Panditharatne and Koustz.
Present: Kenneman J.
• PANDITHARATNE, Appellant, and KOUSTZ, Respondent.
42—M. C. Colombo, 6130.
Keeping a stock of controlled article—Unglazed newsprint—Store Or otherplace—Control of Prices Regulations, 1942, Reg. 6—Control of PricesOrdinance, s. 5.'
Where a person is charged with breach of regulation -6 of the Control ofPrices Regulations, 1942, which requires “ every person who desires tokeep any stock or quantity of an price-controlled article at any store orother place, which is not a registered store shall furnish to the Controllera return specifying such store or other place ”… .,—-
KEUNEMAN J.—Panditharatne and Koustz.
Held, that the regulation applies to all persons, whether importers orwholesale traders.
Held, also that the words " or other place ” means place in the natureof a store.
Where a Magistrate exercises his discretion in favour of forfeiture ofthe article he must give good reasons.
^PPEAL from a conviction by the Magistrate of Colombo.
J. E. M. Obeyesekere (with him Kadirgamar), for accused, appellant.G. E. Chitty, C.C., for complainant, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
November 10, 1943. Reuneman J.—
In this case the accused was charged- with keeping at Epsom, Avondaleroad, Maradana, which is not a registered store a stock of price-controlledarticle, to wit, 476 reams unglazed newsprint, which is a controlledarticle (see Government Gazette No. 8,957 of June 26, 1942) withoutfurnishing to the Controller a return specifying such store or other place—in breach of Regulation- 6 of the Control of Prices Regulations 1942(see Government Gazette No. 9,019 of October 8, 1942) and thereby havingcommitted an offence under section 5 of the Control of Prices Ordinanceas amended by the Defence (Control of Prices Supplementary Provisions)Regulation, No. 2 (2) (see Defence (Miscellaneous). Regulations, &c.,P. 203).
The accused was convicted and a nominal fine of Rs. 25 was imposedupon him, in view of the fact that the stock of paper worth nearly Rs. 6,000was forfeited. He now appeals both against the conviction and theforfeiture, and has also filed papers in revision.
Regulation 6 runs as follows :■—
“ Every person who desires to keep any stock or quantity of anyprice-controlled article at any store or other place which is not aregistered store, shall furnish to the Controller a return specifyingsuch store or other place, and the Controller may in respect ofsuch store or other place exercise the powers conferred on him byRegulation 5.”
Counsel for the appellant argued that the “ person ” referred to inRegulation 6 is an importer or wholesale trader. He refers to Regulations2, 3, 4, and 5, which specifically apply to importers or wholesale traders,and contends that Regulation 6 -must be regarded as applying to suchpersons. But I think that the failure to make any reference to importersor wholesale traders is significant and intentional, and this view issupported by the language of Regulation 7, which clearly applies to allpersons, whether importers and wholesale traders or not.
Counsel for the appellant further argued that unless a restrictiveinterpretation was applied to Regulation 6, every person who has a verysmall stock or quantity of a price-controlled article in his house would beguilty of an offence unless he furnished a return to the Controller. Hecontended that that was clearly not the intention of the Regulation. Iagree with him that the Regulation was not intended to. have this meaning,for otherwise there would have been no need for Regulation 7. In my
212KEUNEMAN J.—Panditharatne and Koustz.
opinion the words “ at any store or other place which is not a registeredstore ” require emphasis. In the Shorter Oxford English Dictionarythe word “ store ” bears many meanings, but there are only two meaningsWhich may have relevance here. One is “ a place where stores are kept,a warehouse: a storehouse.” The other is “ a place where merchandiseis kept for sale.” But I note that this latter meaning of the word“ store ” arises chiefly in the United States and in the colonies, althoughthe plural form “ stores ” has obtained currency in Great Britain fromabout 1850. As an adjective the word “store” is used as “denoting areceptacle, repository, depot or transport for stores or supplies ”, as in thewords “ storehouse ” or “ storeroom ”.
What is meant by the words “ or other places ”. Clearly this does notmean any kind of place, and Crown Counsel himself conceded that itmeant “ a place in the nature of a store I think this interpretationis correct.
Admittedly the house “ Epsom ” in which the paper was kept was nota registered store, and the paper kept there was price-controlled and noreturn was furnished to the Controller. Can the house “ Epsom ” beregarded as a store or other place .in the nature of a store ?
The evidence of the Police Sub-Inspector is that “ Epsom ” is 'theaccused’s house, which was searched on Decbember 4, 1942. On thatoccasion 476 reams of unglazed newsprint were found, in that house.The accused described himself as a printer, and said that Mr. Andrewas the proprietor of the Lorenz Press and of a paper called “TheTrespasser”, which is a registered paper. As a result of the war, the■circulation of the paper had to be cut, in order to economise in paper.Witness added that “ the paper for the Lorenz Press is stocked in myhouse for the purpose- of economising our paper.” /'
There, are two factors of importance. One is the large quantity ofpaper kept at the accused’s house. The other is the. admission, by the•accused that his house was utilized for the stocking of the paper foreconomical reasons. I think there is sufficient evidence. that the house“Epsom’’can be regarded as a store or other place in the nature of astore. There can be no question, that it is substantially used for storingpaper..
I have come to the Conclusion that the conviction in this case is correct,and the appeal in this respect is dismissed..
The question that remains relates to the forfeiture of the stock of paper.I have examined the reasons given by the. Magistrate for the forfeiture,I am inclined to agree With the comment in the petition of appeal, thatthe Magistrate acted upon the basis that an order of forfeiture should bemade in. every Case, unless the defence satisfied him that such an ordershould hot be made. It is true that Magistrate added that the evidenceip the case disclosed good reasons justifying an order for forfeiture, but hehas not stated what these good reasons are. The reasons examined bythe Magistrate are first the plea of the accused that he only committeda technical offence due to, ignorance of the law. This the Magistrate. rejects: I agree that this is not' a .complete answer to the claim forforfeiture, but it is at least an elernent to be considered. The second reasonconsidered,by the Magistrate is the gravity of the penalties imposed even
JAYETILEKE J.—Karunathillelce and Ameen.
in the case of a first offence. It does not however follow from this thatforfeiture must follow almost as a matter of course. The Magistrate hasto exercise a discretion, and if he exercises his discretion in favour offorfeiture, he must set out good reasons for this, which can be examined,if necessary, in appeal.
The only other reason, “ incidentally ” mentioned, is that in theaccused’s premises sugar and flour were also stocked for the use of arestaurant called Green’s Cafe, belonging to Mr. Andre. But the positionwith regard to the sugar and flour is not clear, and these articlesare not the subject of any charge. The accused said he had apermit for this sugar and flour, and that in his declaration at the time ofpurchase, he declared the premises “ Epsom ” as the place where hewould stock those articles. I do not think this is a point which canfairly be brought against the accused.
I do not think any good reasons have been made out for the forfeiture.There is no suggestion in the case that the paper, or in fact the otherarticles, were brought to the house surrepitiously or with the object ofconcealing them. They may well have been placed there in the ordinarycourse of business, and may have been there1 even prior to the order forthe control of price.
Acting in revision, I set aside the order for forfeiture of the paper inquestion.
The fine imposed by the Magistrate was only the nominal amount ofRs. 25, in view of his further order of forfeiture. In this case I do not.consider this a sufficient penalty. The fine in this case will be increasedto Rs. 250 in default six weeks’ simple imprisonment.