Public Trustee v. Ounauxtrdanc
1971Present: Weeramantry, J., and de Kretser,PUBLIC TRUSTEE, Petitioner, and A. D. J. GUNAWARDANE(Chairman, Paddy Lands Board of Review) and 5 others, Respondents
S. 0. 468j67, 738169, 772169, 773169—Application for a Mandate in thenature of Writs of Certiorari and/or Prohibition
Paddy Lands (Amendment) Act, No. 61 of 1061—Section 4—Inquiry held there-under—Whether it can have any effect on a verdict entered previously unders. 21 of original Act.
A landlord who was charged in tho Magistrate’s Court in respect of an allegedoviction by him of his tenants in violation of section 4 (9) of the Poddy LandsAct No. 1 of 1953 was acquitted not upon the facts but upon what amountedto a technicality. Thereafter Act No. 61 of 1961 was passed, and a froshinquiry was hold by the Commissioner in terms of section 4 of that Act. TheCommissioner arrived at a finding that the landlord had evicted the tenantcultivators. His appeal to tho Board of Review failed and, in tho presentapplications for Writs of Certiorari and/or Prohibition, an order was soughtto quash tho orders of tho Commissioner and the Board and also to prohibitfurther proceedings against the landlord.
Held, that section 4 of the amending Act No. 61 of 1961 left unaltered andunaffected tho provisions of section 21 of tho original Act, so -far as tho lawgovoming tho present case at the time of tho event was concerned. Accordingly,inasmuch as tho plea of autrefois acquit would be available to thp landlord, aease was not made out for tho issue of Writs of Certiorari and/or Prohibition.
WEERAMANTRY, J.—Public Trustee v. Ounwsrdaie
APPLICATION for Writs of Certiorari and/or Prohibition.
E. It. S. It. Coomarastmmy, with N. S. A. GoonetUle&e,S. C. B. Walgampxya, P. H. Kurubulasooriya and N. J. Vilcasaim,for the petitioner in each application.
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th respondents absent and unrepresented ineach application.
Shiva Pasupali, Senior Crown Counsel, for the 4th respondent inapplication 468/67.
N.Sinnetamby, Crown Counsel, for the 4th respondent in applications738/69, 772/69 and 773/69.
August 10, 1971. Weebamantby, J.—
There are four matters that have been consolidated for the purposeof this hearing.
In the first of these applications the original petitioner died aftermaking his application to this Court and the Public Trustee wassubstituted in his placo, while in the others the Public Trustee himselfcame into this Court as legal representative of the deceased.
In each of these cases the original petitioner upon the first application,who was the landlord, has been charged in the Magistrate’s Court inrespect of an alleged violation of section 4 (9) of the Paddy Lands ActNo. 1 of 1958.
In the first case, after consideration of the question whether tlierehad been eviction by the landlord, the landlord whs acquitted not uponthe facts but upon what amounted, as the Magistrate himself seems tohave thought, to a technicality. In view of this acquittal the other,three cases were withdrawn. Thereafter Act No. 61 of 1961 was passedintroducing by section 4 a provision to the effect that where a personwho was the tenant cultivator of any extent of paddy land had beenevicted from such extent at any time after the date on which the principalAct came into operation, the Commissioner may hold an inquiry for thepurpose of deciding the'question whether such person had been evictedfrom such extent. Sub-section 2 of section 4 provides further thatany inquiry held by the Commissioner before the date of commencementof the Act should be deemed to have been duly held under the principalAct and tho decision of the Commissioner on such question shall bedeemed to be valid.
In view of this statutory provision fresh proceedings were had beforethe Commissioner and the Commissioner has arrived at a finding thatthe paddy land owner had evicted the tenant cultivators. The appealof the petitioners to the Board of Review against this order has been
VVEERAMANTRY, J.—Public Trustee v. Ounawardane
unsuccessful and in these proceedings an order is sought from this Courtquashing the orders of the Commissioner and the Board and alsoprohibiting further proceedings against the petitioner.
The basis on which these applications have been supported beforeus by learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner is that the provisionsof the amending Act constitute an interference with judicial power,in that although the question whether there had been eviction or nothas been decided and disposed of by the Magistrate, the very samematter is now made open to inquiry by a Commissioner.
It would appear, however, that there has been no interference withthe proceedings before or with the findings of the learned Magistrate.These remain unaffected, for section 4 merely' creates a power in thoCommissioner to investigate the question with a view to certain reliefsthat follow upon his finding, but leaves unaltered and unaffected theprovisions of section 21 of the original Act. This is the section dealingwith the procedure before and the powers of the Magistrate’s Court,■ and also with the right of the accused to be heard before the Magistratemakes an order of eviction against him.
One of the powers the amending Act conferred on the Commissionerby section 4 1A(d) is to restore the person evicted to the useand occupation of the extent from which he wa3 evicted and to requireevery person in occupation to vacate it. In default of compliancewith this order the original petitioner in the present case v'ouldhave to be evicted in accordance with the provisions of the unalteredsection 21.
There has, in other words, been no attempt so far to interfere with thedecision relating to conviction or acquittal entered by the Magistrate’sCourt in the earlier proceedings. These remain uninterfered with.So far no attempt has been made to take the petitioner to the Magistrate’sCourt again' but should such an attempt be made despite the earlieracquittal, the plea of autrefois acquit would be available to the accused.Later amendments to the law, not applicable to the present case, wouldappear to have deprived accused persons in such proceedings of theright to be heard before the Magistrate makes an order of eviction againstthem, but such provisions cannot be used to deprive the petitionerin this case of his right to appear before the Magistrate in terms of section21 and raise the plea of autrefois.
Inasmuch as the law governing this matter is the law at the time ofthe event, it would not be open to the Commissioner in reliance uponany later amendment of the law, not considered in this order, to seek todefeat such rights as the petitioner enjoyed by virtue of the law as itthen stood.
In the result, then, there would appear to have been no interferenceso far with the procedure had before, or the order made by, theMagistrate and we do not think a case has been made out for the issueof a writ.
DE KRETSER, J.—Madanayake v. Senaratrw
In this view of the matter we would dismiss these applications withcosts.
de Kretser, J.—I agree.
PUBLICE TRUSTEE, Petitioner, and A. D. J. GUNAWARDANE (Chairman, Paddy lands Boa