Bache and Co., vs. Ruiz GR No. L-32409 February 27, 1971 37 SCRA 323 (1971)

Fact: Respondent Commissioner, wrote a letter to respondent Judge Ruiz requesting the issuance of a search warrant against petitioners for violation of the National Internal Revenue Code, in relation to all other pertinent provisions thereof, and authorizing a Revenue Examiner to make and file the application for search warrant which was attached to the letter. In the afternoon of the following day, respondent De Leon and his witness, respondent Logronio, went to the Court of First Instance of Rizal. They brought with them the following papers: respondent Vera’s aforesaid letter-request; an application for search warrant already filled up but still unsigned by respondent De Leon; an affidavit of respondent Logronio subscribed before respondent De Leon; a deposition in printed form of respondent Logronio already accomplished and signed by him but not yet subscribed; and a search warrant already accomplished but still unsigned by respondent Judge. At that time respondent Judge was hearing a certain case; so, by means of a note, he instructed his Deputy Clerk of Court to take the depositions of respondents De Leon and Logronio. After the session had adjourned, respondent Judge was informed that the depositions had already been taken. The stenographer, upon request of respondent Judge, read to him her stenographic notes; and thereafter, respondent Judge asked respondent Logronio to take the oath and warned him that if his deposition was found to be false and without legal basis, he could be charged for perjury. Respondent Judge signed respondent de Leon’s application for search warrant and respondent Logronio’s deposition, Search Warrant was then sign by respondent Judge and accordingly issued. Three days later, the BIR agents served the search warrant petitioners at the offices of petitioner corporation. Petitioners’ lawyers protested the search on the ground that no formal complaint or transcript of testimony was attached to the warrant. The agents nevertheless proceeded with their search which yielded six boxes of documents. Petitioners filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal praying that the search warrant be quashed, dissolved or recalled, that preliminary prohibitory and mandatory writs of injunction be issued, that the search warrant be declared null and void, and that the respondents be ordered to pay petitioners, jointly and severally, damages and attorney’s fees. On March 18, 1970, the respondents, thru the Solicitor General, filed an answer to the petition. After hearing, the court, presided over by respondent Judge, issued on July 29, 1970, an order dismissing the petition for dissolution of the search warrant. Hence, Petitioners came to this Court.

Issue: Whether a corporation is entitled to protection against unreasonable search and seizure?

Held: Yes,  A corporation is, after all, but an association of individuals under an assumed name and with a distinct legal entity. In organizing itself as a collective body it waives no constitutional immunities appropriate to such body. Its property cannot be taken without compensation. It can only be proceeded against by due process of law, and is protected against unlawful discrimination. we are of the opinion that an officer of a corporation which is charged with a violation of a statute of the state of its creation, or of an act of Congress passed in the exercise of its constitutional powers, cannot refuse to produce the books and papers of such corporation, we do not wish to be understood as holding that a corporation is not entitled to immunity, against unreasonable searches and seizures.

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