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NARAYENSWAMI v. DEOGU.P. G., Jaffna, 16,127.
Meddling with suitor or witness—Scope and meaning of s. 5 of Ordinance„ No. 11 of 1894.
Under section 5 of Ordinance No. 11 of 1894 “ any person who“ without any lawful excuse attempts by words, signs, or otherwise“ to meddle with any suitor or other person having business in any“ Court ” is guilty of an offence—
Semble, per Lawrie, J., that an attempt to meddle with asuitor or other person having business in any Court, in order to-constitute an offence under this section, must be made “ in aCourtand the section is intended to punish those who by wordsor signs in Court attempt to prompt or to check the utterances ofa man in the witness box.
Observations by Lawrie, J., on the scope and meaning ofsection 5 of Ordinance No. 11 of 1894.
r j facts of the case sufficiently appear in the judgment.
Domhorst, for appellant.
,Our. adv. mitt.
20th February, 1896. Lawexe, J.—
The preamble to the Ordinance No. 11 of 1894 states that it waspassed to check “ the mischief caused by touts and vagrant“ meddling with parties who seek redress in courts of justice,”and the 5th section enacts that ‘-sany person who without lawful“ excuse accosts or attempts by words, signs, or otherwise to meddle“ with any suitor or other person having business in any court,“ shall he guilty of an offence, and be liable on conviction to be
February 18and 20*
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14m. f‘ punished with a fine not exceeding Rs. 100.” This section seemsFebruary 20. me t0 be full of difficulties. What is the meaning ofLawns, 3“ acoost ”? Do& it imply that the person accosted, and the
person accosting, were up to that moment strangers to each other ?Perhaps it does. I. may accoBt a stranger. I speak to an acquain-tance. Then, withih what time of the institution of a suit is asuitor placed, as it were, in “ quarantine ?” How many hoursbefore the action is brought is it an offence to accost him ? Doesthe prohibition last during all the years of a protracted litigation ? 'It is to be noticed that this Ordinance does not limit, the offenceof accosting to a talk relating to the matter of the action. Themere fact of being a suitor seems to invest the man with a certainSanctity. Then, again, is it unlawful to accost a suitor at anyplace in the Colony ? or is it unlawful only in or near the Court ?May a villager in the country about to seek redress at Hulftsdorpbe spoken to by his friends in the village ? May they thenconfuse him. with unprofessional advice ? or does the unlawful-.ness begin when the journey courtwards has commenced ? or is' the offence committed only when the intruding suitor reachesthe . precincts of the Court ? What is a “ lawful excuse ” foraccosting? Will relationship, will old acquaintance, serve as anexcuse ? Is. it a lawful excuse that the accoster is anxious toserve his- friend or employer, Mr. A, the proctor, and to get him' a fee, or that he thinks but meanly of Mr. B, and fears that thesuitor will loose his cause if he employs him ? I cannot,answer these questions. In this case, the accused is charged withhaving, without lawful excuse, meddled with Aram Lazarus,who was a suitor in case No. 16,023, Police Court, Jaffna. This isvery vague. It does not even say that the meddling had any-■ thing to do with the cause, or that the cause was then pending.Prom the context of section 5 it looks as if the attempt by wordsor signs, &c., to meddle must be made “in a Courtthat thesection may be intended to punish those who by words or signsin Court attempt to prompt or to check the utterances of a manin the witness box. In the present case Lazarus, who is said to.have been meddled with, made no complaint. He did notobject to the interference. He says he has known the accusedall his life; that he is his godfather, a person privileged to give"advice. At the most, all that this officious godfather did was torecommend Lazarus to engage the services of one proctor ratherthan those of another proctor. Hence this prosecution. Theproctor who was not employed is the virtual complainant. Icannot hold it proved that the accused committed any offence.I acquit him.
NARAYENSWAMI v. DEOGU