REVISITING PETITION CAUSE NO.406OF 2020: DOES EVIDENCE PROCURED BY A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FROM SECRETLY INSTALLED CCTV CAMERAS AND VOICE RECORDERS IN A MATRIMONIAL HOME OFFEND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE AND AMOUNTS TO ILLEGALLY OBTAINED EVIDENCE?
On April 19th 2021 Mrima, J, virtually delivered a ruling.
Petition cause no.406 of 2020 makes a very interesting read of the case laws. In my considered view, it is one of the most well ventilated Court decisions, pointing eternally to flagrant development of our Jurisprudence.
The trial Court dealt extensively and with refine details on the issue of the jurisdiction of the Court citing compelling authorities.
The trial Court’s decision couldn’t have come at a better time. We live in an epoch where many families are being broken down based on illegally obtained evidence or information. In some, extreme instances lives have been lost, bodies maimed, careers are shattered and children are subjected to untold trauma.
The trial Court addressed the thorny issue of children’s custody and welfare in the event that a divorce cause comes to fruition.
The Petitioner Renita Choda and the Respondent Kirit Kapur, were once a happily married couple. But as fate would have it, their union took a turn for the worse in the year 2019. And as result the respondent instituted a divorce cause fronting two grounds in support of the cause; namely, adultery and cruelty by the Petitioner.
It was on the basis of the evidence so adduced that sets the tempo for a grueling contest in the trial Court. The respondent produced a voluminous bundles of documents derived from emails, audio and video recordings/transcripts, Flash drive data, photographs, Mobile phone messages, Whatsapp text Messages, CCTV footages and social media conversations all belonging and/ or having a bearing on the goings-on in the life of the Petitioner.
The Petitioner, in the subject of this judgement adversely challenged the manner in which some of the alleged evidence was obtained.
The petitioner, while claiming violation of her inalienable rights to fair trial under Article 25 of The Constitution, further asserted that, the respondent’s conduct violates her right to privacy and dignity as guaranteed under Articles 31 and 28 of the Constitution respectively.
The issues for determination inter alia were:
- The nature and admissibility of illegally obtained evidence in Civil disputes.
- Whether the Respondent illegally obtained the contested evidence.
The trial Court while ruled that even where the police are authorized under the Law to carry out investigations on private individuals ( DPP vs Philomena Mwilu) they cannot do so without their consent. The Court appreciated the ensuing anarchy that comes with such unfettered freedom whereby individuals are allowed to carry private investigations against. The social fabric that behinds the society will be in tatters.
The trial Court ordered that the illegally obtained evidence be expunged.