Human rights lawyer M Ravi took to Facebook on Wednesday (14 October) to voice his displeasure towards the police for arresting a woman in public after she allegedly poured soup on a stranger at Novena Square mall.
Calling the arrest “totally unacceptable”, Mr Ravi said that it’s a serious offence to unlawfully handcuff someone in public, especially if such an arrest is declared unlawful by the court.
“To handcuff someone unlawfully in public is a serious offence if such arrest is declared by the court as unlawful. It also attracts criminal penalty of false imprisonment and battery,” the lawyer said.
He added, “From what I see, this arrest is totally unacceptable”.
Mr Ravi is referring to a recent incident that happened at Novena Square mall when a 35-year-old woman was arrested by police officers for pouring soup on a random stranger’s head and scuffled with him.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the police said that she was arrested under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act and is under investigation for voluntarily causing hurt as well as using criminal force to stop a public servant from performing his duties.
This incident came to public knowledge after a one-minute video of the police encounter went viral on social media and networking platforms like Facebook, TikTok and LinkedIn on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the video, four police officers—three male and one female—were shown standing around the woman who was speaking to them. Another two officers were seen having a word with an unidentified man a few metres away from the woman.
After a while, one of the four officers who were surrounding the woman suddenly grabbed her right arm, and the other officers placed handcuffs on her, before taking her away.
Following that, the woman can be heard shouting to the officers in the video saying, “This is against human rights. Why is this necessary?”
In response to this, Mr Ravi said in his post that the woman is “essentially asking where is her human rights”.
In fact, the lawyer noted that he hopes this matter is brought up in Parliament, adding that his other colleagues from different countries are shocked looking at the arrest.
“My colleagues from other countries including our neighbours are shocked at the manner in which these police officers effected the arrest which is very handed when they literally armtwisted her. And why even arrest this poor lady for Godsake!!” he explained.
Woman receiving treatment at Institute of Mental Health
In its statement on Wednesday, the police stated that it responded to a call for assistance at Novena Square at 4.24pm after the woman shouted at a random man in a restaurant.
It added that she allegedly poured a bowl of soup on the 32-year-old man, and a scuffle ensued. The woman then spat at the man and bit his right arm. This resulted in the man being taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
The police also highlighted that when the officers spoke to her at the mall, she continued to shout “incoherently”. He relative, who was present at the scene, was not able to calm her down.
It added that she was deemed to pose a danger to herself and the public, and was then arrested.
“The woman is also being investigated for voluntarily causing hurt and using criminal force to deter a public servant from carrying out his duties. She had hurled verbal abuse and also spat on the officers in the process,” the police said.
Currently, the woman is receiving treatment at the Institute of Mental Health, the police added.