Qs & As
Police v Akil Bissessur
* ‘The police far too often forget that once a person is arrested and is taken to court, that person is under the supervisory control and protection of the court’
The search warrant executed on Akil Bissessurand his companion by the Special strikingTeam set up by the police force has raised some questions regarding the methods used and whether they might have stepped outside their procedural bounds. Lex clarifies the legal issues related to this event and in particular powers granted by a magistrate to search premises where there is a sufficiently justified suspicion that some crime may have been committed.
* Many of those who watched live for the first time ever on Facebook must have been stunned at the manner in which a search warrant was conducted and led to the arrest of lawyer Akil Bissessur and his companion, bothprovisionally charged for ‘Drug dealing – Possession of dangerous drug for the purpose of distribution’. Even if the search operation was not illegal, would you say, when viewed from a legal perspective, whether it was done by the book?
The police officers were armed with a warrant to apprehend Akil Bissessur and search the premises where he was located. A search warrant is issued by a magistrate whenever the police presents sufficient evidence to the magistrate that there is reasonable suspicion that an offence might have been committed.
According to section 10 of theDistrict and Intermediate Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act,an officer executing a warrant need not exhibit the warrant unless required to do so by the party designated.
* Even if armed with a warrant, it is expected that police officerswould act in a reasonable manner and not abuse their authority.But what if they have reason to believe that utmost or reasonable care in enforcing the warrant might put them in danger, or allow for the occupants to destroy evidence, or even allow the suspect/s to flee?
Yes, however under section12 of theDistrict and Intermediate Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act,any officer authorised by a warrant to arrest any party charged with a crime or misdemeanour may open any door or window of a dwelling-house in order to execute such warrant, if after notification of his authority and purpose and demand of admittance duly made, he cannot otherwise obtain admittance.
* Has there been any precedent whereby a charge had been dropped due to the unreasonable manner in which a search warrant had been enforced and the court threw out the evidence they found during the search?
There is a principle in the law of evidence that states that illegally obtained evidence will not be admissible as this would go against the fundamental rights of an individual. Illegally obtained evidence is evidence obtained during an illegal search or seizure of goods, or entrapment.
The Supreme Court has ruled that it is not acceptable that the state through its agents should lure its citizens into committing acts forbidden by the law and then seek to prosecute them for doing so. Such conduct would be tantamount to entrapment, a misuse of state power, and an abuse of the process of the courts.
A search with a warrant would not be illegal. The violence, if any, used by the police when entering the premises of Akil Bissessur would not be a ground by itself to exclude any incriminating evidence secured. Read More… Become a Subscriber
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 26 August 2022
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