Businessman Adrian Scoon has been given the green light to sue the Justice of the Peace (JP) that granted a warrant to police officers to search his Maraval home as part of their investigation into whether he breached ongoing public health regulations by allegedly operating a party boat.
High Court Judge Ricky Rahim yesterday granted Scoon leave to pursue his judicial review lawsuit against JP Oliver Boodhu over the search warrant that was executed last Wednesday.
According to his court filings, obtained by Guardian Media, Scoon is claiming the warrant, issued by Boodhu on December 29, was null and void as it contradicted the terms of the Summary Courts Act.
“The said warrant was issued in the absence of any grounds and/or evidence upon which such a decision could be made and is therefore irrational, unreasonable, and disproportionate,” Scoon’s lawyer Stefan Ramkissoon said.
Ramkissoon also alleged that the issuance of the warrant constituted an abuse of power and an improper exercise of Boodhu’s discretion.
“The Intended Defendant’s decision to issue a search warrant for the extraction of data from computers/tablets/cellular phones and other like devices is ultra vires the Summary Courts Act and/or in excess of the Intended Defendant’s jurisdiction and/or power,” he added.
Included in the court filings was a transcript of the complaint under oath given by the police officer, who obtained and executed the warrant.
In the complaint, acting Inspector Clifton Ramjattan, of the Carenage Police Station, stated that he and investigators needed access to Scoon’s electronic devices as they had reasonable grounds to believe that they contained evidence that he (Scoon) was committing offences under the Public Health (2019 Novel Coronavirus) (No 24) Regulations 2021.
Through the lawsuit, Scoon is seeking a declaration over the Boodhu’s decision and an order quashing it.
In his affidavit attached to the lawsuit, Scoon claimed that when Ramjattan and his colleagues executed the search warrant on his Maraval home he was initially arrested and placed in a police vehicle.
“The officers proceeded over the Morne Coco Road with me and while proceeding along the road, they suddenly made a U-turn and headed back to the direction from which we came and eventually took me back home,” Scoon said.
He claimed that when he was taken back to his home, he was shown several search warrants for other properties including his office and two former residences, which he occupied in the past.
“I felt embarrassed and violated because of the said incident. The officers detained me for no reason and seized documents which I would have provided voluntarily,” he said.
Scoon, the son of Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, came under scrutiny after police raided his “Seaside Brunch” event on board the MV Ocean Pelican on Boxing Day for allegedly breaching the regulations, which prohibits the operation of party boats.
Scoon denied any wrongdoing as he claimed that the vessel was converted to a safe zone under the regulations.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert weighed in on the issue as he confirmed that he had not authorised special restaurant liquor licences for the vessel or Scoon.
Officials from the Customs and Excise Division then wrote the Scoon’s legal team informing them that the two special restaurant liquor licences remained null and void and would be cancelled. They have since been returned.
In his affidavit, Scoon said that his legal team had sent correspondence to Imbert and the division challenging their position and is awaiting responses.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi was also identified in the issue as newspaper reports revealed that he had a telephone conversation with Scoon, while he (Scoon) was being questioned by police after they stopped the event.
Al-Rawi has admitted to having a conversation but has repeatedly denied giving Scoon legal advice on the issue or seeking to influence the police investigation.
Scoon is also being represented by Kiel Taklalsingh.