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Present: Bertram C.J.
RAPU v. ABRAHAM.829—M. C. Colombo, 3,392.Ordinance No. 1 of 1889—Accosting soldiers passing through Colombo—Lawful exouse—Vagrants—Idle and disorderly persons.
A person who persistently followed, accosted, and addressed bywords and signscertainwounded soldierspassingthrough ■ Colombo
against their willand . totheir annoyance,with theobjectof getting
them to go to acertainshop, hoping toget a commissionlium the
shopkeeper, was held notto have had a“ lawfulexcuse’’ for so
acting. within the meaning of Ordinance No. 7 of 1889.
rJ' HE facts appear from the judgment.
L. 11. de Alwis, for the appellant.
No appearance for the respondent.
October 22, 1918. Bertram, O.J.—
This is an appeal against a conviction under Ordinance No. 7 of1889. This Ordinance was passed to deal with a public nuisance,which may well become of a serious character, namely, the toutingwhich goes on. in the streets of Colombo by various persons forvarious purposes and the annoyance thereby occasioned to passengersand others visiting the port. Touting may be carried on in a large
i (1834) 10 Bing. 378.* (1834) 10 Bing. 482.
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port like Colombo for many purposes much less innocent than thesale of Indian silks or the recommendation of hotels. If it werepossible for any person, when he was found touting, to produce ahotel card or a card from a merchant, and this was admitted as alawful excuse for his proceedings, the object of the Legislature inpassing the Ordinance would. I think, be frustrated.
One must examine the provisions of the Ordinance with a viewto the abuses that it was intended to remedy. This was a very clearcase. It is undoubtedly the fact that the accused did “ persistentlyfollow, accost, or address by words or signs ” certain persons, namely,certain wounded soldiers, “ against their will and to their annoyance.”But it is argued on behalf of the appellant that it is shown that theaccused person was acting with a “ lawful excuse.” The suggested“ lawful excuse ” is that he hoped, if he got the persons whom hewas importuning into a certain shop, that he would get a commissionout of the shopkeeper in respect of any purchases that were made.I do not knowx what would constitute a “ lawful excuse ” for “ per-sistent following, accosting, or addressing a person by words orsigns against his will and to his annoyance ” within the meaning ofthis point. It is quite clear that the mere expectation of securinga commission in respect of purchases made by the persons worriedwas not a lawful excuse for such action.
Mr. de Alwis suggests that, in view of the preamble to the titleof the Ordinance, one ought to require some evidence that the personaccused was a person in the nature of a vagrant. I do not myselftake this view of the Ordinance. The Ordinance was passed witha view to applying the provisions of what is known as the VagrantsOrdinance to a particular abuse. It amended the law' by bringingwithin its provisions a class of persons who would not otherwise bewithin its provisions, and it declared that that class of persons shouldbe deemed to be ranked under one of the categories of vagrants withwhich the Ordinance deals. The Vagrants Ordinance' deals withthree classes of persons. The first class of person is the “ idle anddisorderly person ” (section 3); the second is the “ rogue andvagabond ” (section 4); the third is the “ incorrigible rogue ”(section 5). This gradation of vagrants has been introduced intothis Colony from the English law. From time to time, in order topreserve order and decency, legislation is passed to bring variouspersons within one or other of these classes. Thus, in England,the “ bully,” i.e., the person who lives on the earnings of prostitutes,has been classified as an “ incorrigible rogue.”. Similarly, for thesame reason, the tout, with whom we are familiar in the Fort, hasby Ordinance No. 7 of 1889 been classified as-an “ idle and dis-orderly person,” so as to bring into operation the machinery of theVagrants Ordinance. For the reasons I have explained, I am unableto allow the appeal.
RAPU v. ABRAHAM