He was charged with driving “with” a number plate attached to his vehicle, an “offence” which Senior Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan found was not known in law.
Sooknanan appeared before Rambachan in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court holding a traffic ticket in his hand.
Asked his name, the magistrate then read out the charge which were the words reflected on the ticket Sooknanan held in his hands. It alleged in part: “That on December 10, 2007, at Plaisance Park, St Margarets Village, you drove PK... “with” a front Identification Plate.” The “charge” was laid contrary to the provisions of the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act.
A bemused Rambachan examined the ticket and remarked: “This is nonsensical. Seems you have been charged with obeying the law. Look at this Mr Prosecutor.” Sergeant Russell Ramoutar examined the document and muttered to the magistrate that it was a mistake.
Perhaps the charge, Rambachan said, ought to have read “something else”. It was laid by WPC Mohammed, but commenting that such a charge does not exist in law, the magistrate told Sooknanan that the law may have made a fool of him, for indeed no one can be charged with obeying the law. “It is simply nonsensical, and obeying the law is not a charge,” he added.
Rambachan did not call upon Sooknanan to plead to the charge, for to do so, he added, would make a further fool of the defendant.
Normally, traffic tickets can be amended if the vehicle number is incorrectly stated, or the place where the offence occurred. Any fact which does not affect the truthfulness of the offence committed can be amended. However, the particulars of an offence cannot be changed.
Prosecutor Ramoutar informed the court, the police officer who issued Sooknanan the ticket inadvertently omitted the syllable “out” in writing the word “without”. With a perplexed look on his face, Sooknanan attempted to plead guilty, but was prompted by other traffic ticket holders sitting in court, to remain silent.
Rambachan told him that he was free to go. Sooknanan, waving the ticket in his hand, asked the magistrate what he should do with the “legal” ticket and Rambachan said: “Frame it, because they charged you with obeying the law.”