Taxi Driver is Not Out of the Woods: New Trial for Assaulting a police officer
5 Mars 2012 - Défi Media Group
The intermediate court had removed the charge of aggravated assault against a taxi driver on the basis of irregularities in the police investigation.
This decision was overturned by the Supreme Court, which referred the case to the intermediate court. But now the accused will be prosecuted for assault.
Surendra Lobin, a taxi driver may have thought no more to do with justice after the cancellation by the intermediate court, the charge of aggravated assault which had been brought against him. He was wrong. He will face a new trial. This has been decided the judges and Eddy Balancy devat Nirmala, in a judgment delivered on Friday 2 March, the Supreme Court.
The cab driver was arrested on 14 November 2005 on the tarmac of Sir Seewoosagur International Airport Ramgoolam, in Plaisance. Surendra Lobin had clashed with the police officer John. He had parked his car in a prohibited area. The officer pointed out to him and asked him to park further. The taxi driver had ignored orders from police.
Constable John took out his notebook and pen to identify the number of the taxi license plate. He intended to take Surendra Lobin contrary. According to the policeman, seeing the pen, the driver returned to his car and started with a bang before stopping a few feet away, next to a shop. In doing so, said John Constable, Surendra Lobin was wounded in the arm with his vehicle. The policeman said he could not use his arm for more than 20 days.
In court, Surendra Lobin had conceded to have had a clash with the police report, but denied having caused the injury in question. Of course, his version was rejected by the intermediate court, but the taxi driver was not convicted. The magistrate found several gray areas in the police investigation. In particular, it found that Constable John has interfered with the investigation because he wanted at any price the taxi driver is prosecuted and convicted. He also expressed reservations about the severity of the injury of John Constable.
In its ruling, the judge explained that the injury did not require 20 days of leave. For her, it is clear that the officer who had been examined by a private physician, had embarked on a "fishing expedition" to obtain several additional days of sick leave. It is therefore concluded that the charge of aggravated assault did not match the injuries sustained by John Constable.
The DPP appealed against the judgment. On Friday he won the case Judges Eddy Balancy and Nirmala Devat concluded that the magistrate had " “ read more into the evidence than was justified and thereby drew the wrong conclusions “. They added that the findings of the magistrate on the irregularities in the police investigation and the interference of John Constable are unjustified. " We are at a complete loss to comprehend the reasoning of the learned magistrate ," it said in the judgment of the Supreme Court.
Judges Balancy and Devat, however, felt that the judge was correct in concluding that the prosecution of aggravated assault was not proved by the prosecution. But the judges emphasized that the judge could sentence the defendant under a load of " simple agression".
" In view of our conclusions (…) we quash the order of the dismissal and remit the matter to the learned magistrate with a direction to enter a conviction of simple assault against Surendra Lobin and to pass sentence accordingly ", said the two judges.