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VENGADASALEM CHETTY v. MOHIDEEN PITCHE.
P. C., Colombo, 65,918.
Criminal Procedure Code-, s. 152 (3)—Summary trial of indictable cases—Scopeofs. 152 (3).
A Police Magistrate, who is also Additional District Judge, must notassume that cases usually triable upon indictment may properly betried by him summarily, when a District Judge is available at thestation to try the case.
HIS was a case of theft of twenty bags of rice which camebefore the Police Magistrate of Colombo. He, being also
Additional District Judge, was of opinion that it could properlybe tried summarily. He heard evidence and acquitted the secondaccused, but found the first and third guilty.
The third accused appealed.
Bawa, for appellant.
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The Chief Justice, after reviewing the facts of the case, cameto the conclusion that the appellant was entitled to be acquitted.In the course of his judgment he made the following observationson the summary trial which had taken place: —
2nd November, 1900. Bonser, G.J.—
For some reason or other, which does not appear, the PoliceMagistrate of Colombo, who is also Additional District Judge, wasof opinion that this was a case which could properly be triedsummarily. I agree with what was said by my brother Lawriein Sinnatamby v. Mendis Ap-pu* on the readiness with whichPolice Magistrates, who are also District Judges, assume thatcases may properly be tried summarily-.
Tt is well known why section 152 (3) was inserted in the Code.At a great many outstations there is only one Judicial Officer, whois not only the Police Magistrate but the District Judge also, andgreat inconvenience arose from the fact that every tase, howeversimple, which was not within the jurisdiction of the PoliceMagistrate to try, had to be tried before some District Judgebrought down from some other Court and appointed specially totry it. To obviate this difficulty the Code provides for thePolice Magistrate trying summarily cases which he thinks mayproperly be tried.
That provision was not made to apply to a case where a DistrictJudge was available to try the case, although the words of thesection would cover such a case. My brother Lawrie pointed outthe disadvantages of a summary trial where the accused has notthe benefit of a full investigation by the committing Magistrate,followed by a further consideration of his case by the Attorney-General. There is also the disadvantage that the case is triedwithout assessors.
* The following is the judgment of Mr. Justice Lawrie, delivered on 27th March,1899: —
After the examination of the complainant the Police Magistrate informed theaccused that they were on their trial before the District Court. It is surely nottoo much to expect that the Magistrate should follow the procedure laid down inOrdinance No. 8 of 1896 and in section 152 of the new Code, that is, record hisopinion that the offence may properly be tried summarily, and then to begin asfrom the beginning of a Police Court case, following the procedure in chapterXVIII. of the new Code. Tt must be borne in mind that the question before thePolice Magistrate is not whether the accused can be tried before a District Court(the schedule of the Code settles that), but whether the offence can properly betried summarily. It seems to me that Magistrates, who are also District Judges,are too apt to conclude that any District Court case may properly be triedsummarily, forgetting the advantage to the accused, if not to the complainant,of an investigation under chapter XVI. and a reference to the Attorney-Generalfor advice and sanction.
VENGADASALEM CHETTY v. MOHIDEEN PITCHE