SINGAPORE - A lawyer who was earlier charged with engaging in a conspiracy to dupe the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (Sile) had his cheating charge withdrawn in a district court on Friday (April 23).
Sarbrinder Singh Naranjan Singh was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal, which means the 50-year-old Singaporean cannot be charged again with the same offence.
The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said in a statement: "The defence had raised new evidence for the cheating charge, including statutory declarations from Mr Singh's clients, which Mr Singh only provided to the prosecution about 12 months after the charges were preferred.
"The (discharge amounting to an acquittal) was applied for after further investigations into the evidence."
Singh, who was from a firm called Kertar Law, is now at Sanders Law. He had been accused of working together with law graduate Shree Manish Kalra Jeetender Kumar Kalra, now 28, to cheat Sile in 2016.
Kalra's case is still pending. It will be mentioned in court on June 7.
AGC said that the prosecution has applied for Kalra to also be given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for his cheating charge.
Kalra is accused of submitting to Sile a letter which Singh had allegedly signed.
It allegedly contained false information that Kalra had received the "necessary supervised training" at Kertar Law between Oct 11, 2015, and April 11, 2016.
Singh, who was first charged in 2019, told The Straits Times that the past two years were "an extremely challenging and stressful time" for him.
"The charge affected my life, reputation and business. Many of my clients questioned me about the charge. I told my clients I am innocent and will clear my name in court.
"Those who knew me had faith in me. Unfortunately, my firm's business was still affected, but I remained strong and tried to keep positive at all times. I am a strong believer in the rule of law. I believe that justice will prevail, sometimes delayed but delivered in the end," he added.
Singh told ST that he has been a lawyer for more than 25 years and said Kalra was his legal trainee.
The lawyer added: "It is pertinent that my name is cleared. These were vicious allegations made against me which I deny vehemently... Manish is not related to me in any way and I did not know Manish before he became my trainee. I would not be so foolish as to risk my career doing such a stupid act for a total stranger."
Singh still has five other charges against him.
They are: two counts of perverting the course of justice as well as one count each of criminal intimidation, using as genuine a forged document and employing a foreign worker without a work pass.
Singh is accused of employing a foreign woman without a valid work pass in early 2016. Her nationality is not disclosed in court documents.
He allegedly threatened to circulate her explicit photos and videos on March 30 that year.
On two separate occasions in July 2016, Singh allegedly asked two other people to lie to the Commercial Affairs Department, and tell it that they had seen Kalra working at Kertar Law from late 2015 to early 2016.
In February 2017, Singh is also said to have sent via e-mail a forged discharge summary purportedly from one "Himagiri Hospitals" to a police officer.
His lawyer, Mr S. S. Dhillon told the court on Friday that he will be claiming trial to these five charges.
Singh is now out on bail of $40,000 and his case has been adjourned to June 3.