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Zokirjon Abdusattarov CCL Student Case Brief

Vehicle Searches Case

CC decision no.76-78 DC of 12 January 1977.

Background: Parliament adopted an amendment which gave broad powers to police at a time of

kidnappings by terrorist gangs1.

Issue: 1) Is giving an officer of the judicial police an authority to search vehicles compatible

with the Constitution? 2) If yes, are there restrictions and/or conditions for conducting search in

the Constitutions? 3) Is the bill presented to Constitutional Council compatible with the


Ruling: 1) Yes, the Constitutional Council came to conclusion that giving an officer of the

judicial police a power to search vehicles is constitutional insofar a vehicle which is to be

searched is on a public road and either the driver or the owner of the vehicle is present. 2) Yes,

there must be restrictions to the law which gives search warrant to the police. 3) No, the bill

presented is not compatible with the Constitution.

Reasoning: In Council’s view, vehicle search powers which are to be vested with the police

must be clear cut both with regard to their extent and to the conditions2, unrestricted nature of

search powers limits individual liberty, which is recognized by the laws of the Republic and

proclaimed by the Preamble to the 1946 Constitution, confirmed by the Preamble to the 1958

Constitution. In reaching its decision, the Constitutional Council has taken into account the view

of commissaire du gouvernement,Corneille3. According to him, freedom of individuals is the rule

and restrictions by the police are exceptions, which should be exercised under restriction

circumstances for public safety.

John Bell, French Constitutional Law, 1992, p. 141

Zokirjon Abdusattarov CCL Student Case Brief

Impact of the Case: In this case, Constitutional Council for the first time recognized individual

liberty and has given to it constitutional value. It was an important and initial step in the

development of the right to individual liberty. In later cases, like in Security and Liberty case, the

right has further developed.