Stonehill v Diokno; G.R. No. L-19550; 19 Jun 1967; 20 SCRA 383

FACTS:
Respondent judges on different dates issued a total of 42 search warrants against the petitioners and/or the companies of which they were officers, directing any peace officers to search the persons of the petitioners and/or the premises of their offices, warehouses and/or residences and to seize and take possession of “books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, correspondence, receipts, ledgers, journals, portfolios, credit journals, typewriters, and other documents and/or papers showing all business transactions including disbursements receipts, balance sheets and profit and loss statements and Bobbins (cigarette wrappers)” as “the subject of the offense; stolen or embezzled and proceeds or fruits of the offense,” or “used or intended to be used as the means of committing the offense,” which is described in the applications adverted to above as “violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and the Revised Penal Code.”

ISSUE(S):
Whether or not petitioners may assail the legality of the contested warrants and of the seizures of documents, papers and other items in their offices in their individual capacity.

RULING:
NO. Corporations have their respective personalities, separate and distinct from the personality of herein petitioners, regardless of the amount of shares of stock or of the interest of each of them in said corporations, and whatever the offices they hold therein may be. The legality of a seizure can be contested only by the party whose rights have been impaired thereby, and that the objection to an unlawful search and seizure is purely personal and cannot be availed of by third parties. The right to object to the admission of said papers in evidence belongs exclusively to the corporations, to whom the seized effects belong, and may not be invoked by the corporate officers in proceedings against them in their individual capacity.

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Category: Legal Chyme

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