The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has filed a complaint against human rights lawyer M Ravi for releasing court documents to the media with respect to three cases.
In a letter sent to the Law Society, the AGC requested the Law Society to refer the matter to a disciplinary tribunal, pursuant to section 85(3)(b) of the Legal Professions Act.
In an open letter to the media, Mr Ravi’s office indicated that he will “vigorously defend his position both locally and internationally. He will inform the media of his impending actions shortly after his trip to Malaysia to campaign for Cheong Chun Yin and his trip to India on the Little India Riots case”.
The media release from Mr Ravi’s office also attached the letter from the AGC to the Law Society, detailing the various aspects where Mr Ravi was deemed to have been involved in the release of the information and why his actions were in contravention of the Legal Professions Act.
In the complaint, the AGC cited the following cases:
– The constitutional challenges (Lawrence Wee’s Article 12 challenge to include prohibition against discrimination on grounds of sexuality)
– Judicial Review Applications (Little India Riots Case and the application filed by Malaysian National Cheong Chun Yin facing execution who is challenging the AG’s decision on not granting the Certificate of Cooperation)
– Court actions ( Death of inmate Dinesh Raman who died while in custody).
The AGC claimed in the letter of complaint that Mr Ravi acted “in a manner unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court by causing Court documents to be prematurely released to the media”, and that he made statements “to the media which contravened” parts of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules.
The AGC’s letter held that the principles of open justice requires that decisions by judges and court proceedings be made available for inspection by the public. However, “it does not mean that all documents are open to inspection by members of the public the moment they are filed in court, for the principle of open justice is engaged only when a court has made a decision involving a consideration of those documents.”
In up to four separate cases before the courts, and alleging that Mr Ravi was directly involved in the dissemination of the documents to the media, the AGC opined that Mr Ravi’s premature release of these court documents was deliberately done “to gain unfair advantage in the cases, and/or to interfere in the conduct of fair proceedings by prejudicing the respondent’s case in the minds of members of the public, and/or to hold up the persons and institutions referred to in the affidavits to public obloquy.”