High Court strikes out bid by death row inmates to commit Home Affairs Minister for alleged contempt: AGC

The application by 17 death row inmates was struck out by the court on Nov 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - The High Court has dismissed an application by 17 death row inmates to start contempt of court proceedings against Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam.

The application related to comments Mr Shanmugam made about an ongoing civil case filed by the inmates alleging racial bias during the parliamentary debate on the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (Fica) on Oct 4.

On Wednesday (Nov 17), the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said in a statement that the application was struck out by the court on Tuesday.

The AGC added that it will be seeking personal costs against Mr Cheng Kim Kuan, the lawyer in charge of the case on record, and Mr M. Ravi, who practises at Mr Cheng's firm.

The 17 inmates, represented by Mr Ravi, filed an application against the Attorney-General in August contending that they had been discriminated against as people of Malay ethnicity by the imposition of the death penalty against them.

On Oct 4, Mr Shanmugam made reference to the case in his speech during the parliamentary debate on Fica.

On Oct 11, a court application was filed by law firm K. K. Cheng Law on behalf of the inmates, seeking to commit Mr Shanmugam for alleged contempt of court.

Mr Ravi then posted about the application on his personal Facebook page.

"Within the same day, AGC informed the court that the application had no legal basis. On Oct 13, 2021, AGC applied to strike out the application," said the AGC statement.

Seven of the inmates are part of another group of 13 prisoners who filed a civil suit against the Attorney-General in July, seeking damages for breach of confidence and copyright infringement.

The inmates involved in this case, also represented by Mr Ravi, had their private letters forwarded by prison officials to the AGC.

They want the High Court to declare that the Attorney-General and the Singapore Prison Service had acted unlawfully - the former by requesting prisoners' letters and the latter by disclosing them.

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