Unusual for MP to intervene in court case

It is not uncommon for MPs to write appeals, on behalf of their residents, for the reduction or waiver of traffic fines, where the letters are sent directly to the Traffic Police.

But I think it is rare for MPs to write appeal letters directly to the judiciary on behalf of their residents.

I ask this as a matter of public interest: Do MPs have the right to write to a judge or a court regarding a case, criminal or otherwise? Can they write to the Attorney-General to plead for leniency on behalf of their constituents?

As far as I know, during Meet-the-People Sessions, requests concerning court cases are not accepted and the standard procedure is to ask the appellant to seek help from legal clinics or legal aid bureaus.

The courts should not be, or seen to be, subject to influence from MPs, as judicial independence is vital and important to the separation of constitutional powers.

Wouldn't such a letter be a breach of protocol? And all the more so, as it is based on only the appellant's side of the story, which could be factually incorrect?

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2018, with the headline 'Unusual for MP to intervene in court case'. Print Edition | Subscribe