SINGAPORE: A law graduate who admitted to forging her degree certificate and transcript to give herself better grades was ordered on Tuesday (Jan 22) to be struck off the roll.
Jaya Anil Kumar, 30, graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2011.
The court heard that she forged her academic documents twice - first in January 2013, when she submitted a fake official transcript of her grades to the Legal Service Commission.
Three years later in October 2016, she altered her law degree certificate to show that she had supposedly obtained Second Class Upper Honours instead of her actual Second Class Lower Honours.
She was fined S$10,000 in January last year for these offences. The court heard that she had falsified the documents to improve her chances of getting a job with the Singapore Legal Service.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal heard the application by the Law Society to have Jaya struck off the roll.
She had been called to the Singapore Bar as an advocate and solicitor in July 2012.
Her lawyer urged the court to order a longer suspension instead of striking her off the roll, submitting that she was "young and inexperienced".
Justices Tay Yong Kwang, Belinda Ang and Quentin Loh ruled that "any law student or young law graduate would know that forgery of documents is dishonesty and is a crime".
"Her conduct shows a consistent trend of resorting to dishonest means to try to get what she wants as a career," said the judges.
They pointed out that Jaya "was not upfront" when confronted by the Legal Service Commission, declining to give the commission consent to ask NUS for clarification on discrepancies they found in her documents.
"We find that there are no exceptional circumstances justifying any sanction other than the ultimate one of striking off," said the judges.
They added that they were sad to arrive at this conclusion, and are not saying that Jaya is "irredeemably dishonest".
"Everyone can repent and change. During the coming years, she will have to re-order her young life, re-focus on what is truly important, show the fruits of repentance and make a good case for the court to reinstate her as an advocate and solicitor sometime in the future," said the judges.
Jaya was also ordered to pay the Law Society S$5,000 in costs and disbursements.