SL CoA | Judge has discretion to permit the applicant to lead evidence for reaching ends of justice 

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of K. K. Wickremasinghe and K. Priyantha Fernando, JJ., dismissed a revision application to set aside the order of the High Court.

The Accused-Petitioner and three others were indicted before the High Court for offences under Public Property Act, 1982. The Prosecution had tendered the notice of computer-generated evidence that the prosecution intended to lead evidence on the material under and in terms of Evidence to all accused. The prosecution has been unable to respond to the said request made by the Petitioner, within the stipulated time period of IS days in terms of Section 7 (I) (c) of the Evidence (Special Provisions Act) No 14 of 1995. The prosecution had made an application only after 15 days permitting access to and to inspect the computer evidence. At that point of time the Counsel appearing for the 1st  Accused – Petitioner had taken up a preliminary objection for the inspection, on the basis that the prosecution had failed to comply with Section 7(1) (c) of the said Act by providing access and inspection within a reasonable time (within 15 days). Therefore the Counsel for the Petitioner argued that since the application was not made within the permitted time as stipulated in Section 7 (1) (c) of the Act, the prosecution was prohibited from tendering the evidence. The High court had held that there was a failure of the prosecution in complying with Section 7(1) (c).

The Court while dismissing the application explained that it was evident that the intention of the legislature was to provide the Judge with a discretionary power in the interest of justice by adopting a more liberal view to accomplish the objectives of the said act and the legislature was very clear that when there is a delay in making an application to Court in order to inspect or to have access to computer evidence, the Judge has a discretion to permit the applicant to lead such evidence as the interests of justice may require and in this case it was a mistake, thus there was no prejudice caused by the High Court to the petitioner by allowing the application. [Tiran P.C Alles v. Attorney General, CA (PHC) APN: 35 of 2018, decided on 14-01-2020]

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