Nikulas v. Linus (Abdul Cader, J.)
Nikulas and others v. Linus
COURT OF APPEAL.
ABDUL CADER, J. AND ATUKORALE, J.
ca (s.c.) 475-479/76—m.c. wattala 850.
OCTOBER 19, 1978.
Criminal Procedure Code, section 186 (2)—Requirement that verdictshould be recorded within 24 hours of conclusion of evidence—Whethermandatory.
That the requirement in section 186(2) of the Criminal Procedure Codethat a verdict must be recorded by the Magistrate not later than 24 hoursafter the conclusion of the taking of evidence is mandatory. There isnothing inconsistent between the right of defence Counsel to address atthe conclusion of the evidence and this 24 hour limit enforced by thelaw.
APPEAL from the Magistrate’s Court, Wattala.
A. Ratnayake, with P. Samararatne, for the appellants.
D. W. Abeykoon, with Miss G. Rajapakse, for the respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
November 10, 1978.
ABDUL CADER, J.
According to the proceedings of 7.8.75, evidence for the defencewas closed. The next minute made is ‘addresses on 12.9.75.’(According to the journal, an opportunity for addresses wasgranted because there was an application by defence Counsel.But since there was no time, it was postponed for 12.9.75.) On12.9 75, Counsel for the accused addressed quite at length and itbeing 3.45 p.m. a further date was given for addresses on 30.9.75.Counsel for the accused continued to address on that date againat length. Counsel for the complainant had addressed thereafterand the Magistrate had delivered his verdict on the same day.
Sri Lanka Law Reporis (1978-79) 2 S.L.R.
Counsel for the accused-appellants has now drawn our atten-tion to section 186(2) which runs as follows ; —
“ The verdict shall be recorded not later than twenty-fourhours after the conclusion of the taking of evidence, and thereasons for the verdict shall be recorded not later than four-teen days after recording the verdict. ”
He contends that in this case, although evidence was concludedon 7.8.75 the verdict was given only on 30.9.75 and, therefore, theverdict is illegal. Several decisions of this Court have been citedto us and with respect we are in agreement with those judge-ments to the effect that the 24-hour limit is mandatory.
Counsel for the complainant urged that since it is a funda-mental right of the accused to be heard after evidence is conclud-ed before a verdict is returned, the 24-hour rule should be modi-fied especially when it 'is the defence Counsel who has taken allthe time between the conclusion of the evidence and the returnof the verdict. I do not think there is anything inconsistentbetween the right of defence Counsel to address and the 24-hourlimit enforced by the law. All that the Magistrate undex" thecircumstances should have done was to limit the address of theCounsel to a specific period of time so as to give himself anopportunity to return his verdict within 24 hours. This verdictand sentence have to be set aside as illegal.
The only other matter for consideration is whether this caseshould be sent back for retrial. This was a private plaint filed on22nd March, 1974, in respect of several offences alleged to havebeen committed on 6th February, 1974, over 4 years ago. All theaccused have been acquitted in respect of the more serious chargeof theft of a wristlet and the penalty imposed on the other countswere fines of Rs. 20, Rs. 10, Rs. 10 and warned and discharged.Counsel for the appellants also pointed to the fact that the Magis-trate had rejected the evidence of the complainant that he didnot use a bottle in the course of the fight and to that extent theevidence of the complainant was discredited. The proceedingstook over 1J years. •
Taking into consideration all these circumstances, we do notthink this is a case in which we should order a retrial. We,therefore, acquit the accused on all counts.
ATUKORALE, J.—I agree.