Director General, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption vs Ranaweera Wanasinghe Wanninayake Herath Mudiyanselage Gamini Wanasinghe (CPA/136/2022) decided on 08.02.2024

The petitioner, Director General of the CIABOC, filed an application invoking the revisionary jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to challenge the decisions of the High Court of Colombo dated 12-09-2022 and 22.09.2022, which resulted in the dismissal of the petitioner's case and discharge the Accused. Base of the said decisions of the learned High Court judge was the precedent established in Anoma Polwatte judgement, where it was decided that the absence of sanction of all three Commissioners’ to institution of proceedings amounted to patent lack of jurisdiction.

However, in this case, the Accused did not raise the preliminary objection under Anoma Polwatte judgement and it was raised by the court on own motion. The petitioner argued that it is not necessary to have the direction of full complement of the Commission to initiate investigations and to institution of proceedings. Further, the petitioner argued that the two orders marked as P4 and P5 violate section 283(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, asserting that delivering of P-05 as an edited version goes beyond permissible clerical error correction and amounts to an irregularity.

In this case, the Court of Appeal emphasized that Anoma Polwatte judgement involved in challenging a decision of the Commission through a Writ application filed before the Supreme Court, as per section 24(1) of the CIABOC Act. The court held that the appropriate action and forum for challenging administrative functions of the Commission is through a Writ application before the Supreme Court, and the High Court Judge lacks the authority to decide his own motion to consider the question of jurisdiction on the premise of patent lack of jurisdiction in deciding to dismiss the action and discharge the Accused from the proceedings.

Further, the court held that a judge cannot alter or review a judgement after it was pronounced unless in terms of section 283(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act. Once a judgment is pronounced, only a higher appellate court can review it, as per the legal provisions. Having two orders in the same case causes confusion, and the court held that both orders marked P-04 and P-05, should not be considered valid and directed the learned high court judge to hear this action commencing from where it stood before the order was pronounced.

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