On 14 August 2020, M Ravi, an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore, was ordered by the Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) to pay a fine of $10,000 and $3000 in costs to the Law Society, for comments that he made the year before at a press conference in Malaysia. The fine amount has since been reduced, bringing the fine and costs to a total of $10,500, which the Transformative Justice Collective seeks your support to raise, in solidarity with Ravi.
Ravi’s life’s work — as a lawyer and a death penalty abolitionist — has been to speak up for those on death row, and care for their families, despite repeated attempts by the establishment to discredit, disbar, defame, intimidate and punish him for his efforts. He has taken on many “hopeless” capital cases, offering solidarity, relief and comfort to families and inmates who had nothing more to lose. He goes above and beyond, at great cost to his own well-being, to ensure that families and their loved ones on death row know that someone fought for them till the very end, that someone did everything possible, leaving no stone unturned, taking extraordinary measures to save their life.
Ravi takes on death penalty cases pro bono, often spending his own money for legal expenses. He frequently stays in touch with the families after their loved one has been executed, continuing to support them in every way he can. He has travelled to various parts of the world to rally support for his clients on death row, and built the anti-death penalty movement in Singapore. There is no risk that Ravi will not take for his clients and their families, and he has steadfastly refused to censor himself when it comes to sharing his observations and opinions about how death penalty cases are conducted in our courts, the odds stacked against death row inmates, and the huge challenges that he and his clients face in the fight against their death sentence.
Ravi has sacrificed much in the struggle against the death penalty in Singapore. Most don’t have his courage and resolve, but we can demonstrate our solidarity and support for him by ensuring that he doesn’t have to face this fine alone.
How to contribute
If you would like to contribute to this crowdfunding campaign, you can do it via PayNow by scanning the QR code below. Please indicate in the reference that the money is for M Ravi!
Alternatively, click here to contribute via DonorBox!
On 23 July 2019, M Ravi made several statements to the media in Kuala Lumpur relating to the execution of a Malaysian individual, Nagaenthran s/o K Dharmalingam, in Singapore. On 22 April 2009, Nagaenthran was arrested and was found to be carrying 42.72g of diamorphine, a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. On 22 November 2010, Nagaenthran was sentenced to death, and his subsequent appeals were also dismissed.
These statements made by Ravi in July 2019 were referred by the Attorney General to the Law Society (the Complaint). The Complaint stated that Ravi’s conduct was improper and “unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession”, which was prohibited under Section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Profession Act (LPA).
The 5 statements made by Ravi, as set out in the Complaint, can be briefly summarised as follows:
- The State is inherently biased in its attitude towards independent psychiatrists, which is highly prejudicial to accused persons and breaches their rights to a fair trial;
- In 2010, then Chief Prosecutor Bala Reddy accused defense psychiatrists of not being objective and truthful in Court. In contrast, Mr Reddy said that State-appointment psychiatrists from IMH are known to be ‘objective’ and ‘impartial’;
- By tarring all independent psychiatrists as ‘hired guns’, Mr Reddy has shown that that the State had lost its objectivity at the outset, imbuing an institutional bias;
- Mr Reddy’s bias can be further seen in his suggestion for all offenders to be sent to the IMH for examinations. He also made a statement that suggests that only reports of independent psychiatrists can be challenged, and that those of IMH psychiatrists will be readily viewed as unimpeachable. Mr Reddy now sits as a Judge in the State Court; and
- The International Court of Justice is invited to find that there was a breach of Nagaenthran’s right to a fair trial and to re-assess the expert reports tendered by the Prosecution in Nagaenthran’s case.
The charges against Ravi
After receiving the Complaint, the Law Society mounted three charges against Ravi.
- The 1st charge related to the first, third and fourth statements, and alleged that they “contain attacks against the impartiality and integrity of the State Prosecutors in Singapore without any basis”.
- The 2nd charge related to the second, third and fourth statements, and allegedly contained “unsupported attacks against Senior District Judge Bala Reddy… alleging that SDJ Reddy was biased against defence psychiatrists”.
- The 3rd charge related to the fifth statement, and alleged that the statement was a unjustified attack on the Singapore Courts and a collateral attack on the decision of the Court of Appeal in Nagaenthean’s case, by alleging that Nagaenthran was not afforded a fair trial.
Findings by the Disciplinary Tribunal (DT)
The DT found the first two charges to be valid, and rejected Ravi’s defence that his statements amounted to “fair criticism”. The 3rd charge was dismissed by the DT. Even though the 1st and 2nd charges were upheld, the DT found that Ravi’s actions under these charges did not disclose any cause of sufficient gravity to warrant disciplinary action set out under the LPA.
Nevertheless, the DT found that Ravi should still pay a fine of “not less than $10,000”, which they held to be “sufficient and appropriate to the misconduct committed”. He was also ordered to pay costs of $3000 to the Law Society. His fine has since been reduced to $7500. Thus, the amount he currently needs to pay is $10,500.