Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Full Bench of Buwaneka Aluwihare PC, Preethi Padman Surasena and E. A. G. R. Amarasekara, JJ., partly allowed an appeal that was filed in order to seek answer to the question whether the sentence imposed on the accused-appellant-appellant was excessive.

The accused had been convicted for the offence of Criminal Breach of Trust in a sum of Rs 527,496.00, punishable under Section 391 of the Penal Code. Upon conviction, the accused has been imposed with a sentence of a term of 5 years rigorous imprisonment and in addition a fine of Rs. 700,000.00 was also imposed, which carried a default sentence of 21 months rigorous imprisonment. Aggrieved by the conviction and sentence, the accused had appealed to the Court of Appeal but the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Thus, the instant appeal was filed.

The Counsel for the appellant, Mr Faisz Musthapha PC with Kamran Aziz and Ershan Ariyaratnam contended that 30 years have elapsed since the date of the offence, and it was highly inappropriate to incarcerate a person who has had a clean life since then after the lapse of such a long period. It was also submitted that the accused was incarcerated for a period of 8 months consequent to the conviction and sentence by the High Court before he was released on bail, pending the appeal by the Court of Appeal. The attention of the court was also drawn to the deteriorating medical condition of the accused.

The Court while party allowing the appeal observed that financial fraud was committed by the accused when he was placed in a position of trust in the capacity of the Accounts Executive by his employer. Thus, setting aside the sentence imposed by High Court, the Court modified and reduced the sentence and fine. [State v. Udugamaralalage Walter Mendis, 2020 SCC OnLine SL SC 6, decided on 11-09-2020]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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