Attorney General should act swiftly and withdraw the charges against P. Uthayakumar

Press Statement
by Karpal Singh

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The arrest and detention of lawyer P. Uthayakumar for allegedly interrupting a magistrate in the course of judicial proceedings is unjustified and unwarranted having regard to the facts and circumstances.

The Attorney General Datuk Abdul Gani Patail should forthwith consider withdrawing the charge. Resort is not normally had to a prosecution of a lawyer for any altercation with a judicial officer in the course of proceedings. In the rough and tumble of court proceedings there are bound to be such incidents. However, this is probably the first time section 228 of the Penal Code is being invoked for prosecution.

As far back as 1974 and 1975, two lawyers the late Mr. Karam Singh and Mr. Kumaraendran found themselves in such a predicament. However, on appeal, Justice Raja Azlan Shah and the late Justice Eusoffe Abdoolcader merely referred to both these lawyers to the disciplinary board of the Bar Council. Lawyers should not live under the Sword of Damocles when carrying out their duties in court constantly being under threat of criminal prosecution for contempt of court.

In both cases referred to, the respective judges were of the view the powers of contempt of court invoked by both magistrates were unwarranted. The prosecution of Uthayakumar flies in the face of both decisions in the cases of Karam Singh and Kumaraendran as the matter has been taken a step further by resorting to a criminal prosecution.

I hope the Attorney General will act swiftly and withdraw the charge to give spirit and expression to the independence of the Bar. He should do so in the public interest which demands it.


* Karpal Singh, DAP Deputy National Chairman