PETALING JAYA: A magistrate has the discretion to excuse the presence of a person who wants to plead guilty to a summons case, a former government lawyer said.
Shamsul Sulaiman said Section 137 of the Criminal Procedure Code allowed a person to ask the judge for his presence in court to be dispensed with.
“The person could well in advance, before the returning date, write to the court but the discretion is with the magistrate,” said Shamsul, who is now a practising lawyer.
He said if the magistrate agreed, the person would have to settle the fine within seven days after the court’s letter is delivered.
He said the permission to be away from court only applied to summons offences that only carried a fine or a jail term of up to three months or both.
Shamsul said another way was for the person’s lawyer to appear in court and inform the magistrate that the client’s presence be dispensed with.
“Here again, the magistrate has the discretion to allow such an application,” he said.
Shamsul said this in response to the High Court on Friday ordering Road Transport Department deputy director-general Yusoff Ayob to be charged again for driving in the emergency lane.
Judicial Commissioner Ab Karim Ab Rahman used his revisionary powers to set aside the guilty plea and the RM600 fine meted out to Yusoff.
He ordered Yusoff to enter his plea personally at the Putrajaya magistrate’s court tomorrow.
On July 18, Yusoff, who was represented by his special officer, had pleaded guilty to committing the offence in Putrajaya on Oct 7 last year.
Magistrate Nik Isfahanie Tasnim Ab Rahman meted out the fine to Yusoff, 58, in default seven days’ jail. He paid the fine.
The offence is punishable under Section 119(1)(c) of the Road Transport Act 1987, which carries a fine of up to RM2,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
JPJ prosecuting officer Mohd Hafizuddin Mohd Lutfi prosecuted the case.
Reporters who approached the special officer for details said Yusoff could not be present as he had a programme to attend to at RTD headquarters.
It was reported today that Yusoff was transferred to the Public Service Department (PSD) following the traffic offence.