Ranjit Kaur d/o Awthar Singh v Public Prosecutor

JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date04 January 1999
Neutral Citation[1999] SGHC 2
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 148 of 1998
Date04 January 1999
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselCA Monteiro (Bajwa & Co)
Citation[1999] SGHC 2
Defendant CounselRD Gangatharan (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterProsecution alleges fresh evidence found and intention to proceed with fresh charges at a later date,Appellant receives discharge not amounting to acquittal,Whether acquittal should have been granted by court,Appellant seeks acquittal on appeal,Discharge not amounting to acquittal,Principles for directing discharge amounting to an acquittal,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Whether can grant an acquittal High Court,Trials,s 184 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68)


The facts

1.On 19 February 1998, the appellant was charged with criminal breach of trust by a clerk or servant contrary to s 408 of the Penal Code. From 1993 to 1997, the appellant worked as a school clerk in St Anthony`s Primary School at No 1 Bukit Batok Street 34, Singapore. It was alleged that, from 11 January 1994 to 4 November 1994, she kept an amount of $26,188.50 being school and other fees belonging to the school.

2. The proceedings

On 28 May 1998, the first day of the six-day trial, the DPP tendered amended charges with the effect that the total amount the appellant now stood to be charged for was reduced to $1,400. This was split into two charges alleging criminal breach of trust of $800 in September 1994 and of $600 in May 1994.

3.At the same time, the DPP informed the court that, two days preceding the hearing, evidence that a much larger sum was involved had come to light. She maintained that the same witnesses would be called. Nevertheless her instructions were not to proceed with the trial, pending further investigation into other amounts taken by the appellant during her employment at the school. The DPP sought an adjournment of proceedings and invited the court to exercise its powers under s 198 of the Criminal Procedure Code (`the CPC`).

4.Unfortunately, the district judge refused an adjournment on the mistaken ground that there was a general policy against granting adjournments. It was at this juncture that the prosecution applied under s 184 of the CPC for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal. This was granted in respect of the original charge for $26,188.50. The appellant appealed to the High Court, seeking an acquittal. I dismissed the appeal on 13 October 1998. As such orders are not so common, I was grateful for this opportunity to make some observations on discharges not amounting to an acquittal.

5. The appeal

Before me, the appellant sought an acquittal. Two issues fell to be considered. First, could an acquittal be granted by the High Court and, more importantly on the present facts, should an acquittal have been granted by the court below ? I shall briefly dispense with the issue of jurisdiction. The offence in question, criminal breach of trust contrary to s 408 of the Penal Code is punishable by a maximum seven-year term of imprisonment. This fell within the criminal jurisdiction of the District Court by virtue of the provision in s 7(1) of the CPC. These facts are easily distinguishable from Yen Ching Yan v PP [1998] 3 SLR 430 where the District Court, not being possessed of a criminal jurisdiction to hear the capital case, did not have the jurisdiction to grant the appellant a discharge amounting to an acquittal. This answers the first issue positively in that it was within the High Court`s appellate jurisdiction, having the same powers as the court below, to order an acquittal.

6.I now turn to examine the circumstances which may warrant an order of discharge amounting to an acquittal. Section 184 of the CPC reads:

(1) At any stage of any summary trial before judgment has been delivered, the Public Prosecutor may, if he thinks fit, inform the court that he will not further prosecute the defendant upon the charge and thereupon all proceedings on the charge against the defendant shall be stayed and he shall be discharged from and of the same.

(2) Such discharge shall not amount to an acquittal unless the court so directs except in cases coming under s 177.

7.It has been held that the Public Prosecutor`s right to apply for a stay of proceedings under s 184 comes into existence upon the commencement of a summary trial: Loh Siang Piow & Anor v PP [1998] 2 SLR 384. That case also decided that a summary trial is commenced when the charge is read and explained to the accused. In the present appeal, the appellant was charged on 19 February 1998.

8.The DPP`s application was made on the first day of the hearing, that is, on 28 May 1998. As comprehensively discussed in recent cases such as Arjan Singh v PP [1993] 2 SLR 271 and PP v Kolandavelu [1993] 3 SLR 446 , applications such as these are made at the Public...

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8 cases
  • PP v Ng Guan Hup
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 24 July 2009
    ...4 SLR (R) 183; [2007] 4 SLR 183 (refd) PP v Oh Hu Sung [2003] 4 SLR (R) 541; [2003] 4 SLR 541 (refd) Ranjit Kaur d/o Awthar Singh v PP [1999] 1 SLR (R) 43; [1999] 1 SLR 836 (refd) TS Video and Laser Pte Ltd v Lim Chee Yong [2001] 3 SLR (R) 639; [2002] 1 SLR 68 (refd) Wong Hong Toy v PP [198......
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    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 August 1999
    ... ... The district judge cited as sentencing authority, PP v Gurmit Singh [1999] 3 SLR 215 ... 38      In PP v Gurmit Singh, the accused ... ...
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    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 31 August 2001
    ...recent cases decided by the Honourable the Chief Justice in Loh Siang Piow v. PP [1998] 2 SLR 384 and Ranjit Kaur d/o Awthar Singh v. PP [1999] 1 SLR 836, which discussed the two cases cited by Mr Singh and also the other case on the same issue decided by the Chief Justice, which was, Arjan......
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