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Derek Achong

A man from Point Fortin, who was wrongfully denied bail after being charged with assaulting a minor, is set to receive compensation from the State.

Earlier this week, High Court Judge James Aboud upheld a lawsuit in which Peter Bharat claimed that his constitutional right to bail was infringed by court staff at the Point Fortin Magistrates’ Court when they denied his bail despite him meeting the necessary criteria.

While Bharat scored the legal victory, Aboud did not calculate the compensation owed to him and instead referred the issue to a High Court Master.

According to the evidence, on February 12, officers of the Point Fortin Borough Corporation’s Municipal Police visited Bharat’s home to arrest him for assaulting the 10-year-old.

Bharat was not at home and police when to the restaurant where Bharat worked and arrested him.

Bharat was initially released from police custody after a Justice of the Peace visited the station and granted him $25,000 station bail.

When Bharat eventually appeared before a magistrate, his station bail was revoked and he was granted $75,000 surety bail.

Bharat’s mother attempted to present a certified cheque in the sum to the magistracy registrar assigned to the court but was told that she needed a document confirming the source of the funds.

When she presented the document, she was then informed that a deed for a property valued over the bail sum was required as surety and a certified cheque is used when an individual is granted a cash alternative.

Bharat’s attorneys Gerald Ramdeen, Dayadai Harripaul, and Umesh Maharaj then filed the lawsuit challenging the decision and Bharat was released the following day after a hearing before High Court Judge Frank Seepersad.

In the lawsuit, which was subsequently transferred to Aboud, his attorneys claimed that the Bail (Access to Bail) (Amendment) Act 2017, which was proclaimed in February last year, provided various methods for securing bail including the use of a certified cheque.

In response to the claim, the registrar admitted that he was not aware of the provisions of the legislation at the time and that he applied the policy which was employed prior to it taking effect.

The State was represented by Savitri Maharaj and Trisha Ramlogan.