Lawyer: Hold remand proceedings only in courts

p-uthayakumar

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer, who was once an Internal Security Act detainee, wants the nation’s top judge to hold remand proceedings in courthouses instead of police stations.

P Uthayakumar, who sent a letter to Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, said such forms of “regressive” injustice must be stopped to restore the sanctity and dignity of the judiciary.

He said Arifin should order that all remand proceedings be conducted in gazetted courtrooms and to stop the practice of “police inhouse remand courts.”

“Justice cannot and should not be at the expense of expediency. Justice must not only be done but must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done,” he told FMT.

Uthayakumar said he had appealed to Arifin to correct this anomaly before the judge retired in March next year.

He said holding remand proceedings in police premises, also impinged on the independence of lawyers to act without fear or favour.

“The remand stage is important as lawyers, concerned friends, relatives and the general public can help be the check and balance so that vulnerable suspects are not abused at the hands of the police.”

He reminded that every remand prisoner was presumed innocent until proven guilty and was entitled to the right to life as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

The lawyer said remand proceedings in court premises should also be opened to the public, as this was a requirement under the Criminal Procedure Code.

Uthayakumar said he was raising this matter due to his experience as a lawyer for remand prisoners and as a former detainee himself.

He said most of the time, during weekends and public holidays, remand proceedings were held in police stations, not in courtrooms.

He was among the five Hindu rights activists placed under detention for two years at the Kamunting Camp, Taiping, in 2007.

The lawyer later also served a two-year prison term after he was found guilty of sedition in 2013.