Ulaganathan Thamilarasan v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date13 May 1996
Neutral Citation[1996] SGHC 104
Citation[1996] SGHC 104
Defendant CounselJaswant Singh (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Docket NumberCriminal Revision No 6 of 1996
Plaintiff CounselSK Kumar (SK Kumar & Associates)
Publication Date19 Sep 2003
SubjectFailure to record conviction,ss 180 & 396 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Whether curable,Delay in taking out proceedings,Whether correctly accepted,Revision of proceedings,s 268 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Guilty plea,Whether revision to be denied,Failure of court to ensure accused understood nature and consequences of plea

The petitioner under s 268 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) sought criminal revision of a decision of a district judge accepting a supposed plea of guilt by the petitioner and sentencing him to nine months` imprisonment. The revision was granted, the sentence set aside and the case was remitted for a new trial before another district judge. Since the appellant was in prison all this while, and no bail was granted, it was also ordered that an early date be set for the new trial.

Brief facts

The petitioner was charged with the commission of an outrage of modesty punishable under s 354 of the Penal Code (Cap 224). He appeared before the district judge on 29 January 1996. The petitioner was unrepresented then. The notes taken by the district judge were brief and are reproduced in full:

Prosecutor: One charge against accused. May plea be taken.

Charge read explained and understood in Tamil. Pleads guilty. Understands nature and consequences of the plea. Statement of facts read (`A`).



Accused admits to statement of facts. Nothing known. Mitigation: Done unintentionally. Very crowded and he was pushed forward and unintentionally he touched her.

Court: Why admit to the statement of facts?

Accused: I came here to work. If I did not admit it I would not have any ways of proving I did not do it. Did not want to go through the trouble.

Prosecutor: May matter be stood down so I can explain matter to him.

Court: Stand down to 10.05am.

10.05am court resumed

Accused: Wishes to withdraw the last mitigation. Further mitigation: Remanded since 2 January 1996. Spent a lot of money in India to work here. Worked here the past three years. Family facing financial difficulties. Please impose lenient sentence and to backdate sentence.

Prosecutor: No submission on sentencing. Confirm remanded since 2 January 1996.

Court: Nine months` imprisonment and three strokes of the cane. Imprisonment with effect from 2 January 1996.



The petition

In his petition for revision, the petitioner disclosed that no appeal was filed as he was ignorant of the procedures. That being so, he sought to challenge the decision of the trial court as being flawed. The flaws he identified were that he was unrepresented, that the trial court failed to examine him carefully, that the explanation of the effect of his first mitigation ought not to have been done by the prosecutor, that the petitioner was under duress to plead guilty, that the plea was thus made out of desperation, and finally that the petitioner was innocent and desired an opportunity to defend himself.

In his arguments before this court, counsel for the petitioner noted a number of points concerning the decision and judgment of the district judge. First, it was pointed out that the district judge failed to record any conviction before sentencing, contrary to s 180(b) CPC, which is mandatory. It was also contended that the trial court failed to ensure that the petitioner understood the nature and consequence of his plea of guilt, and whether the petitioner in fact intended to admit without qualification the charge against him. That it was the prosecutor who explained the effect of his first mitigation was irregular, and this ought to have been done by the court. Indeed, the petitioner`s first mitigation could not be regarded as an unequivocal plea of guilt, which meant that a plea of not guilty ought to have been recorded. Finally, it was also said that the court failed to explain to the petitioner that he could defend himself if he wished to plead his innocence.

The respondent`s case

The respondent`s case was directed to the grounds of petition. It was contended by the respondent that the fact that the petitioner was unrepresented did not impugn the proceedings. The court had also allowed the petitioner the opportunity to reassess his earlier plea, and neither was the petitioner denied a fair hearing. The act of the prosecuting officer in explaining the consequences of the petitioner`s mitigation was one done as part of her role as an officer of the court. No grievances were voiced by the petitioner then against the prosecuting officer. As for the petitioner`s allegation that the prosecutor had coerced the petitioner into pleading guilt, the respondent contended that this amounted to the adducing of fresh evidence, which required a motion to the court. It was finally said...

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8 cases
  • Balasubramanian Palaniappa Vaiyapuri v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 January 2002
    ...deemed to have admitted to the offence without qualification and the plea would be rejected by the court: Ulaganathan Thamilarasan v PP [1996] 2 SLR 534. In the present case, what the petitioner said in his mitigation plea was not sufficient to constitute a qualification or modification of ......
  • Thong Sing Hock v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 March 2009
    ...consequence of his plea and intends to admit without qualification to the offence alleged against him (see Ulaganathan Thamilarasan v PP [1996] 2 SLR 534 at 541). There would be a serious injustice warranting criminal revision if the accused did not genuinely have the freedom to choose betw......
  • PP v Dinesh s/o Rajantheran
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 23 April 2019
    ...3 SLR(R) 47; [2009] 3 SLR 47 (refd) Toh Lam Seng v PP [2003] 2 SLR(R) 346; [2003] 2 SLR 346 (refd) Ulaganathan Thamilarasan v PP [1996] 2 SLR(R) 112; [1996] 2 SLR 534 (refd) Yunani bin Abdul Hamid v PP [2008] 3 SLR(R) 383; [2008] 3 SLR 383 (refd) Legislation referred to Criminal Procedure C......
  • Thong Sing Hock v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 March 2009
    ...consequence of his plea and intends to admit without qualification to the offence alleged against him (see Ulaganathan Thamilarasan v PP [1996] 2 SLR 534 at 541). There would be a serious injustice warranting criminal revision if the accused did not genuinely have the freedom to choose betw......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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