KETtTNEMAN 8.P.J.—The Attorney-General v. Fernando.
1946Present: Keuneman S.P.J. and Wijeyewardene J.THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL, Petitioner, and FERNANDO,
36—Application to enhance the sentence in D. C. (Crim.),
Nuwara Eliya, 244/4,948.
Plea of guilt—Accused influenced by remarks made by Court—Validity of plea.
Where the accused tendered a plea of guilt in, consequence of certainremarks made by Court to the effect that the case was not one where asentence of imprisonment was called for even if the accused was foundguilty after trial—
Held, that the plea of guilt could not be regarded as an unqualifiedadmission of guilt.
PPLICATION to enhance a sentence passed by the District Judgeof Nuwara Eliya.
J. A. P. Cherubim, C.C., in support.
Q.P. J. Kurukulasuriya, for the accused, respondent.
September 11, 1946. Kettobmatt S.P.J-—
Although this matter started as an application for enhancement ofsentence on the part of the Crown, certain facts have come to our noticeas a result of which we are inclined to think that the plea of guilt in thecase of both indictments tendered by the accused was not an unqualifiedplea of guilt. The accused himself in his affidavit states that whilst thefirst witness for the prosecution was giving evidence a suggestion wasthrown out by the learned District Judge that on the facts andcircumstances of the case he was disposed to deal with the accused as afirst offender or impose a nominal fine if he tendered a plea of guilt.The learned District Judge to whom this affidavit was submitted doessay that it is incorrect that he said that he would deal with the prisonerleniently if he pleaded guilty, but on the other hand the District Judgedoes also say that before adjourning for lunch he mentioned from theBench that judging from the facts and circumstances of the case asrevealed by the evidence of the witness he felt that this was not a casewhere a sentence of imprisonment was called for even if he found theaccused guilty after trial. We are disposed to accept the explanationof the District Judge, but even accepting that explanation there can belittle doubt that the remarks made by the District Judge may haveinfluenced the accused to tender a plea of guilt although the accusedfelt and maintained that he was not guilty. In this state of thingsI think it would be unfair to the accused to uphold his plea of guilt.In the circumstances I order that the pleas of guilt be not regarded as anunqualified admission of guilt and that the conviction entered on the
KETJHEMAX SJP.J.—The Attorney-General v. Eemando.
pleas be set aside. The eases will be sent back to bo heard by anotherDistrict Judge. It is to be clearly understood that no inferenceunfavourable to the accused should hereafter be drawn in consequenceof the mere fact that the accused tendered a plea of guilt in the mannerin which he did.
WijeYT5WAJ1DENK J.—I agree.
Case sent back for re-trial.