Teacher charged over UPSR paper leaks to know fate next month

Subbarau-gavelPUTRAJAYA: A teacher who was charged with having classified primary school achievement test (UPSR) exam papers in his mobile phone, will know next month whether he will be freed or told to enter his defence.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench chaired by Mohtarudin Baki said the panel needed more time to deliberate on the oral and written submissions.

“This case is quite important. Pertinent issues were raised and we need to go look into the points of law in detail,” he said.

Justices Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Harminder Singh Dhaliwal, who were the other bench members, had earlier gone on recess to deliberate on the submission made by the lawyers.

However, instead of delivering the verdict, Mohtarudin adjourned decision to May 9.

The case will come to an end if the Court of Appeal upholds the findings of the lower court.

Should the court rule in favour of the government, Tamil school teacher Subbarau Kamalanathan has to return to the Sessions Court to enter his defence.

Last September, the High Court in Seremban threw out the government’s appeal against Subbarau.

Judge Siti Mariam Othman, in her ruling, said then that Sessions Court judge Jagjit Singh did not make any factual or material error in acquitting Subbarau without calling for his defence.

On April 16, 2015, Jagjit acquitted Subbarau and another teacher, Murugan Palanisamy, for unauthorised possession of copies of the 2014 UPSR examination papers.

Jagjit ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the two, after having examined all the evidence.

Subarau was slapped with five charges involving Mathematics Papers 1 and 2, Bahasa Tamil (Comprehension), Bahasa Tamil (writing) and Science.

He allegedly committed the offences via a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone.

Murugan, 37, represented by Haresh Mahadevan and Ramzaini Idris, was accused of unauthorised possession of Mathematics, Paper I, via a Lenovo smartphone.

Both allegedly committed the offences between Sept 8 and 16, 2014, when the examination was in progress.

They were charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, which carries the penalty of a jail term of between one and seven years.

Judge Kamaluddin Md Said, who heard the government’s appeal against Murugan’s acquittal, also upheld Jagjit’s decision.

The government has also filed an appeal against Murugan’s acquittal in the Court of Appeal.

UPSR examination paper leaks forced 473,175 pupils from 8,384 schools nationwide to resit their Science and English papers on Sept 30.

Earlier today, government lawyer Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud told the bench that the then Malaysian Examinations Board director Naimah Ishak was authorised to classify the examination papers under the OSA.

“As public officer, under Section 16A of the OSA, she could classify documents without authorisation from the education minister,” he said.

He also said the author of a certificate which listed out the names of officers who could classify documents need not be called to testify in court.

“It is a public document and is admissible evidence. The author need only be called if it involved a private document,” he added.

Awang Armadajaya said former education minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s private secretary had told the court that his boss had seen the certificate which authorised Naimah to classify documents.

Counsel M Kulasegaran, who appeared for Subbarau, said Muhyiddin should have been called as a witness to prove the prosecution’s case.

“Only Muhyiddin could classify documents and could not delegate it to Naimah,” he said.

Kulasegaran said his client did not commit any offence as the examination papers were not classified.

He also said the prosecution’s case was fatal as it did not call any witness who allegedly received the examination papers through WhatsApp from Subbarau.