Lawyer M Ravi ordered to pay Attorney-General S$10,000 in costs over death row prisoners' court application
SINGAPORE: A High Court judge on Tuesday (Nov 30) ordered lawyer M Ravi to pay S$10,000 in personal costs to the Attorney-General over a court application for 13 former and current prisoners on death row.
Mr Ravi had filed an originating summons to commence judicial review proceedings on behalf of former death row prisoner Gobi Avedian and 12 other death row prisoners.
The twelve are: Syed Suhail Syed Zin, Datchinamurthy Kataiah, Hamzah Ibrahim, Iskandar Rahmat, Saminathan Selvaraju, Rosman Abdullah, Roslan Bakar, Masoud Rahimi Mehrzad, Zamri Mohd Tahir, Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, Tan Kay Yong and Ramdhan Lajis.
The 12 men face hanging for drug trafficking, except for Iskandar, who was convicted of murder in the Kovan double murders. Gobi's death sentence was set aside after a successful criminal review application to the Court of Appeal.
In the court application, Mr Ravi named the Attorney-General as the defendant, but later informed the judge at the start of the hearing that he wished to withdraw his application in its entirety.
Usually, the plaintiffs would bear the defendant's costs, but counsel for the Attorney-General, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng, asked for Mr Ravi to pay the costs personally.
Mr Ravi protested and described this as a "threat" against him, vowing to report Mr Tan to the Law Society of Singapore for "unprofessional conduct".
In a written judgment, Justice Ang Cheng Hock said it would serve the ends of justice for Mr Ravi to personally bear the costs of the defendant, and that it would not be fair for the 13 prisoners to bear the costs.
"I find that Mr Ravi's conduct led to an unnecessary waste of costs and time by the defendant's counsel," said Justice Ang.
He added that Mr Ravi "would have known that the originating summons was wholly unmeritorious in the first place".
The lawyer was given a chance to ameliorate the situation, but spurned two opportunities to give timely notice that the plaintiffs would unconditionally discontinue their court application, said the judge.
He said Mr Ravi's conduct was "plainly unreasonable", describing how the lawyer filed a court application despite knowing that the plaintiffs had no basis for obtaining the orders they sought.
"Given Mr Ravi's years of experience in dealing with judicial review matters ... he would have known that the ... sets of reliefs prayed for in the originating summons were procedurally unsustainable as a matter of law," said Justice Ang.
This latest development comes days after the Law Society said it was closely monitoring matters relating to Mr Ravi, after his behaviour in a trial made headlines and caused his client to replace him with Lim Tean.