordinance No. 24 of 1889, and the VillageTribunal would have jurisdiction over him. But the languageof Ordinance No. 9 of 1924 is clear and admits of no doubt, andthe task of interpretation or the need for reference to the earlierOrdinance can hardly be said to arise. Absolute, sententia expositorsnon indiget. Such language best declares, without more, theintention of the lawgiver and is decisive of it (R. v. Hoi-nett *).The Legislature must be intended to mean what it has plainlyexpressed and consequently there is no room for construction(R. v. Banbury2). It is stated in the petition of appeal that theappellant is not conversant with the vernacular, although no suchstatement was made in the Police Court. Section 46 of the VillageCommunities Ordinance provides that the proceedings shall beconducted in the vernacular language, but (subject to the approvalof the Government Agent) the record may be kept in Englishor in the vernacular language at the discretion of the Presidentor of the Committee. The words “ vernacular language ” heremean the language of the locality. Counsel for the appellantargued that it was the intention of the Ordinance to exclude fromthe jurisdiction of the Village Tribunals those ignorant of theparticular vernacular, which is the language of the Court. Whenthe words admit of but one meaning, the Court is not at libertyto speculate on the intention of the Legislature (York and N. Midland
* IT. S. 96.
2 1 A. and E. 142.
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Railway Co.1) Further, the language of the Court need not neces-sarily be the language of the parties to the suit. In India pro-ceedings are conducted in various languages according to section137, Indian Civil Procedure Code, 5 of 1908, and section 336, IndianCode of Criminal Procedure, 5 of 1898, but the knowledge or ignoranceof the language of the Court is not one of the tests of jurisdiction.We ought to appply to this case what has been called the goldenrule of construction, namely, to give to a statute the plain, fair,literal meaning of its words, where we do not see from its scopethat such meaning would be inconsistent or would lead to manifestinjustice (Mattison v. Hart2).
The complainant is not an excepted person under the Ordinance,and the Village Tribunal has jurisdiction over him. The Magistrateis right, and this appeal is dismissed.
NADAR v. LEON