Criminal Division

The Attorney-General plays an important role with regard to criminal matters and in certain instances acts in a quasi-judicial manner. He tenders advise, either upon advice being sought or on his own initiative to State Departments, public officers, officers of the Police and other armed forces and officers in Statutory Boards and Public Corporations in respect of any criminal matter of importance or difficulty. Specific provisions have been included mainly in the Code of Criminal Procedure Act No. 75 of 1979 (as amended from time to time) as well as in the Judicature Act No. 2 of 1978 (as amended from time to time). All Indictments against persons accused of serious criminal offences are forwarded to the High Court in the name of the Attorney-General and Section 193 mandates that the prosecution shall be conducted by the Attorney General or the Solicitor General or a State Counsel or by some pleader generally or specially authorized by the Attorney General in that behalf.

Some of the powers vested in the Attorney General are as follows:

  • Direct the Police to institute criminal proceedings in the Magistrates’ Courts.
  • The power to grant sanction to institute criminal prosecutions in respect of certain criminal offences and to grant.
  • sanction to appeal from an order of acquittal by a Magistrate.
  • The power to tender a pardon to accomplices.
  • Power to call for the original record of Magistrate’s Courts and the High Courts.
  • Power to quash a committal made by a Magistrate in Non Summary Proceedings and issue instructions to a Magistrate.
  • Power to direct a Magistrate to commit an accused who has been discharged in Non Summary Proceedings.
  • Order a Magistrate in Non Summary Proceedings to take further evidence as may be specified or to record the evidence of any expert witness.
  • Power in his discretion to inform the High Court that the accused will not be further prosecuted upon the Indictment or any charge therein (enter a “Nolle Prosequai”).
  • Power to transfer any inquiry into or trial of any criminal offence from any court or place to any other court or place.
  • Power to decide the Magistrate’s Court having jurisdiction to try a case when opinion is sought by a Magistrate who is in doubt.
  • The Attorney-General also makes his recommendation to His Excellency the President as to whether or not the sentence of death passed on an accused may be carried out.