Singapore has always taken a zero-tolerance approach toward drug abuse and trafficking.
The country’s firm stance was demonstrated in April when Nagaenthran, a Malaysian, was executed for trafficking drugs after spending more than 10 years on death row.
On Wednesday (25 May), the two lawyers who represented Nagaenthran Dharmalingam were ordered to pay S$20,000 to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
The Court of Appeal said they had tried to postpone the drug trafficker’s execution by filing numerous unmeritorious applications, which caused it to incur unnecessary costs.
One of the lawyers, M Ravi, rejected such claims and defended his efforts in trying to help Nagaenthran reverse his death sentence.
According to The Straits Times (ST), the Court of Appeal ordered the lawyers of Nagaenthran’s lawyers to pay S$20,000 to the AGC.
The AGC had originally sought personal costs of S$40,000 against Ravi and Ms Violet Netto.
Under the law, the court can order a lawyer to pay personal costs if he believes he has acted in an improper, unreasonable or negligent manner that caused unnecessary expenses to be incurred.
Instead of putting forward their best case from the get-go, the lawyers slowly presented supposed evidence and submitted documents at the last minute.
On 25 May, the Court of Appeal, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, said it would be apparent to any reasonable defence counsel that the case fought by the two lacked a factual basis.
The court said the way the case had been handled was a “blatant and egregious abuse” of its process.
In total, Nagaenthran had made seven applications to challenge his death sentence. M Ravi had filed two such applications to delay the sentence.
The main argument was that it could not be meted out because of his mental disability, as argued by Ms Netto and assisted by M Ravi on 1 Mar.
On 29 Mar, the court dismissed the legal actions and said the case was baseless and there was “no admissible evidence” that Nagaenthran’s mental condition had worsened.
Therefore, M Ravi, who had done most of the work, was ordered to bear 75% of the costs. Meanwhile, Ms Netto, who took over as the lawyer on record later, was asked to pay 25% of the costs.
According to Malaysia Now, lawyer M Ravi said he stood by his efforts to defend Nagaenthran and rejected the accusations in response to the order.
History will be with me and will judge me.
According to court papers seen by MalaysiaNow, Ravi defended the way he had tried to stop Nagaenthran’s execution and said the personal cost order was too harsh.
The question of the execution of persons with low IQ or intellectual disabilities is of public importance and is a novel point as well. To ask that the applicant’s counsel and former counsel be dealt with an iron fist with a personal cost order is too harsh in the circumstances, to say the least.
Ravi had also faced various professional disciplinary inquiries, which could result in him being fined, suspended or struck off as a lawyer.
These include three court of contempt proceedings and several police investigations.
These disciplinary measures were attributed to his years of work in defending the rights of drug traffickers in Singapore, including Nagaenthran.
Perhaps the lawyers argued Nagaenthran’s cases with the best of intentions.
However, the court also has the duty of ensuring legal proceedings are properly carried out so that resources will not be wasted.
Hopefully, the S$20,000 penalty will remind lawyers all cases need to be handled according to court processes.
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Featured image courtesy of MS News.
She thanks everyone who helped her in one way or another.
She said this would be her first & last time patronising the stall.
Efficient public transport & more attractive lifestyles were also some of the reasons cited.
Various alumni had fond memories of the gentle and kind stallowner.
The whole process is said to take less than five minutes.
She now urges everyone to be kind with the elderly.