NAGALIXGAM J.—Podinona v. James
1948Present : Nagalingam J.
PODINOXA, Applicant, and JAMES, Respondent
S. C. 376—Case stated by Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensationunder section 39 of Ordinance No. 19 of 1934
Workmen’s Compensation—Distress warrant for recovery of sum due~—Seizureby Fiscal—Claim made—Proper procedure—Ordinance—Section 41.
An order for compensation in a sum of Rs. 1,800 was made by the Com-missioner in favour of the applicant against the respondent. For therecovery of this amount a distress warrant was issued to the Fiscalwho seized movable property. A claim to the property was made by athird party and the Fiscal reported the claim to the District Courtwhich refused to investigate the claim.
Meld, that neither .the District Judge nor the Commissioner hadjurisdiction to investigate the claim. The proper procedure in sucha case would be for the Commissioner to stay the sale and refer theparties to a Civil Court having jurisdiction to decide the question of title
CaSE stated by the Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation.
M.21. Kunvarakiilasingham, with E. Perera, for the applicant.
Tennekoon, Croton Counsel, for the Attorney-General, on notice.
Cur. adv. vult.
October 5, 1948. Nagalengam J.—
. This is a case stated by the Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensationunder section 39 of the Ordinance for the opinion of this Court on thefollowing facts :—
An order for compensation in a sum of Rs. 1,800 was made by theCommissioner in favour of the applicant against the respondent. Forthe recovery of this amount the Commissioner, in pursuance of thepowers vested in him by section 41 of the Ordinance, which empowershim to recover the compensation as if it were a fine imposed by a Magis-trate, issued a warrant of distress to the fiscal. The' fiscal effected aseizure of certain movable property, which was claimed by a third,party. The claim was reported by the fiscal to the District Court butthat Court has declined jurisdiction to investigate the claim and hasfurther intimated to the fiscal that no such claim should be referred tothat Court.
In these circumstances, the question that arises for determination isas to whether the order of the District Judge is right, and if so, whetherit is competent to the Commissioner himself to hold an inquiry into theclaim, or if the Commissioner has no powers, what other tribunal should,inquire into the claim.
NAG AX.XNGrAI I J.—Podinona v. James
Though the proceedings under the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinanceare in the nature '6f civil proceedings, insofar as they relate to a determina-tion of the compensation payable, from the moment that the Com-missioner exercises function to make recovery of the compensationawarded, the proceedings become' governed by the Criminal Procedure■Code for section 41 of the Ordinance says,
“ The Commissioner is to proceed to recover the amount of com-pensation as if it were a fine imposed by a Magistrate upon suchperson and for the purpose of such recovery shall have all the powersupon a Magistrate for the recovery of fines imposed by him.”
The power which a Magistrate derives to recover a fine imposed by bimis referable to the provisions of section 312(2) of the Criminal Procedure■Code. A Magistrate is conferred no power under the Criminal Procedure■Code or any other written law for the investigation of a claim that maybe preferred on a seizure effected under a distress warrant issued by him.•Obviously, in the case of a fine which accrues to the State, the fiscal wouldordinarily seize only such property as he would be satisfied was propertybelonging to the offender and would only effect seizure after makingadequate and proper inquiry aided, no doubt, by executive officerswho themselves would have no interest in bringing under seizure propertywhich to their knowledge is not that of the offender. Even so, casesare not wanting where claims have been preferred to property seized forthe recovery of a fine ; but these must be regarded as very exceptional.That may be one reason why the Legislature has provided no machineryfor the investigation of claims in these circumstances by a Magistrate.It may also be that that the Legislature did not consider it feasible that atribunal exercising almost exclusively criminal jurisdiction should besaddled with the determination of civil disputes. I do not, therefore,think that a Commissioner who has only the powers of a Magistratewith regard to this matter can proceed to an investigation of the claim.This is the view taken in India too.1
There is no reported case where the procedure to be followed by aMagistrate in cases of claims to property seized under distress warranthas been set out. To say that it would be necessary to hear the partiesbefore an order could be made determining their rights is elementary.In India, however, under the corresponding provisions of the CriminalProcedure Code, it has been held that the proper procedure is to staythe sale to enable the claimant to establish title to the porperty in acivil Court2. This procedure would enable parties to present theirrespective eases effectually before an adjudication is made in regard totheir rights. This view commends itself to me. It would be entirelyimpracticable for the Commissioner to embark upon an investigation oftitle to the property seized ; this can only be done upon proper pleadingsand upon an observance of the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code andhaving regard to the various systems of jurisprudence governing rights-to property and of persons. The proper tribunal, therefore, would be a
Chitaley : Criminal Procedure Code.
Chitaley: Criminal Procedure Code (1936 ed.) vol. 2, p. 1958.
BASNATAKF, J.—Alles v. M.uthusamy
civil tribunal. It is also a matter of no small importance to bear inmind that in this case the property seized is valued at no less than asum of Rs. 1,800.
The Criminal Procedure Code makes no provision for the reporting ofa claim to the District Court or to any other civil Court. The DistrictJudge was therefore correct in rejecting the claim presented to him.
For the foregoing reasons, I am of opinion that the Commissionershould stay sale and refer, as he shall think fit and proper, either theclaimant or the person in whose favour compensation has been awarded,to establish either the title to the property seized or the right to have theproperty seized and sold, as the case may be, in & civil Court havingjurisdiction in that behalf.
Parties referred to a civil Court.
PODINONA, Applicant, and JAMES, Respondent