Lim Teck Leng Roland v Public Prosecutor

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date24 August 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGHC 234
Citation[2001] SGHC 234
Defendant CounselAnandan Bala (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Plaintiff CounselPatrick Nai (Abraham Low & Partners)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCriminal Motion No 28 of 2001
Date24 August 2001
Subject MatterRelevant considerations for court,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Judgment,Functus officio,Whether possible to lay down guidelines for grant of deferment,Words and Phrases,s 217 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Whether High Court in appellate capacity has power to alter or review its judgment,Whether order of court granting applicant deferment a 'judgment'- Whether High Court has power to alter such order and grant further deferment,Power of High Court to alter or review its judgment,Burden on applicant to justify court's discretion in granting deferment,'Judgment',Definition of 'judgment'- High Court allowing applicant to defer commencement of sentence,s 217(1) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68)



The applicant had earlier pleaded guilty to a total of four charges. They were for driving whilst under disqualification, an offence under s 43(4) of the Road Traffic Act (Cap 276), driving whilst not being covered by insurance, an offence under s 3(1) of the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189), failure to wear a seat belt whilst driving, an offence under r 4(1) of the Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Wearing of Seat Belts) Rules, and for speeding, an offence under s 63(4) of the Road Traffic Act.

He was sentenced on 30 April 2001, to a total of eight months` imprisonment, and a total of 18 years` disqualification for all classes of vehicles, a total fine of $1,000, in default, ten days` imprisonment.
The appeal against the sentences of imprisonment and disqualification before this court was dismissed on 2 August 2001. Counsel for the applicant, immediately after the dismissal, sought for an order that the applicant commence serving his sentence of imprisonment on 16 August 2001, so that the appellant could have a period of two weeks to settle his personal and work affairs. I granted it and also ordered that the applicant`s bail be extended.

This motion, filed on 16 August 2001, and heard on 17 August 2001, was for a further order that the applicant`s sentence of imprisonment which was to commence on 16 August 2001, be postponed instead to commence on 30 August 2001.
The applicant cited in his affidavit, that he needed a further two weeks to settle his personal and work affairs, before serving his sentence.

The applicant was seeking, in essence, an alteration of my order of 2 August 2001 that the applicant surrender himself and commence serving his sentence on 16 August 2001.
I dismissed the application.

Functus officio

I shall first deal with the issue of whether I could lawfully substitute my own order, some two weeks after it had been made. Section 217 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) provides as follows:

Judgment not to be altered

(1) No court other than the High Court, when it has recorded its judgment, shall alter or review the judgment.

(2) A clerical error may be rectified at any time and any other mistake may be rectified at any time before the court rises for the day.

I ruled in Chiaw Wai Onn v PP [1997] 3 SLR 445 at 460, that s 217 did not attempt any substantive enactment with regard to the High Court.
The phrase `other than the High Court` could be interpreted to suggest that s 217 allowed the High Court to alter or review its judgment. However, to regard so would mean that the High Court would never be functus officio since, in theory, there would be nothing to prevent a third judgment or a fourth judgment to supplement an earlier judgment. This would go against the universal principle of law that, when a matter has been finally disposed of by a court, the court is, in the absence of a direct statutory provision, functus officio and cannot entertain a fresh prayer for the same relief unless and until the previous order of final disposal has been set aside.

This provision, and its equivalent, has spawned different interpretations.
The previous s 369 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of India provided as follows:

No court, other than a High Court, when it has signed its judgment, shall alter or review the same, except as provided in ss 395 and 484 or to correct a clerical error.

Despite the express exclusion of the High Court from the operation of this provision, many Indian High Courts held that they had no implied power to alter or review their own judgment.
In Re Gibbons (Unreported) at 47, Petheram CJ stated:

In my opinion the effect of the words `other than a High Court` is precisely the same as if in place of them the Legislature had at the end of the section added these words `this section does not apply to the High Court`. There is no substantive enactment in that section with reference to the High Court, and all it does is to reserve the powers which existed in the High Court before, so that they are in no degree taken away. What the powers of the High Court were before it is unnecessary to consider, but whatever they were, they were reserved and they were in the same position after this section was passed as they had been in before; and inasmuch as it is not shown to us that, before the passing of this section, any power of revision existed in the High Court, that section did not, in my opinion, create any such power, and therefore, it appears that this section does not help the applicant.

This was cited with approval by Spenser-Wilkinson J in PP v Heng You Nang [1949] MLJ 285 , a criminal appeal from Sessions Court.
In this case, the Public Prosecutor had applied against the acquittal of the respondent on charges connected with the alleged importation of certain goods by the respondent. The appeal was dismissed. Subsequently, the Deputy Public Prosecutor applied by motion that the court should hear further arguments and review its judgment. Spenser-Wilkinson J referred to s 278 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Malaysia, that provides as follows:

No Court, other than a Court of a Judge, having once recorded its judgment, shall alter or review the

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7 cases
  • Lwee Kwi Ling Mary v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 27 Febrero 2003
    ...of imprisonment should commence on a date other than the date on which it was passed. In Lim Teck Leng Roland v Public Prosecutor [2001] 4 SLR 61, I ruled that a sentencing court could entertain an application under s 223 of the CPC for a deferment of the commencement of a sentence it passe......
  • Loh Kok Siew v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 31 Mayo 2002 which he was previously sentenced as the court awarding the sentence directs. 9 In the recent case of Lim Teck Leng Roland v PP [2001] 4 SLR 61, Roland Lim was convicted of a number of traffic offences. After having been granted an order allowing him to delay the commencement of his sent......
  • PP v Ng Guan Hup
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 24 Julio 2009
    ...SLR (R) 1; [1984-1985] SLR 561 (refd) Koh Thian Huat v PP [2002] 2 SLR (R) 113; [2002] 3 SLR 28 (refd) Lim Teck Leng Roland v PP [2001] 2 SLR (R) 859; [2001] 4 SLR 61 (refd) Loh Siang Piow v PP [1998] 1 SLR (R) 347; [1998] 2 SLR 384 (refd) Marzuki Bin Mokhtar v PP [1981] 2 MLJ 155 (refd) PP......
  • Public Prosecutor v Oh Hu Sung
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 16 Octubre 2003
    ...the CPC applied. [Emphasis added.] 20 Two other instructive cases on the effect of s 217 were Lim Teck Leng Roland v Public Prosecutor [2001] 4 SLR 61 and Public Prosecutor v Lee Wei Zheng Winston [2002] 4 SLR 33. In both, I accepted that s 217(1) lays down a general prohibition against the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2009, December 2009
    • 1 Diciembre 2009
    ...1978) at para 9030. 8 PP v Heng You Nang [1949] MLJ 285. 9 See Chiaw Wai Onn v PP[1997] 3 SLR 445 followed in Lim Teck Leng Roland v PP[2001] 4 SLR 61; PP v Lee Wei Zheng Winston[2002] 4 SLR 33. Rising for the day would imply that the court has attended to all its business for the day: Chia......
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 Diciembre 2001
    ...sufficient evidence to sustain the charge. Application for extension of time before serving sentence 11.11 In Lim Teck Leng Roland v PP[2001] 4 SLR 61, the applicant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Upon dismissal of his appeal against sentence, he applied for and......

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