The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has discontinued a criminal charge against human rights lawyer M Ravi for defaming Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Facebook after he removed the post and apologised.
In a media statement released by AGC on Wednesday (3 March), it said that the lawyer will instead be issued a 24-month conditional warning. The decision was made after taking “careful consideration” of representations by Mr Ravi’s defence counsel, the statement read.
Under the conditions accepted by Mr Ravi, he has to remove the offending post, publish a written apology and an undertaking not to repeat the allegations.
“As of Feb 25, Mr Ravi has removed the offending post. Mr Ravi has also published a written apology and undertaking, in which he accepts that the allegations in the offending post are false and completely without foundation,” said the AGC.
“He has also undertaken not to publish any further statements on this issue, or to make any allegations to the same or similar effect, in any manner whatsoever.
“On Mar 3, the charge was withdrawn on a discharge not amounting to an acquittal. Should Mr Ravi breach any of the conditions to the warning, the charge against him may be revived.”
Mr Ravi has apologised “unreservedly” to Mr Shanmugam for his statements in a Facebook post on 25 February.
“I now admit and acknowledge that these allegations are false and completely without foundation,” he said then.
In December last year, Mr Ravi was charged by the authorities for defaming Mr Shanmugam over a post he published on his Facebook profile on 6 November.
In the offending post, Mr Ravi alleged that lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam had told him that Mr Shanmugam had said he “wields influence over the Chief Justice” and “calls the shot and controlls (sic) Sundaresh Menon”.
However, on the very same day, Mr Thuraisingam wrote to Mr Shanmugam and said that “[t]here is absolutely no truth whatsoever” to Mr Ravi’s allegations”.
Mr Thuraisingam added that Mr Ravi had made similar allegations in a Facebook post on 12 June 2017. He also posted a copy of the letter on his own Facebook page, referring to Mr Ravi’s Facebook post as “false and completely untrue”.
Penalty for criminal defamation if found guilty is imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with both.