ART. 18 AND 20 CHAPTER 117 REV. ED. - ART. 379, 382 (3) AND 440 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE - CENSUS ACT, 1948 - COMPETENCE OF THE CRIMINAL COURT OF MAGISTRATES - JURISDICTION - LIBEL
The maximun competence of the Court of Magistrates of Judicial Police sitting as a Court of CriminalJudicature is in respect of offences liable to imprisonment or hard labour up to three months. When the offence is punishable with more that that, the Court of Magistrates of Judicial Police must sit as a Court of Criminal Enquiry, as the first stage towarda the ultimate trial by jury; saving thepower of the Attorney General of sending for trial by that Court sitting as a Court of Criminal Judicature any person charged with a crime punishable with imprisonment or hard labour up to six months,if the person concerned agrees, and saving also the power of the Attorney General to send for trialby that Court any person charged with a crime punishable with imprisonment or hard labour up to twoyears, irrespective of whether the person concerned agrees or not, under the Administrative of Justice (Emergency) Regulations 1949. What must be looked at for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of the Court, is the offence as alleged in the summons, and not the offence which at a subsequent stage, may result from the evidence. Section 18 of the Press Lane contemplates the offence committed by whosoever, by the means mentioned in section 2 of the Law, directly instigates the perpetration of a crime, whilst in section 20 is contemplated the offence committed by whosoever, by the same means, directly incites any person to disobey the law, and this latter offence is made punishablewith imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. A charge of instigating persons to disobey the Census Act 1948 cannot be construed as vantamount to a charge of instigating persons to perpetrate a crime. Whether such a charge comes under section 20. and not under section 18, of the Press Law; and as such, the punishment being, in case of conviction, that of imprisonment up to six months, the Court of Magistrates of Judicial Police sitting as a Court of Criminal Judicature is not competent to take cognisance of the change, but must sit as a Court of Criminal Investigation. When the Appellate Court finds that the offence attributed to the offender was not within the jurisdiction of the Inferior Court by which it was tried, but of another Inferior Court, it quashes the judgment and refers the case to the competent Court.