(Admin Law, RTC, judicial power)
Facts: Petitioner filed a complaint for libel against respondents. Finding probable cause, the Prosecutor filed the corresponding Information against them, but reversed its earlier finding and recommended the withdrawal of the Information.
Relying on the recommendation o f the prosecutor, the RTC ordered the criminal case dismissed on the ground that it is a settled rule that the determination of the persons to be prosecuted rests primarily with the Public Prosecutor who is vested with quasi-judicial discretion in the discharge of this function. Being vested with such power, he can reconsider his own resolution if he finds that there is reasonable ground to do so.
However, upon petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, the RTC granted the same and reinstated the case after the DOJ Secretary reversed the resolution of the prosecutor.
Issue: Whether or not the RTC judge necessarily has to make an independent evaluation or assessment of the merits of the case.
Held: Yes. Well-entrenched is the rule that once a case is filed with the court, any disposition of it rests on the sound discretion of the court. In thus resolving a motion to dismiss a case or to withdraw an Information, the trial court should not rely solely and merely on the findings of the public prosecutor or the Secretary of Justice. It is the court’s bounden duty to assess independently the merits of the motion, and this assessment must be embodied in a written order disposing of the motion. While the recommendation of the prosecutor or the ruling of the DOJ Secretary is persuasive, it is not binding on courts.
By relying solely on the manifestation of the public prosecutor and the resolution of the DOJ Secretary, the trial court abdicated its judicial power and refused to perform a positive duty enjoined by law. The said Orders were thus stained with grave abuse of discretion and violated the complainant’s right to due process. They were void, had no legal standing, and produced no effect whatsoever