Pandiyan Thanaraju Rogers v Public Prosecutor
|High Court (Singapore)
|Yong Pung How CJ
|18 June 2001
| SGHC 136
| SGHC 136
|Ravneet Kaur (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
|Suresh Damodara and K Sureshan (Colin Ng & Partners)
|11 November 2003
|Magistrate's Appeal No 237 of 2000
|18 June 2001
|Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Whether corruption involving police officers should attract more severe sanctions,Weight of evidence,Previous inconsistent statement,Statutory offences,s 147(6) Evidence Act (Cap 97),Sentence inconsistent with that imposed in similar cases,Sentencing,Appeal,Whether objectively corrupt element present in transaction,s 6(a) Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241),Corruptly receiving gratification,Receipt of moneys by police officer,Manifestly inadequate,Whether police officer has guilty knowledge,Adducing fresh evidence,Evidence,Conditions to be satisfied,Criminal Law,Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Ed),Whether appellant should be allowed to adduce fresh evidence,Weight to be accorded
: This was an appeal against the decision of District Judge Siva Shanmugam. On 2 September 2000, the appellant, Pandiyan Thanaraju Rogers, was convicted after a trial of one charge of corruption punishable under s 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Ed) (`PCA`). He was sentenced to six months` imprisonment and ordered to pay a penalty of $1,700. The appellant was granted leave to lodge a petition of appeal against the conviction and the sentence out of time. He also filed a motion for leave to adduce fresh evidence at the hearing of the appeal. After hearing the submissions of counsel for the appellant and the DPP, I dismissed the motion and the appeals against conviction and sentence. In addition, I enhanced the sentence to nine months` imprisonment. I now give the reasons for my decision.
The charge against the appellant read:
You, Pandiyan Thanaraju Rogers, are charged that you on a day in April 1994, at Blk 38 Upper Boon Keng Road [num ]25-2402 Singapore being an agent to wit, a Staff Sergeant in the Singapore Police Force, did corruptly accept from one Manjit Singh, a gratification of a sum of two thousand dollars ($2,000) as an inducement to do an act in relation to your principal`s affairs, to wit, to render assistance to the said Manjit Singh in his police case, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241.
The offence carries a fine not exceeding $100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.
The case for the prosecution
On 17 February 1994, Manjit Singh (`Manjit`), formerly a staff sergeant with the Singapore Armed Forces, was seriously assaulted while on his way to collect a debt on behalf of a moneylending business which was registered in the name of his wife. While he was hospitalised, his friend Silver Packiam (`Silver`) brought the appellant to visit him. The appellant was then a staff sergeant and second in command of Team D, Secret Society Branch, CID. He was introduced as a CID officer whom Manjit could consult. At that time, Manjit needed assurances and wanted to be kept apprised of the details of his assault case.
Upon his return from hospital, Manjit received threatening calls which he believed were connected to the assault. He was in fear and informed the appellant of his worries about the assailants. Manjit also mentioned his concern that the Singapore Armed Forces (`SAF`) may investigate the assault which could in turn affect his pension. He was aware that under the MINDEF General Orders, he was not permitted to take part directly or indirectly in the management of any commercial enterprise while still in the service of the SAF. The appellant gave Manjit his name card and told Manjit to contact him if he encountered any problems with police matters. On a subsequent occasion, the appellant asked Manjit, through Silver, for a loan of $2,000. Manjit acceded to the request. The appellant was aware that, as a police officer, he was only permitted to obtain loans from approved institutions and was not permitted to take a loan from a person believed to be an illegal moneylender.
The prosecution admitted into evidence, without any challenge as to their voluntariness, the appellant`s statements recorded on 28 October 1999 and 1 December 1999 by CPIB officer SSI Chin Yen Yen (`SSI Chin`) (exh P3). In exh P3, the appellant stated that he started visiting Manjit soon after their introduction. During the visits, Manjit frequently consulted him for professional advice on the case. Manjit was very worried about the assailants and sought the appellant`s advice. On his part, the appellant reassured Manjit and helped in whatever ways he could.
It was stated in exh P3 that the appellant subsequently asked Manjit for a loan through Silver. By then he knew that Manjit was involved in a moneylending business. Based on his long experience in the police force and the fact that Manjit was an SAF officer, the appellant suspected that it was an unlicensed and illegal moneylending business. He was aware that Manjit thought that he could assist the latter in his assault case. Manjit did not specify a dateline for repayment, or charge him interest for the loan which remained substantially unpaid.
Manjit was a witness for the prosecution. In court, he first stated that he was unable to recall if a conversation took place between them when the $2,000 was handed to the appellant; he later testified that the appellant simply took the money and left. The prosecution was granted leave pursuant to s 147(1) of the Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Ed) (`EA`) to cross-examine Manjit on his previous statement to CPIB officer SSI Fong Hong Chin (`SSI Fong`), recorded on 28 October 1999 (exh P5). Manjit claimed that exh P5 was given involuntarily. After a voir dire to determine its voluntariness, the district judge admitted exh P5 into evidence for cross-examination and as substantive evidence pursuant to s 147(3) of the EA.
In exh P5, Manjit described the conversations which took place between them at the material times. He stated that the appellant endorsed Silver`s assurance that, since the appellant was from CID, he would be able to help if Manjit encountered any `problems` in future. At the same time, the appellant handed over his name card, telling Manjit to look for him if he needed anything or encountered any problems with regard to police matters. When the money was handed to the appellant, the appellant repeated that Manjit could approach him for help if he encountered any problems with any matters in the future. The appellant also said that he would `check for [Manjit]` in relation to the assault case. Manjit felt obligated to the appellant since he was a police officer; furthermore, the appellant had promised to keep Manjit posted on his assault case and to help with any problems in the future. Manjit stated in his statement that he was under the impression that the appellant could keep him updated on the case and to help him in whatever ways. When confronted with exh P5, Manjit retracted the portions which implicated the appellant, claiming that they were inaccurate and had been made up on the directions of the CPIB officers.
The case for the defence
The appellant had joined the Singapore Police Force in 1971. At the time of the alleged offence in 1994, he was facing a financial crisis. He had been declared a bankrupt in 1990 and was considered a credit risk. As a result, he had to resort to taking loans from friends and relatives.
The appellant did not deny receiving $2,000 from Manjit but claimed that it was an innocent loan. Soon after they were introduced, he told Silver that he needed to borrow $2,000. Silver agreed to help by asking Manjit for a loan on his behalf. It was a friendly loan without interest, guaranteed by Silver. He explained that he borrowed the money from Manjit as Manjit was Silver`s close friend. He did not think that there was anything wrong with him taking a loan from Manjit as he merely suspected and had no proof that Manjit was an illegal moneylender. Furthermore, the loan was guaranteed by Silver. It was not disputed that Manjit did not specify a dateline for the return of the loan, nor chased him for its return. Nonetheless, the appellant asserted that he had indicated that the loan would be repaid in July or December of that year.
The appellant stated that he gave only general and not professional advice to Manjit. He denied taking advantage of his office by promising to assist Manjit in his police case. He claimed that he had not helped Manjit in any way and had in fact told Manjit that any queries should be directed to the relevant investigating officer in charge of his case. He did not want to be seen to be interfering with the investigations as this would have breached proper procedures. He did not at any time contact the investigating officer to find out the status of Manjit`s case. As for the loan, he had thus far repaid Manjit $300. As regards his statement exh P3, he refuted the incriminating portions of exh P3, explaining that they were inaccurate and did not reflect what he had meant to say.
The decision of the district judge
The district judge rejected Manjit`s allegation that exh P5 was recorded involuntarily or inaccurately and preferred the evidence contained in his previous inconsistent statement over his sworn testimony in court. The district judge described Manjit as a clever, cunning and an unreliable and dishonest witness. He was found to be not forthcoming in his answers and to have deliberately withheld evidence for fear of being charged for corruption.
The district judge also found that the appellant`s statement, exh P3, was accurately recorded. On the totality of the evidence, he held that all the elements of the charge had been made out. In his view, the transaction contained an objectively corrupt element and the appellant possessed the requisite guilty knowledge that what he was doing was corrupt. Accordingly, he was convicted of corruptly accepting a sum of $2,000 as an inducement to render assistance to Manjit in his police case.
The motion to adduce fresh evidence
At the commencement of the appeal, Mr Damodara, counsel for the appellant, sought to adduce fresh evidence comprising:
(1) a certified true copy of a certificate of service dated 29 January 1994 issued by the SAF certifying that Manjit was released from service due to optional retirement on 30 January 1994;
(2) a letter dated 27 September 2000 issued by the Ministry of Defence stating that Manjit`s net commuted pension gratuity was credited into his bank account on 4 February 1994.
Mr Damodara argued that the documents proved that, at the time of the assault on 17 February 1994, Manjit was no longer in active service with the SAF and had already received his pension payment. He submitted that this would in turn show that the...
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