A municipal court judge has ruled that local activist Jaggi Singh did not need to be fingerprinted in a case where he was charged with mischief following an occupation of Canada Border Service Agency’s offices in Montreal in May.
Judge Randall Richmond ruled on Friday after hearing arguments on a motion Singh filed in September. As part of the motion, Singh argued it is illegal to take mug shots and fingerprints of people arrested for summary offences. He also argued that all such records, in every previous case ever held at the Montreal municipal courthouse, should be destroyed.
In his 19-page decision, Richmond stated that he did not have the jurisdiction to rule on Singh’s sweeping requests pertaining to previous cases, limiting himself to the case at hand, in which he ruled that Singh did not need to be fingerprinted. Singh was hoping for a precedent-setting decision that could have impacted future cases.
The process through which the Crown can decide to proceed with a case with or without an indictment is complicated. Richmond determined that in Singh’s case, it is clear the prosecution planned to proceed summarily (without the right to a jury trial) all along. The prosecutor in the case tried to argue that the choice is not irrevocable until a verdict is delivered. But Richmond determined “this position is untenable.”
“I am convinced that the fingerprinting of the defendant Jaggi Singh was not important to the Crown when it decided what charges to authorize and what mode of prosecution to elect,” Richmond wrote.
Singh faces four charges in connection with the protest, in which he and 17 other protesters — part of a group called Solidarity Across Borders — occupied CBSA offices on May 3. The group was protesting against deportations. After Richmond made his decision, Singh entered a not guilty plea to all of the charges.
The case against Singh and the other protesters returns to court on Oct. 21.