J’S CASE STUDY (Part III)

Jegatheson Subramaniam & Satu Lagi Lwn. Fithril Hakim Ab Jalil & Kes Yang Lain [2018] 1 LNS 364

The Season Finale...

1. The Court found that, the Prosecutor was not in contempt of Court as he was following the orders of his superior officer; i.e. not to comply with the Order dated 10.4.2017.

2. Contempt of Court may be said to be constituted by any conduct that tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or disregard, or to interfere with or prejudice parties, litigants, or their witnesses during the litigation.

3. Our Courts have reclassified it to mean either; (1) a specific conduct of contempt for breach of a particular Court Order or (2) a more general conduct for interfering with the due administration of justice.

4. In this case, it is contended that the Prosecutor had breached the Court Order dated 10.4.2017 in not allowing Pang Chan Kok, William to attend at the date and time as specified in the Court Order, to inspect the original Search List dated 19.4.2016 and the original 112 Statement of the 2nd Applicant dated 24.4.2016.

Is disobedience to a Court Order recognized as contempt? In the case of Tiong Cheng Peng & Anor v. Ker Min Choo & Ors [2015] 2 CLJ 720, it was held as follows: -

"An act of disobedience to a court order, as alleged in this case to be wilful and deliberate, is recognised as conduct amounting to contempt of court."

5. It cannot be disputed that the Prosecutor purposefully breached the terms of the Court Order dated 10.4.2017, and an act of disobedience to a Court Order is tritely recognized as an act of contempt.

6. On this basis alone, the Prosecutor is clearly guilty of contempt of Court and must face the consequences of his wilful disobedience to the Court Order dated 10.4.2017

Was the High Court wrong to hold that the Prosecutor was not in contempt as he was merely following his superior officer’s orders?

7. In Rondel v Worsley 1, Lord Reid made repeated references to counsel being an officer of the Court concerned in the administration of justice and having an overriding duty to the court and the public.

8. Is the Prosecutor entitled to forgo his overriding duty to court on the mere instruction of his superior officer? Clearly the answer is NO.

9. This being the case, one will have an easy way out in the event of future contempt proceedings for the blatant breach of court orders.

10. This reason should not even have been entertained.