Who should bear the costs?

Provisional Charges Dropped

The Curepipe Court decided on Tuesday last to drop the charges on which the two daughters and son-in-law of Dawood Rawat were arrested following the dismantling of the BAI group as from early April 2015. The representative of the DPP stated in court that he had no objection to the charges not being taken forward.

It may be recalled that the offences reproached to the three persons in question related, amongst others, to laundering of money, fraudulent overseas transfer of company funds and misrepresentation of company accounts to deceive the public. In the light of those ‘provisional charges’ the three persons were both placed under arrest and prohibited to leave Mauritius. They have, after months of waiting, been freed from these restrictions by the court after the ‘provisional charges’ were dropped.

One is not certain whether the police did their work as thoroughly as they should have before arresting the concerned persons on the specified charges. The turn events took last Tuesday suggests that this might not have been the case. The consequence is moral and material damage suffered by the concerned persons in the interval.

Now, ministers and public office holders who help press such charges without going the full length to substantiate them are more often than not out of the offices they occupied at the time the un-sustained charges were levelled. A question arises as to how such persons may be made to account for questionable charges raised against people who are put under arrest and not allowed to leave the country over a long period of time.

It may be recalled that Mr Rundheersing Bheenick, the previous Governor of the Bank of Mauritius, was subjected to ignominy as well as prohibition to leave the country so long the ‘provisional charges’ did not get cleared in court. The court subsequently released him from those charges. He has instituted a claim in damages for false charges levelled against him and he may well win his case.

The question again arises as to who will bear the consequences of such claims in damages if and when established by the law courts? It looks terribly unfair to let go of those who initiated the actions and ask the taxpayer to pick up the bill for the claims in damages.

The question is whether the police, by acting under the influence or not fully substantiated statements made by ministers and public officers, proceeding to arrest persons under ‘provisional charges’ which are subsequently quashed in courts, are not deliberately misled. If so, is it possible to charge those who made unsubstantiated statements to the police in the first place and hold them accountable, irrespective of whether they hold the office or cease to do so, for subsequent claims in damages of the ‘victims’ of this situation, unless they convincingly prove that they acted in good faith in the light of solid evidence rather than on trumped-up charges?

M.K.

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