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The Food and Fuel Controller V. Joseph Boukaroun (1942) LJR-WACA

The Food and Fuel Controller V. Joseph Boukaroun (1942)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Defence Regulations–Controlled Prices Order 10 No. 20140— Maximum price per pound—Conviction quashed.

The Judge held that the controlled price of 2s 9d per pound for unmanufactured tobacco operated proportionately for less quantities.

Held: Following Commissione-r of Police r. Ayie, (7 W.A.C.A. p. 73) that the only maximum fixed is per pound and that the enactment being penal must be interpreted strictly.

Appeal allowed and conviction quashed.

Case referred to :—

Commissioner of Police r. Ayie. (7 W.A.C.A. p. 73).

S. A. Benka-Coker for Appellant. Respondent not represented.

The following joint judgment was delivered :—

KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, PETRIDES, C.J., GOLD COAST, AND GRAHAM PALL, C.J., SIERRA LEONE.

The appellant was convicted by the Police Magistrate Bathurst on three charges of selling unmanufactured tobacco at a price above the controlled price (Defence Controlled Prices Order 10 No. 20/40). The appellant was fined £10 on each charge and appealed to the Supreme Court of the Gambia from the convictions And sentences, the grounds of appeal being that the verdicts were against the weight of the evidence and that the sentences were excessive. The Supreme Court upheld the convictions but reduced the sentences to £5 on each charge.

From the Judgment of the Supreme Court upholding the conviction the appellant has appealed to this Court. The Respondent was not represented either in the Supreme Court or in this Court. The only ground of appeal with which we find it necessary to deal is No. 1 which is:

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” The learned Judge was wrong in law in holding that the controlled ” price of 2s 9d per pound for unmanufactured tobacco operated ” proportionately for lesser quantities than a pound “.

Counsel for the appellant in this Court relied upon the judgment of this Court in the case of the Commissioner of Police

Ayie decided at Accra on 19th- May, 1941, and in our opinion the present case comes within the principles of that judgment and it4 ruled by it.

It would have been quite easy for the proper authority to have fixed a maximum price for unmanufactured tobacco ” per leaf ” or per head or ” at the rate of ” so much ” per pound ” or ” per ounce ” if it was the intention to fix a maximum price for the sale of a quantity of less than a pound. But that has not been done. The only maximum price fixed is ” per pound ” and it is not for the Courts to amend the Order so as to widen its scope by making it cover quantities of less than a pound. This is a penal statutory enactment and must be strictly interpreted.

What exactly the policy of the Controller is as regards sales of less than a pound we do not know and it is not for us to guess.

The appeal is allowed, all the convictions and sentences are quashed and a verdict of acquittal is substituted on each charge. The fines if paid must be refunded.

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