Friday, August 17, 2007

What happens when judgments are delayed

What happens when judgments are delayed

A CASE of justice delayed, justice denied? Examples of what happens when written judgments are not provided.

Case No 1:

A man was convicted of dadah trafficking in the late 1980s and sentenced to death but the trial judge took a long time in providing the written judgment.

Lawyer Karpal Singh, who appeared for the man, argued before the Supreme Court that the delay had led to manifest injustice.

The late Tan Sri Hashim Yeop Sani, who led the bench, substituted the death penalty with life imprisonment of 20 years. The accused was freed because of the long remand period and later stay on death row.

Case No 2:

Two years ago, former national athletics coach C. Ramanathan won an appeal to clear his name on two molest charges.

One of the grounds cited was the delay of close to five years for the Sessions Court judge to provide a written judgment.

He had been charged in October 1994 on two counts of outraging the modesty of two underage girls in 1992 and convicted on Nov 8, 1996. But the grounds of judgment were only made available on Oct 26, 2001.

Case No 3:

A desperate housewife wrote to Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim seeking his help to expedite her husband’s appeal over his conviction on a kidnapping charge.

The High Court in Shah Alam found the husband guilty of the offence on May 16, 2005. She wrote to the top judge in August last year and sent another letter in January this year.

As a result, the Court of Appeal Registrar sent a letter to the Shah Alam High Court Deputy Registrar in February to prepare the record of appeals, which included the judgment. But there was no reply.

Counsel Gurbachan Singh, who appeared for the man, sent another letter last week enquiring if the judgment was ready.

Meanwhile, the judge who heard the case has been promoted. It may now be up to the Chief Justice to decide on the next course of action.

Case No 4:

In 2000, the High Court in Penang found a man guilty of dadah trafficking and sentenced him to 12 years’ jail and 10 strokes of the rotan.

An appeal could not be heard as the judge did not make the judgment available.

The long stay in prison soon came to an end after the deduction of one-third of the sentence on remission.

His counsel, R.S.N. Rayer, advised his client, who wanted badly to be a free man, to withdraw the appeal. The man took the 10 strokes at one go before his release in 2002.

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