Darmalingum v The State: PC 10 Jul 2000

(Mauritius) The constitutional right of a defendant to have his case tried within a reasonable time applied not just to the initial trial but also to any appeal arising from that trial. Where there had been inordinate and inexcusable delay between the suspects first arrest and his trial, and also after trial and before the hearing of his appeal should properly lead to the conviction being overturned. The constitution should be ready in a purposive rather than a technical way. The right to a fair hearing is one of three separate guarantees contained in section 10(1) of the constitution, along with he right to a hearing within a reasonable time and to a hearing by an independent and impartial court established by law.
A delay of 15 years was inordinate and inexcusable.
The defendant had had the shadow of proceedings hanging over him for about 15 years and there was therefore manifestly a flagrant breach of section 10(1). As to the reedy, Lord Steyn said: ‘The normal remedy for a failure of this particular guarantee, viz the reasonable time guarantee, would be to quash the conviction. That is, of course, the remedy for a breach of the two other requirements of section 10(1), viz (1) a fair hearing and (2) a trial before an independent and impartial court. Counsel for the prosecution argued however that the appropriate remedy in this case is to affirm the conviction and to remit the matter of sentence to the Supreme Court so that it may substitute a non-custodial sentence in view of the delay. The basis of this submission was that the guilt of the defendant is obvious and that it would therefore be wrong to allow him to escape conviction. This argument largely overlooks the importance of the constitutional guarantee as already explained. Their Lordships do not wish to be overly prescriptive on this point. They do not suggest that there may not be circumstances in which it might arguably be appropriate to affirm the conviction but substitute a non-custodial sentence, eg in a case where there had been a plea of guilty or where the inexcusable delay affected convictions on some counts but not others. But their Lordships are quite satisfied that the only disposal which will properly vindicate the constitutional rights of the defendant in the present case would be the quashing of the convictions.’
Lord Steyn
Times 18-Jul-2000, [2000] UKPC 30, Appeal No 42 of 1999, [2000] 1 WLR 2303
Bailii, PC
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedDyer v Watson and Burrows PC 29-Jan-2002
Parties challenged the compliance of proceedings with the convention where there had been considerable delay.
Held: The reasonable detention provision (article 5(3)) and the reasonable time requirement (article 6(1)) conferred free-standing . .
DistinguishedMills v HM Advocate and Another PC 22-Jul-2002
(The High Court of Justiciary) The defendant appealed on the basis that the delay in the sentencing process had resulted in an infringement of his human rights.
Held: The appeal itself had been without merit. The delay had been to such an . .
CitedAaron v The Law Society (the Office of the Supervision of Solicitors) QBD 13-Oct-2003
The appellant challenged an order suspending him from practice as a solicitor for two years. He had previous findings of professional misconduct in failing to pay counsels’ fees. In the course of later disciplinary proceedings he was found to have . .
CitedRamawat Dosoruth v The State of Mauritius The Director of Public Prosecutions PC 21-Oct-2004
PC (Mauritius) The defendant challenged his conviction for having taken a bribe saying there had been an injustice, and seeking protection directly under the constitution. The evidence against him was that a . .
CitedO’Neill v Her Majesty’s Advocate No 2 SC 13-Jun-2013
The appellants had been convicted of murder, it being said that they had disposed of her body at sea. They now said that the delay between being first questioned and being charged infringed their rights to a trial within a reasonable time, and . .
CitedGadd, Regina v QBD 10-Oct-2014
The prosecutor sought leave to bring a voluntary bill of indictment, to pursue historic sex abuse allegations against the defendant. The defendant objected to counts founded on facts which were the substance of a charge of indecent assault . .
CitedJ, Regina v CACD 2-Jul-2001
Orse Attorney General’s Reference No 2 of 2001
The AG sought to appeal from the decision that an indictment against the seven defendants should be stayed on the ground that there had been a breach of Article 6(1). They were accused of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 03 September 2021; Ref: scu.159418