Sunday, July 25, 2021

Singapore court rules govt immune from suit by 22 inmates over leaked letters

The suit was dismissed yesterday with costs of S$10.

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The Singapore High Court has dismissed – with a S$10 cost – a suit by 22 death row inmates against the government over the unauthorised disclosure of privileged and confidential documents between them and their lawyers.

The court yesterday ruled that the government cannot be taken to court, citing the Government Proceeding Act, a controversial law which spares the government from being held liable.

Judge See Kee Oon also said that the court was not the right forum for such actions, adding that the inmates are precluded from such applications against the attorney-general (AG), Channel NewsAsia reported.

He said the disciplinary proceedings alluded to by the inmates should instead be held at the Law Society’s Disciplinary Tribunal.

Adding that the disclosures sought were “neither necessary nor relevant”, he said the inmates “may potentially have a cause of action against the government through a civil action filed against the AG”.

Vocal human rights lawyer M Ravi initiated the suit on behalf of the 22 inmates following an admission by the attorney-general that the prisoners’ correspondence with their lawyers had been forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

In 2018, the Singapore Prison Service forwarded five letters by death row inmate Syed Suhail Syed Zin to the AGC – four written to his uncle and one to his defence counsel over an appeal against his death sentence.

Last year, death row inmate Datchinamurthy Kataiah also complained to the Court of Appeal that the prison had forwarded to the AGC copies of documents from his relatives.

The majority of the 22 inmates are set to hang for drug trafficking offences.

They are:

1. Syed Suhail Syed Zin
2. Gobi Avedian
3. Datchinamurthy Kataiah
4. Moad Fadzir Mustaffa
5. Hamzah Ibrahim
6. Iskandar Rahmat
7. Lingkesvaran Rajendaren
8. Norasharee Gous
9. Nazeri Lajim
10. Saminathan Selvaraju
11. Rosman Abdullah
12. Roslan Bakar
13. Masoud Rahimi Mehrzad
14. Zamri Mohd Tahir
15. Pannir Selvam Pranthaman
16. Fazali Mohamed
17. Rahmat Karimon
18. Tan Kay Yong
19. Ramdhan Lajis
20. Jumaat Mohamed Sayed
21. Tangaraju Suppiah
22. Muhammad Faizal Mohd Shariff

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