Legal Services and Laws of Sri Lanka
SLR - 1984 Vol.1, Page No - 98
SHAHUL HAMEED AND TWO OTHERS
COURT OF APPEAL
L .H. DE ALWIS, J. AND MOONEMALLE, J.
C.A. 518/82-D. C. MATALE L/2999
OCTOBER 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26,27, 2.8, 1983NOVEMBER 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,
14. 17, 18, 1983, DECEMBER8 and 9, 1983.
Inerim Injunction to restrain structural alterations-Notice issuedwithoutenjoiningorder-PendingInquiryrespondents
restore premises to former condition.
Contempt Of Court, sections 792 and 793 Of Civil Procedure Code read with Article 105(3) Of the Constitution.
The 1st defendant-respondent was the tenant of premises No. 128. Trincomalee Street, Matale. On the 4thofFebruary,1982,
he made certain, structural alterations to the roof and parts of the building.
The Petitioner who was landlord instituted this action in the District Court of Mataleon9.2.82,seekinginteralia,a
declaration that the contract, of tenancy had been terminated by operation of lawonaccountofthedestructionofthe
premises by the 1st respondent, for ejectment and damages and also for an interim injunctionrestraininghimfromfurther
demolishing or destroying the said Premises and/or erecting any unauthorised structure thereon until the finaldetermination
of the action.
On 9.2.82, the learned District Judge issued notice of the interim injunction and summons on the 1st respondent.
The 1st respondent filed objections to the application for the interim injunctionandinquiryintotheapplication,and
answer were fixed for 16.2.82
Inquiry into the application for an interim injunction was re-fixed for 30.3.82. The 1st respondent filed answerwhereinhe
sought Permission to restore the roof to its original condition, Whentheinquirywasstillpendingthe2ndand3rd
respondents at the instance of the 1st respondent worked hurriedly on 1.3.82 and restored the building and replaced theroof
to its original position. The petitioner took out a commission and obtained a report that all additional structures thatthe
1st respondent had made in the premises on 4.2.82 had been removed and the roof replaced.
On 30.3.82 when the trial and inquiry were taken up in Court, the Attorney-at-law for the 1st respondent gave anundertaking
that, no further damage will be caused to the premises, untilthedeterminationoftheinquiry.TheCourtaccordingly
entered an interim Injunction in terms of paragraph 5 of the prayer to the plaint.
The petitioner moved the Court of Appeal under Article 105 (3) of the Constitution read with, sections 792and793ofthe
Civil Procedure Code to deal with the respondents for contempt of Court.
(1)Unless an enjoining Order or injunction had been issued the respondents were under no duty to maintainthe status
quo until the determination of the action and no contempt of Court hadbeencommittedbytherespondentson1.3.82in
restoring the premises to its former condition while the inquiry into the application for an interim injunctionwaspending
(2)The restoration of the premises 10 its original state on 1.3.82 did not interfere with the functionofthe Court
in ascertaining the truth, nor was obstruction to the administration of Justice in the circumstances of this case.Theacts
of the respondents do not constitute an abuse of the process of Court and do not amount to a contempt.
Cases referred to
(1)Gnanamuttu v. Chairman U. C. Bandarawela, (1942) 43 N, L. R. 366.
(2)Silva v. Appuhamy, (1899) 4 N.L.R. 178.
(3)Daniel v. Ferguson, (1891) 2 Ch 27
(4)Van Joel v. Hornsey, 65 L.J. Ch. 102(1896) 2 Ch. 774
(5)Joseph v. Asst. Excise Commissioner and others, A.I.R.  Travancore - 145.
(6)Ouseph Ouseph v. Minister for Food Travancore Cochin, A.I.R. (38)  Tra. -Cochin, 226 (2).
(7)Sheeraj v. Batra, AIR [ 1955] Allahabad 638
(8)A. G. v. Times Newspapers Ltd. 3All E.R. 54 H.L.
(9)Raymond v. Honey  2All E.R 1084.
(10)Re Brambievale Ltd., 3All ER- at 1064.
(11)Hawamanne v. Manik de Silva and The Associated Newpapersof Ceylon Ltd. S. C. 2/83 (Sp) Rule 1/83. Supreme
Court Minutes of July 1983.
APPLICATION under sections 792 and 793 of the Code of Civil Procedure read with Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.
H. W Jayewardene, Q.C,, with A. K. Premadasa and D. S. Wijesinghe for the petitioner.
Dr. Colvin R. de Silva with M. Mousoof Deenfor the respondents.
L. H. DE ALWIS, J.
A brief narrative of the events in their chronological order thatledtotheseproceedingsforcontemptofCourt,is
Premises, No. 128, Trincomalee, Street, Matale, belong to the petitioner, and the,1stdefendant-respondenthasbeenthe
tenant of these premises, for the past twenty odd years, paying a monthly rental of Rs.52/92. The 1st respondent iscarrying
on a hardware shop in these premises. The 2nd and 3rd respondents arehissons.Onthe4thofFebruary,1982,the1st
respondent removed the front portion of the roof of the premises and raised the central pillar and thesouthernwallby2
1/2 feet in order to construct a new roof with asbestos sheets in place of the old Sinhala tiles. ThereasonhegaveWeis
that the roof timber had decayed and on 3.2.82, a beam cracked and the roof caved in.Hewasadvisedbyacarpenterto
replace the roof timber and he decided to put in asbestos sheets. The premises originally consisted of 2 unitsnumbered126
and128 and the common wall separating them had been removed and they were converted into one premises numbered128.Onthe
4th of February, the 1st respondent also replaced some oil the timber of the door frames which gave entrance to theshopas
they too were found to be decayed. He further constructed a curb wall of about a foot in height across theentrancetothe
shop for the purpose, he alleged, of preventing rain water flowing into the shop which wasonaslightlylowerelevation
than the adjoining road.
The -petitioner carries on a business at No. 363, Trincomalee Street, abouta1/4mileawayfromthe1strespondent's
premises and on seeing the alterations being carried out in premises No. 128 by the 1st respondenthewenttotheMatale
Police Station, at 10.25 p.m. that night and made a complaint marked1"X'againstthe1strespondent.Healsosenta
telegram P 2 followed by a letter P 33, to the 1st respondent asking him to stop theunauthorisedbuildingalterationsin
the premises. Police Constable 8483 Karunaratne of the MatalePolicewentforinquirythenextdayandaftermaking
observations at the premises, ordered the 2nd respondent who was present, to stop further work.
On 5.2. 82, the petitioner obtained the services of a photographer, Chandrasekaram, to take photographs Y 1 to Y3of
the premises that day showing the front portion of the roof completely removed and the central pillar and southernwallor
the wall on the right side of the building raised by 2 1/2feet. On this evidenceheinstitutedactionNo.L/2999,inthe
District Court of Matale on 9.2.82, seeking, inter alia, a declaration that the contract of tenancy hadbeenterminatedby
operation of law on account of the destruction of the premises as aforesaid,bythe 1strespondent,forejectmentand
damages and also for an interim injunction restraining him from further demolising or destroyingthesaidpremisesand/or
erecting, any unauthorized structure thereon until the final determination of the action (vide plaint P 1).
On 9.2.82, the learned District Judge issued notice of the interim injunction and summons on the1strespondentreturnable
on 11. 2.82. Notice and summons were served on the 1st respondent on that day itself.Onthesameday,9.2.82,the1st
respondent submitted a building plan for effecting, certain structural alterations to the saidpremises,totheMunicipal
Council of Matale without the knowledge or consent of the petitioner.
On 11.2.82 the 1st respondent appeared in Court in answer to the notice and summons and filed objections totheapplication
for the interim injunction. Inquiry into the application was fixed for 16.2.82, and the same date was givenforfilingthe
On 12.2.82, the petitioner made an application to Court for the issue of a commission toLicensedSurveyorandValuerS.
Ranchagoda to report on and value the damage caused to the premises on 4.2.82.TheCommissionerdulyinspectedthesaid
premises in the presence of both the petitioner and 1st respondent on 13.2.82 andtenderedhisreport(P9)toCourton
15.2.82, confirming that the front portion of the roof and the door frames had been removed, , that a short wall, ofbricks,
one foot high and 24 feet long had been constructed where the doorframesstood andthattheCentralpillarandthe
southern edge of the wall had been raised by 2 1/2 feet.
Answer was filed on 16.2.82 and inquiry in to the application for aninteriminjunctionwaspostponedonthatdayfor
30.3.82. At paragraph 20 of his answer the 1st respondent requested the permission of the District Court to restore theroof
to its original condition. On 17.2.82, the 1st respondent made an application to the Rent Board of Matale, for permissionto
re-erect the structures that were demolished by him. The Chairman of the Rent Board noticed the petitioner to bepresentat
an inspection to be held by him, on 24.2.82 at 3.45p.m, but the petitioner throughhisAttorney-at-Lawrepliedbyletter
refusing to attend, as the matter was sub judice.
The main com plaint of the petitioner on which the present application for these contemptproceedingsisfoundedisthat
although the inquiry had been postponed for 30.3.82, and was pending in Court, the 1st, 2ndand3rdrespondentswiththe
assistance of a large number of labourers worked hurriedly day and night on 1.3.82 and demolished thecurbwallthatthey
had constructed, reduced the height of the central pillar and southern wall by 2 1/2feetandreplacedtherooftoits
original position.. The photograph P 17 taken of the premises on 2.3 82 shows the premises as theywereintheiroriginal
state. The petitioner obtained re-issue of a commission from Court to Mr. Ranchagoda on 17.3.82 to reporttoCourtonthe
damage caused Jo the premises on 1.3.82. The Commissioner inspected the premises on 23.3.82 andmadehisreportP19on
24.3.82. It reveals that all the additional structures that the 1st respondent had made in the premises on4.2.82hadbeen
removed and the roof replaced.
On 30.3.82, when the trial and inquiry were taken up in Court, the Attorney-at-Lawforthepetitionersubmittedthathe
applied for an interim injunction because the 1st respondent had broken down the roof and wall of the premises insuit.The
Attorney-at-Law for the 1st respondent gave an undertaking that no further damage will be caused to the premises,untilthe
determination of the inquiry. The Court accordingly entered an interim injunction in terms of paragraph 5 oftheprayerto
On 1.3.82 it was the 2nd and 3rd respondents who were present in the premises and supervised therestorationoperationsin
the absence of the 1strespondent who had gone to Colombo to meet his creditors. The 1st respondenthoweveradmittedthat
the work was done at his instance. The petitioner has now invoked the power of thisCourtunderArticle105(3)ofthe
Constitution read with sections 792 and 793 of the Civil Procedure Code to deal with the respondents for contempt,ofCourt
in respect of the, matters mentioned in the prayer to the petition, Summons in Form 132oftheCivilProcedureCodewas
issue& and served on the respondents and the matter has come up for inquiry, To avoid repeating the matters referredtoin
the prayer to the petition I shall reproduce in toto the contents of the summons that was issued by this CourtinFormNo.
132 under section 793 Of the Civil Procedure Code, which provides for summary, procedure in respect of contempt of Court.
The, summons reads as follows: -
"WHEREAS your attendance is necessary to answer to a Charge of contempt I committed against theauthorityoftheDistrict
Court of Matale in that while the inquiry into an application for an interim injunction in D. C. Matale, Case No. L/2999was
pending before the said Court, you have on or about 1.3.1982,
(1) demolished part I of premises bearing assessment No. 128, Trincomalee Street, Matale:
(2) erected and/or carried outbuilding operations in the said premises
(3) demolished and reduced by 2 1/2 feet the height of the southern wall of the said premises and of the central pillar
in the said premises, which said acts were calculated
(i) to anticipate and forestall the Order and Judgment of theDistrict Court of Matale at the inquiry andtrial
which had been fixed for 30.3.1982, and to prevent a just and , fair hearing of actionNo.L/2999inallits
(ii) to prejudice, interfere with or obstruct the fair hearing the due course of justice and the authority of the
District Court of Matale and was in abuse of the process of Court and in breach of the duty owed to maintainthe
status quo in respect of the said premises till such time as the Court made an Order and/or delivered Judgment in
respect thereof ......"
I must confess that a great deal of the evidence led intheseProceedingsrelatingtotheeventspreceding1.3.82is
irrelevant to the matter of the contempt of Court under consideration,although learnedCounselmaintainedthatitwas
material. This court was thus constrained to record the evidence. Forinstance,whetherornotthealterationstothe
premises were carried out on 4.2.82 With the prior consent of the petitioner or not is notrelevanttotheissueofthe
contempt alleged to have been committed on 1.3.82, I do not propose to express any view on thematteroftheconsentand
certain other matters as they will have to be considered and adjudicated upon in the main action intheDistrictCourt.I
shall confine my attention only to those matters that, have a bearing on the charges of contempt of Court referred to inthe
summons issued by this Court, on the respondents, in respect of the acts allegedtohavebeencommittedon1.3.82.The
summons itself expressly charges the - respondents with doing certain acts on 1.3.82. There is no dispute that on 1stMarch,
1982, the inquiry into an application for an interim injunction in D.C. Matale Case No. L/2999, was pending.Thatisborne
out by the proceedings and by the subsequent undertaking given by the respondents in Court on 30 3.82, when theinquirywas
taken up for hearing.
It will be noted that no enjoining order or interim injunction issued by the District Court was in operation on1.3.82.The
question of the respondents acting in disobedience toanyorderoftheDistrictCourtthereforedoesnotarisefor
consideration. The complaint of the petitioner, as started earlier, is that the respondents restoredthepremisesforits
former condition while the inquiry into the application for an interim injunction was pending before the Court, andthatit
amounted to a contempt of the Court. Learned Queen's Counsel for the petitionerhimselfsubmittedthatthequestionfor
determination is whether the conduct of the respondents on 1.3.82 was in contempt of Court.
I shall now refer to the acts complained of in the summons which are alleged by the petitioner I to amount to acontemptof
Court. Dr. de Silva, who appeared for the respondents, submitted that the charge referstoseveralactsofcontemptand
lacks clarity and unambiguity. For instance he submitted that "to forestall" is one thing while to prevent ajustandfair
hearing of the action" is another thing. I am of the view that the charge gives therespondentssufficientparticularsof
the acts of contempt alleged to have been committed, by them and have not misled or prejudiced them.
Count(1) of the charge is that the respondents, demolished a part ofpremisesbearingassessmentNo.128,Trincomalee
Street, Matale. All the charges relate to the -work done in the premises on 1.3.82. According tothe petitioner himselfall
that the respondents did on 1.3.82 was to demolish, the short curb Wall that they themselves had builtreducetheheight
of the southern wall and central pillar by 2 1/2 feet which they had raised andtoreplacetheroofwhichtheyhad
removed, in order to restore the premises totheiroriginalcondition.Whattherespondents'didwastoremovethe
alteration they had themselves effected to the premises on4.2.82.andreplacetheroof.Theyhadmerelyrestoredthe
premises to their original state. In short, they undid what they had doneinthepremiseson4.2.82.Nodamagetoor
demolition of the premises had taken place on 1.3.82.
Count (2) states that they erected and/or carried out building operations in the said premises. The buildingoperationsare
those referred to above in count (1) and had for their object the restoration and not thedestructionofthepromisesin
suit. Per se, they constitute no offence, except, as alleged, in relation to sub Paragraph (i) and (ii) of, charge (3)which
I will deal with presently.
Count (3), specifies the particular acts done by the respondents which are alleged toamounttoacontemptofCourtby
reference to sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii). Count (3) omits any referencetotheremovalofthe1foothighcurbwall
constructed by the respondents arid the replacement of the roofHowever if the intention ofthepetitionerwasthatthe
matters alleged in sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) refer to all the 3 charges, then they wouldrelatetothetwoitemsalso
which are omitted in, count (3).
The question now is whether doing the items of work referred to in the charges amounts to a contempt of Court. Forthesake
of convenience I shall enumerate them as follows: -
(1)Demolish and reduce by 2 1/2 feet the height of the southern wall.
(2)Demolish and reduce by 2 1/2 feet, the central pillar.
(3)Demolish and remove the 1 foot high and 24 feet long curb wall Constructed by the respondents.
(4)Replace the front portion of the roof of the premises.
It is not the Petitioner's case that this work was carried out in disobedience to an interim injunction issued by Court.For
no enjoining order or interim injunction had been issued by Court by that date. An interim injunction wassoughtIbythe
petitioner from the District Court in terms of paragraph (5) of the prayer to, the plaint and is as follows:
"For an determination of this action" determination of this action" determinationofthisaction"determinationofthis
action" determination of this action" interim, injunction restraining the defendants from further demolishing or,destroying
the said premises and/or erecting any unauthorised structure thereon until the final determination ofthisaction"Itwas
issued only on 30.3.82.
The petitioner may have been unaware of what the respondents were doing in the premises behind the barricade of planksshown
in photograph Y1. But it was quite evident that the roof had been removed and the central pillar and Southern wallhadbeen
raised. That was done for the purpose of constructing a newroofwithasbestossheets.Thestructurewasunauthorised
because the new roof would have violated the street line regulation.InfactthebuildingalterationapplicationP22
Submitted to the Municipal Council was refused for this reason.Whenalleffortstogetthepermissionofthelocal
authority failed and since the petitioner objected to any alteration ofthepremisesandtherainswereimminent,the
respondents, in order to protect their stock-in-trade, removed the alterations they had effected andrestoredthebuilding
to its original state, nay, to a better condition, as the evidence discloses. They had replaced thedecayedtimberofthe
roof and the door frames with new timber.
The Petitioner's case is that the acts set outabove which constitute the three charges in the summons were donewhilethe
application for the interim injunction was pending and were calculated :-
(i) To anticipate and forestall the Order and Judgment of the District Court ofMatale,atthe inquiry
and trial which had been fixed for 30.3.82 and to prevent a just and fair hearing of action No. L/2999 in all
(ii)To prejudice, interfere with or obstruct the fair hearing, the due -course of justice andtheauthorityof the
District Court of Matale and was in abuse of the process of Court and in breach of the duty owed to maintain theStatusquo
in respect of the said premises till such time as the Court made an Orderand/ or delivered judgement in respect thereof.
The application for an interim injunction in terms of paragraph(5) of the prayer to the plaint, was allowed only on30.3.82.
In other words on 1.3.82 when the acts referred to above were committed there was nointeriminjunctioninoperationbut
only an application for one pending in the District Court. It is on this basis,thatthecontemptproceedingshavebeen
brought. There can therefore be no disobedience to any interim injunction issued by Court, on that day.
Learned Queen's Counsel for the petitioner contended that the acts committed on 1.3.82 in the premises, attheinstanceof
the 1st respondent, were intended to efface evidence of the wrongful acts doneon4.2.82andconstitutedanattemptto
forestall the order and Judgment of the District Court, at the inquiry into the application foraninteriminjunctionand
the trial of the main action.
The authorities relied on by learned Queen's Counsel however do not support his contention. In Gnanamuttu v. ChairmanU.C.
Bandarawela (1) an interim injunction restraining the 1st respondent from discontinuing thepetitioner'swatersupplyhad
already been issued by the District Court and the Supreme Court found that the telegram notifying the 1st respondentofthe
issue of the interim injunction had reached him before he disconnected the water supply and that therefore he wasguiltyof
contempt. In Silva v. Appuhamy (2) too, an injunction had been granted andDisobediencetoitwasheldpunishableeven
though it had been irregularly issued. In the present case there was no disobedience to an interim injunction issuedbythe
District Court, on 1.3.82.
In Daniel v. Ferguson (3) the defendant, in an action to restrain him from building so as to darken theplaintiff'slights,
upon receiving notice of a motion for injunction, put on a number of extra men and by working night and day ran uphiswall
to a height of nearly 40 feet before receiving notice that an ex parte interim injunction had been granted. Inviewofthe
defendant's conduct, The Court of Appeal upheld the order of the lower Court that the wall he had erected be pulled downat
once since he had endeavoured to anticipate the action of the Court by hurryingonhisbuilding.SeealsoVanJoelv.
In Joseph v. Asst., Excise Commissioner and others (5) the Court endorsed what it saidinOusephOusephv.Ministerfor
Food, Travancore, Cochin (6) as follows : -
"If a party knowing that his opponent has either approached the Court or is taking steps to approachitforspecific
relief, does anything to make the grant of the relief,bywayofprevention,ineffective,theCourthasalways
jurisdiction to pass orders even in ordinary cases, in a mandatory form, and to direct the restrictionofthestatus
quo ante in the manner and to the extent possible ".
In such cases the power of the Court isrestrictedtotheissueofmandatoryordersonlysincetherehasbeenno
disobedience to an order of Court. In these latter cases no notice of the issue of the interiminjunctionhadreachedthe
defendant. Hence no action for contempt for disobeying the orders of Courtcouldbetaken.InsteadtheCourtissueda
mandatory order to undo what the defendant had done hurriedly.
In the present case no interim injunction had been issued by Court before 1.3.82, but only notice of the application forone
had been served on, the first respondent. In these circumstances, in my view, no contempt of Court has been committed bythe
respondents in what they did on 1.3.82 and, even if it were withaviewtoforestallingoranticipatingtheorderor
judgment of the District Court, the only order the Court could make was to issue a mandatory order. But that isoutofthe
question, because it would only result in the removal of, the roof and cause more damage to the premises iftheywereleft
exposed to the elements.
Learned Queen's Counsel for the petitioner next submitted that the function of the Court is the ascertainmentofthetruth
in a case but the respondents had obstructed and frustrated this object by destroying the evidence of their unlawful actsby
their conduct on 1.3.82. They had also prevented the Court from ascertaining the truth byrenderinganinspectionofthe
premises after 1.3.82, futile.
In Sheeraj v. Batra (7) theD.S.P. prevented the Police investigationintoanapplicant'sreportaboutanoffenceby
sending a forged application for its withdrawal to the Magistrate. It was held to amount to an interference withthecourse
of justice and punishable as a contempt of Court.
In A.G. v. Times Newspapers Ltd. (8) which concerned a publication of legal proceedings, Lord Diplock was oftheviewthat
the due administration of justice requires first that all citizens should haveunhinderedaccesstotheconstitutionally
established Courts of criminal and civil jurisdiction for the determinationofdisputesastotheirlegalrightsand.
In Raymond v. Honey (9) it was held that the petitioner I who was a prisoner had a right to unhindered access to theCourts,
and an act which prejudiced that right or obstructed or interfered with the due course of justice or with lawful processwas
contempt. In that case the Governor of the prison stopped certain documents andanaccompanyingletteroftheprisoner-
petitioner constituting an application to commit the Governor for contempt This amounted to conduct calculatedtoprejudice
the requirement that a. citizen should have direct access to the Courts and the Governor was therefore guilty of contempt.
These cases are not applicable to the facts of the present case. The respondents at no time sought to conceal what theywere
doing in regard to the alterations in the premises on 1.3.82 or to obstruct the Court in ascertaining the truth ofit.What
they did on 1.3.82 is admitted by them and indeed there is thereportoftheCommissionerofCourtwhoinspectedthe
premises in regard to its condition. It was therefore unnecessary for the Court to inspectthepremisestoascertainthe
truth of the case in view of the abundance of evidence available inregardtotheconditionofthepremises.Onboth
occasions Police Officers had also visited the premises and made observations. The version of the respondents isthatsince
the rains were imminent, they decided to replace the roof by restoring the premises totheiroriginalstateinorderto
protect their stock-in-trade. Godage the carpenter who did the roof work said that as soon ashehadfinished,therains
came down. The petitioner alleged that the Work was hurried through on 1.3.82 since notice to quit had just beenservedon
the 1st respondent in the District Court action . In Re Bramblevale Ltd. (10) Lord Denning, M.Rsaid: Wherethereare2
equally consistent possibilities open to Court, it is not right to hold that the offence is proved beyond reasonabledoubt".
It was held in that case that contempt of Court was an offenceofacriminalcharacterandmustbeprovedwithsuch
strictness as was consistent with the gravity of the offence charged and the Court could not be said to besatisfiedbeyond
reasonable doubt that the appellant still had the books in November 1968, See also Gnanamuttu v.ChairmanU.C.Bandarawela
and another (supra). In view of the two equally consistent versions given by the parties forthehurriedwork,Idonot
think the requisite burden of proof has been discharged. I do not thinkthattherestorationofthepremisestotheir
original state on 1.3.82, interfered with the function of the Court in ascertain in the truth or, was an obstructiontothe
administration of justice in the circumstances of this case.
Learned Queen's Counsel next argued that the respondents had a duty to maintain the status quo untilthedeterminationof
the action, unless they obtained the permission of the Courttoalterit.Inmyview,unlessanenjoiningorderor
injunction had been issued, the respondents were under no such duty. In the absence of such an order, a party isatliberty
to deal with his property as he wishes. But it must be noted that in the present case the respondents in theobjectionsdid
ask the District Court for permission to restore the promises to their former state and to replace the roof.
There are also allegations in the summons that the respondents prevented a just and fair hearing of theactioninallits
stages and that they prejudiced, interfered with, or obstructedthefairhearing,theduecourseofjusticeandthe
authority of the District Court of Matale. As pointed out earlier, there is nothing in their conduct on1.3.82toindicate
that they obstructed or interfered with the administration of justice. They merely restored the premises totheiroriginal,
if not to a better condition. These acts did not affect the dignity or authority of the Court.
Absing the process of Court is-explained by Aiyer in Law of Contempt, 1960, Gour,2nd Edition at 365as,"atermgenerally
applied to a proceeding, which is wanting in bona fides and is frivolous, vexatious or oppressive. Halsbery 4th Edition,Vol
9 at paragraph 38, states in regard to abuse of process in general : " The Court has power to punish as contemptanymisuse
of the Court's powers. Thus the forging or altering of Court documents and other deceits ofthe like kind are punishableas
serious contempts. Similarly, deceiving the Court or the Court's officers bydeliberatelysuppressingafact,orgiving
false fact, may be a punishable contempt. Certain acts of a lesser nature may also constitutionabuseofprocessas,for
instance, initiating or carrying on proceedings which are wanting inbonafidesorwhicharefrivolous,vexatious,or
oppressive ". The acts of the respondents committed on 1.3.82 do not therefore constitute an abuse of the process of Court.
Halsbury 4th Edition, Vol. 9, 3 referring to the different kinds of contempts says"ContemptofCourtmaybeclassified
either as(1) Criminal contempt consisting of words or actsobstructing,ortendingtoobstructorinterferewiththe
administration of justice or (2) contempt in procedure, otherwise known as civil contempt, Consisting of disobedience tothe
judgments, orders or other processes of the Court and involving a private injury ". But later he says "Theclassifications
of contempts as criminal or civil has become progressively less important and has beendescribedasunhelpfulandalmost
meaningless in the present day". The distinction between criminal and civil Contempt is no longer prevalent today.
The law applicable in this country in the case of contempt is the English Law (Per Wanasundera, J. in the unreported caseof
Hewamanne v. Manik de Silva and the The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (11). His Lordship was on further to say."
the law of contempt has now reached the stage when it has to be regarded as a separate branch of law carryingwithit its
own principles and procedures."
Aiyer in Law of Contempt 1960, Gour, 2nd Edition at 18 states that the law of contempt is not a codified law, asanactof
contempt can adopt innumerable ways and methods which has rendered it impossible to give a satisfactorydefinitionofthe
term. Every case of contempt will have to be carefully gone into to determine whether the peculiarcircumstancesassociated
with it warrant or justify contempt proceedings against the contemner." InotherwordsasAiyersayselsewhereat222
"Everything depends on the peculiar circumstances of each case' and, therefore, no hard and fast rule, astowhatdoesor
does not constitute contempt of Court could be laid down. I am conscious that the categories of contempt arenotexhaustive
but learned Queen's Counsel for the petitioner was unable to cite a single authority in support of his caseinthepresent
proceedings, nor have I been able to find any myself. I am therefore of the view that the acts complained of inthecharges
which were committed by the respondents on 1.3.82, do not constitute a contempt of the District Court of Matale.
I accordingly dismiss the charges laid against the respondents and acquit them.
Before I part with this record I wish to refer to several erasures, omissions and interpolations that were discovered inthe
statements made by the petitioner Thyagarajah, marked 1R5 andrecordedintheMatalePoliceinformationBookat120,
paragraph 118 under date 4.2.82 and in the statement marked 1R8 and recorded in the informationBookat271paragraph11
under date 1.3.82. These erasures and interpolations appear to havebeenmadeincontraventionofPoliceCircularsor
Regulations and have not been authenticated by, the author of them. Further therearediscrepanciesbetweentheoriginal
statements and the certified copies of them, 1 R14 and 1R15, issued by the Police. I therefore directthattheInformation
Books along with certified copies of 1R14 and R15 and certified copies of the evidence given in these proceedings by PC8483
Karunaratne PC 13460 Wimaladasa, PS 6620 Bandara and IP Hapuarachchi be forwarded to theInspector-GeneralofPolice,for
any action he may deem necessary to take in the matter.
MOONAMALLE, J.- I agree.
Charges dismissed. Respondents acquitted.