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Report No. 94

7.16. State Courts.-

Until Wolf v. Colorado, (1949) 338 US 25, (reviews comparative practice in other countries also), [overruled in Mapp. v. Ohio, (1961) 367 US 463]., the Supreme Court did not consider whether the exclusionary rule applied in state courts. In that case, the Fourth Amendment was held to be binding on the States, but, six members of the Court voted not to embody the exclusionary rule in the Fourteenth Amendment. Mr. Justice Frankfurther, after a survey of the practice on this point, concluded that "most of the English-speaking world does not regard as vital the exclusion of evidence thus (illegally) obtained". Accordingly, the Court, he said, "must hesitate to treat this remedy as an essential ingredient of the right." If evidence secured by illegal invasion of privacy was nonetheless used in court, the sanctions suggested by Frankfurther, J. were-"the remedies of private action and such protection as the internal discipline of the police, under the eyes of an alert public opinion, may afford."

7.17. In Mapp. v. Chio, (1961) 367 US 463, the Court by a five to three vote, overruled Wolf v. Colorado. Police officers, suspecting that a law violator was hiding in a certain house, broke in the door, manhandled a woman resident, searched the entire premises, and discovered some obscene materials in a trunk. The woman was convicted of possession of these materials. The State Court, pointing out that the objects have not been taken from the defendant's person by brutal or offensive physical force (as in Rochin),1 permitted their use in evidence on the basis of Wolf. But the Supreme Court disposed of Wolf v. Colorado, Justice Clark saying:

"The ignoble short-cut to conviction left open to the State (by Wolf) tends to destroy the entire system of constitutional restraints on which the liberties of the people rest. Having once recognised that the right to privacy embodied in the Fourth Amendment is enforceable against the States, and that the right to be protected against rude invasions of privacy by State officers is, therefore, constitutional in origin, we can no longer permit that right against to remain as an empty promise."

1. Rochin v. California, (1952) 342 US 165.

Evidence Obtained Illegally or Improperly - Proposed Section 166a of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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