In the absence of the Minister for Home Affairs in the Seanad I beg to move that this Bill be now received for final consideration.
DISTRICT JUSTICES (TEMPORARY PROVISIONS) BILL, 1923.—REPORT.
I beg to second that motion.
I beg to move in Sub-section (1) after the words "such district" to insert the words "or within one mile from the boundary of such district." The object of this amendment is to provide for one or two occasional instances in which the Courthouse is more conveniently situated outside the Court district. Drumcondra is a case in point. Although not within the Court district, it is situated in a place that is convenient both for the litigants and the members of the legal profession.
On a point of order, before these amendments are taken I wish to ask whether these are amendments introduced by the Seanad into this Bill.
This Bill was never before the Seanad.
It is not necessary to explain the obvious to Mr. Figgis.
I beg to move in Sub-section 3 of Clause 3 to delete the words "such county," and to insert in lieu thereof the words "Saorstát Eireann."
I beg to move in Sub-section (2) to delete the words "Petty Sessions." They are really unnecessary, because it is only that kind of summons that can be signed.
I beg to move in the same Sub-section to delete the word "and" where it occurs after the words "declarations," and in line 52 to add after the words "affirmations" the words "and informations."
I beg to move in Sub-section (2) to delete the word "pauper."
I beg to move in Sub-section (4), line 7 and 8, to delete the words "at any District Court." The prisoner need not necessarily be brought before a District Court.
I beg to move in Sub-section (4), line 9, to delete the word "until" and insert in lieu thereof the words "to a date not later than."
The object is to provide that the prisoner may be brought before a District Justice at an earlier date, if needs be.
I beg to move in Sub-section (4), lines 10 and 11, to delete the words "any Court District in the same or an adjoining county," and to insert in lieu thereof the words "the Court District where such person was arrested."
I do not think that the amendment before this one is a good amendment. It does not say "a date not later than a District Court."
That can be put in if necessary as a verbal amendment at the next stage.
I would like something in the way of clarification of this. An amendment was accepted on the last stage which, subject to a verbal alteration, was intended to ensure that the prisoner would be brought before a Court within a reasonable time. Under the present law I understand a man must be brought before a Court within 7 days. The amendment accepted on the last occasion was to make it possible for such prisoner to be brought before another Court in the same area, or at least in the same county or the next county. As I read the amendment now proposed it may postpone the bringing before the Court of that prisoner for quite a long time, to such a time as would be limited only by the period of time between one Court in a particular district and the next Court in that district, which may be a month or two months. So far as I can see I do not think there is any limit to the period; it certainly may be four weeks, and I think the intention of the Dáil in Committee was to ensure that the prisoner should be brought before the Court, either the Court before which he was first tried, or a neighbouring Court, so as to prove to the public that the man is still alive, or that he is still in custody. I think the amendment does not ensure that, and I would like the Minister to explain the effect of this amendment, and to say what was the intention.
The object of the amendment previous to this was to ensure that a prisoner could be brought before a Justice without waiting for the date of the next District Court. It was introduced in order that the prisoner might not be kept in custody awaiting the sitting of the next District Court.
The sub-section would then read: "(4) Whenever any person charged with having committed an indictable offence is brought before a District Justice it shall be lawful for such District Justice to remand such person to a day not later than the next District Court to be held by him in the Court district where such person was arrested."
It might be a month hence, but it does not ensure that the prisoner will be brought before the Court before that next Court is held.
The object of the amendment is to give the District Justice power to hold a special sitting at an earlier date if the occasion should arise. I admit it does not say he must do it, but he can do it.
That matter was before the Dáil, and the point was raised that the Justice might not sit again in that particular district for a considerable time, but he may be sitting in an adjoining district, and to facilitate and expedite dealing with the man in custody he shall be bound, if necessary, to take up that case the next time he sits, either in his own or in an adjoining district. The clause as passed does give effect to that. It does seem to me that if the amendment now proposed is carried out you get all the possibility of bringing the prisoner up in the Court in an adjoining county or district, and confining him to some Court, which may be a special Court, but one that must be held in the same district.
The object of the amendment as proposed certainly was, that notwithstanding if a man was arrested in one district, if a Court was being held within two or three days in an adjoining district, the prisoner might be brought up there. Whether that was a wise amendment or not I express no opinion. Undoubtedly that was the sense of the Dáil when they passed the new amendment, and the new proposal seems to me to give the benefit to the prisoner.
Clause 3 suggests dividing the county into so many Court districts, and they may be contemplated to be as large as counties.
The amendment would not cause such confusion as to bring a man before a different tribunal, as the clause provides that the trial must be before the same Justice, who has knowledge of the case and knows the facts.