SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal has dismissed a bid by former policeman Iskandar Rahmat, who is on death row for the Kovan double murder, to intervene in an unrelated murder case.
The 43-year-old, who killed a father and son during a botched robbery in 2013, was convicted of two counts of murder in 2015. His appeal was dismissed in 2017.
In June, represented by lawyer M. Ravi, Iskandar filed an application to intervene in the case of Teo Ghim Heng, 46. The latter was convicted last year of strangling his pregnant wife and their four-year-old daughter in their Woodlands flat in 2017.
Iskandar wanted to participate in Teo's pending appeal, so that he can make an additional argument to support the latter's constitutional challenge against two homicide-related provisions.
In a judgment on Tuesday (Sept 21), the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Justices Judith Prakash and Steven Chong, said there was no legal basis for Iskandar's application.
The court added that it has no jurisdiction to allow litigants to intervene in an unrelated proceeding just because they have an interest in a legal point raised in that case.
"To hold otherwise would open the floodgates to litigation, as a point of law canvassed in almost any given case may ultimately affect the decision of any other case," said the court.
It noted that contrary to Iskandar's arguments, the intervention sought was not "incidental to or supportive of" Teo's appeal. The two cases involving Iskandar and Teo were "factually distinct and completely unrelated".
To grant Iskandar's intended intervention would be tantamount to allowing an offender, who had already exhausted his appeal options, to bypass the strict conditions governing review applications, said the court.
It added that there is no precedent or legislative mechanism allowing a party - even a related one - to intervene in another criminal proceeding, except for the Attorney-General's power to do so in private prosecutions.
The court pointed out that intervention in criminal proceedings could be a "fruitless endeavour" and was susceptible to abuse.
Even if a person intervenes in another criminal proceeding, its outcome would not determine the intervener's criminal liability.
On rare occasions when alleged accomplices are not tried together, the proper response would be to apply for the accused persons to be tried together, rather than to seek intervention, said the court.
It added that it was the prerogative of Teo and his counsel to decide on the arguments to be made in his appeal.
The court warned that suits and applications filed recklessly without any legitimate basis could result in cost consequences for the applicant or even his counsel and could, in egregious cases, cause counsel to face disciplinary proceedings.
"In the present case, we were not merely concerned with unmeritorious arguments arising from a suit or an application which had been properly filed, but had to deal with an application which was entirely devoid of legal foundation."