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Present: Dalton J.
SINNATANGrAM r. DE SILVA.
102—P. C. Batticaloa, 19tS76.
Maintenance—Corroboration—A pplicant's statement before an Inspector
—Evidence Ordinance, s. 157.
Where it was sought to corroborate the' evidence of an applicantin maintenance proceedings by proof of a statement made by berto an Inspector of Police, who was inquiring into a charge againstthe applicant of an alleged attempt at abortion.
Held, that the statement did uot amount to a sufficient corrobo-ration of the applicant's evidence as it was not a material questionat the inquiry to ascertain if the respondent was the father of thechild.
PPEAL from an order for maintenance made by the PoliceMagistrate of Batticaloa. The facts appear from the judg-
Chohtty, for appellant;
H. V. Perera, for respondent.
September 7. 1920. Dalton J.—
This appeal raises a question under the Maintenance Ordinance.1889. The appellant, an unmarried girl of 22 years of age, is theiqrplicanfc in the Court below. She claimed from the defendantmaintenance for her child, of whom she alleged defendant was thefather.
Both applicant and defendant gave evidence, and as betweenthese two. the Magistrate states he would prefer to accept the evi-dence of the applicant. Having regard to the evidence and theadmissions of the defendant, the Magistrate states he is certainlydeficient in the sense of morality so far as women are concerned.
In view of the provisions of section 7 of the Ordinance, however,he quite properly has to look further than the story of the womanand must be satisfied that there is corroboration of her story thatrespondent is the father of her child in some material particular inother evidence. This corroboration he states he is unable to find,and therefore he dismisses the application.
For the appellant it is urged that corroboration is- to be found inother evidence led on her behalf. There is pertainly most definitecorroboration in the evidence of the old woman Nachan, with whom
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the girl lived duriug her mother’s absence, but the Magistrate statesthat he cannot rely on this evidence, for the reasons he gives, tofind corroboration in it of the evidence of applicant. The evidenceof her mother has also been adversely criticised by the Magistrate.No doubt, as he states, she is a highly interested witness, but theevidence must not be rejected for that reason alone, for it is themother who would most likely receive the confidences of herdaughter, and have the best opportunity of giving evidence as toher associates and actions. It is suggested that that interest is theprincipal reason why the mother’s evidence has been rejected, but Ido not think the Magistrate's reasons support-that suggestion. Hewould seem to have weighed the mother’s evidence carefully, havingregard to the circumstances deposed to, the probabilities of the case,and the personal interest which the mother naturally has in her(laughter. The mother states that during the continuance of thealleged intimacy between her daughter and defendant, the formeradmitted to her mother that she was pregnant by the defendant.There is no statement in the evidence of applicant herself that sheever made any such confession to her mother; this may be due tothe fact that according to her story her mother saw the defendantcoming to their house, and must therefore presumably have knownt'or what purpose he came without being told., The Magistrate,however, has come to the conclusion that the mother did not seeaccused coming to the house after her return to Batticaloa for thereasons he gives, and therefore lie rejects the evidence of both motherand daughter on this point. Having regard to all the circumstancesI cannot say the Magistrate was wrong in his conclusion that hecould not find satisfactory corroboration of the applicant’s story inthe evidence of her mother.
Counsel for appellant then argued that corroboration wasT to befound in the evidence of the Inspector of Police. A communicationwas sent to this witness about October, 1925, that the applicant waspregnant and was going to bring about an abortion. From whomthis communication came does not appear, nor is there any evidenceto show that any charge in that respect was made against thedefendant. He had apparently left Batticaloa two or three monthsbefore this. In the course of his duty the Inspector inquired intothe matter and questioned the applicant and her mother, andapplicant admitted she was pregnant. She went further andinformed the Inspector that defendant was responsible for hercondition. This statement to the Inspector it is urged is corrobo-ration of her story, relying on the decision in Ponnammah v. Seeni-tamhtj.* By section 157 of the Evidence Ordinance it is enacted.that, to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statementmade by such witness relating to the same fact before any
1 (1921) 22 X. L. 1?. 395.
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authority legally competent to investigate the fact, may be proved.
In the case cited it was regarded as accepted law that section 157applied to the provisions of section 7 of the Maintenance Ordinance.There is no doubt about the legal competence of the Inspector ofPolice to investigate the commission of or an alleged attempt orintention to commit the offence of procuring an abortion. Thefacts here, however, differ on a most material point' from the facts inthe case cited. There it was alleged that the respondent, who wasalleged to be the father of the child, was a party to the attempt.Here there is nothing of the kind. So far as the information givento the Inspector i6 concerned, it seems to me to have been in no waya material question in the inquiry to ascertain if the respondent wasthe father of the child. Under those circumstances the statementof the applicant to the Inspector alleging that respondent was thefather is not a statement which is admissible in evidence under theprovisions of section 157. It is also to be noted that it was madesome months after the discontinuance of the alleged intercourse
between the parties. If the statement is not admissible undersection 157, it seems to me it is not admissible at all. Counsel forappellant has at any rate not been able to refer me to any otherauthority for its acceptance. There is therefore no corroboration inthe evidence of the Inspector of the applicant's story that therespondent is the father of the child.
Lastly, the two letters A1 and D1 have been referred to as supply-ing the necessary corroboration. These are not referred to by theMagistrate, although I think it is fairly clear from his view of thecase that he would not have neglected reference to them had hethought they afforded any evidence of corroboration. D1 is a letterwritten to applicant’s brother after he had apparently received ananonymous letter defaming him. What exactly is the charge madeagainst him does not appear, but there is some reason for supposingthat, as Counsel for appellant suggests, he had been charged withmisconducting himself with applicant. If that is so, the letter whichis dated October 1, 1925, about the time of the Inspector’s inquiry,denies the charge, and states it is the work of an enemy. Letter Al,dated March 15, 1926, after these proceedings had commencedagainst respondent, is also written in quite friendly terms to appli-cant’s brother. It is written in reply to a letter from the brotherwhich is not produced. At this time respondent was at Badulla.He states: “ It is a great pity to see that you still adhere to a wrong-notion about me. I would like to see you in Badulla some day nextweek. Could you come ? I shall pay the bus charges.” There waspractically no examination of either the brother or the respondent-as to the circumstances in which this letter was written, but Counselfor appellant has asked me to infer that respondent wished to see thebrother about these maintenance proceedings brought against him.
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If that is so, respondent would appear to reiterate his former denialof responsibility. If so, why it is asked should he ask the brother tocome to see him and offer to pay his travelling charges. It is a pitythat question was not put to the respondent. He seems to have beenon friendly terms with the brother, and it is possible it refers to ndifferent matter. At any rate, even if it refers to the maintenanceproceedings, it does seem as I stated to reiterate his denial of anymisconduct. I am unable to find in either of these letters corrobo-ration of applicant’s story in any material particular. As pointedout in Bandara Menika v. Dingiri Banda 1 and in the authoritiesthere cited, corroboration may be by circumstantial evidence, butI cannot see that, having regard to their terms, these letters affordany evidence that respondent is the father of applicant’s child, or inany way implicate him.
For these reasons the decision of the Magistrate must he affirmedand the appeal be dismissed.
SINNATANGAM v. DE SILVA