Dominic v Public Prosecutor

CourtObsolete Court (Malaysia)
Judgment Date24 March 1947
Date24 March 1947
Docket NumberCase No. 179
Malayan Union, Court of Criminal Appeal.

(Willan, C.J., Murray-Aynsley and Spenser-Wilkinson, JJ.)

Case No. 179
Public Prosecutor.

Belligerent Occupation — Inhabitants of Occupied Territory — Continuing Allegiance to Legitimate Sovereign — Treason Committed during Occupation — Law of Malaya.

Belligerent Occupation — Effects of — Law Enacted by Invaded State Prior to Occupation — Continuing Validity — Inhabitants of Occupied Territory — Continuing Allegiance to Legitimate Sovereign — Law of Malaya.

The Facts.—In this case the appellant, P.C. Dominic, was convicted of two offences of treachery contrary to section 3 of the Straits Settlements War Offences Ordinance, 1941, which reads as follows:

“If, with intent to help the enemy, any person does, or attempts or conspires with any other person to do, any act which is designed or likely to give assistance to the naval, military or air operations of the enemy, to impede such operations of His Majesty's forces, or to endanger life, he shall be guilty of treachery and shall on conviction be punishable with death.”

This ordinance came into force on December 22, 1941, about two weeks after the Japanese invaded Malaya, it remained in force throughout the Japanese occupation of Malaya, and was the law in force in the Settlement of Malacca, which is British territory in the Straits Settlements, where the appellant lived and committed the offences of which he was convicted.

The overt acts which were alleged to constitute the appellant's treason were committed while the Japanese forces were in complete occupation of Malaya. It was alleged that by informing against certain sympathisers with the Allied cause the appellant had endangered their lives within the meaning of the Ordinance because he must have known that the persons against whom he had informed would either be tortured or executed by the Japanese authorities.

One of the subsidiary arguments advanced by appellant's Counsel was that the Malayan Courts had no jurisdiction over offences committed during the occupation because the relationship of protector and liege between the Crown and the appellant...

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