Letter of the Day: Transport Authority not breaching law on seizures
THE EDITOR, Sir:
This is an open letter to Mr Louis Barton, president of the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators.
The Transport Authority uses this medium to clarify its position based on the allegations outlined in your correspondence to Transport Minister Omar Davies of August 7, 2015, about the length of time which elapses before a vehicle seized by the Transport Authority is released.
Unfortunately, the Authority did not receive a copy of the aforementioned correspondence until August 25, 2015, and as such was unable to respond to the concerns, prior to notification by Minister Davies. Nevertheless, the Authority uses this medium to clarify its position on the time frame for court appearances following the seizure of a motor vehicle.
Based on Section 10 of the Justice of Peace Jurisdiction Act, a route inspector should, within six months of the date from which the offence is committed, lay information (document on which criminal charge is submitted) on the offence before the court. If the information is not laid within this time frame, it cannot be placed before the court thereafter.
Where an operator is prosecuted, the Authority's standard procedure is that the information regarding that offence is submitted to court in chronological order. However, there is a maximum number of cases that can be heard by the court at any one sitting. Further, matters presented by the Transport Authority are only heard by the Traffic Court on specific days. Consequently, the court date given to the operator is dependent on the number of cases preceding his/her particular case.
It should be noted that under Section 16 A (1) of the Transport Authority Act (1987), the owner of the vehicle may, under specific circumstance, make an application to the court to have the vehicle released before the matter is determined. This section, however, applies only to vehicles licensed as public passenger vehicles.
In concluding, the Authority underscores the fact that the process used to schedule prosecutions heard by the court is not arbitrary but in keeping with the statutes.
DONALD FOSTER (JP)