High Court judges can review excessive sentences for MCO, says ex-judge

Retired judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus says a High court judge can review any case if the sentence is obviously inappropriate under the circumstances or it is harsh.

PETALING JAYA: A High Court judge can immediately review cases of offenders who are sentenced excessively for violating the movement control order (MCO) aimed at checking the spread of the Covid-19 virus, retired judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus said today.

“The judge can call up a case on his own even after reading a case in the newspapers. There is no need to wait for a revision or appeal,” he said.

Hishamudin, who retired as Court of Appeal judge, said such power was provided for under Sections 31 and 35 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and Sections 323 and 325 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Hishamudin, who once served as senior assistant registrar at the High Court in Ipoh 45 years ago, said the late judge, Eusoffe Abdoolcader used to call up cases from the lower courts.

“A judge can review the case if the sentence is inappropriate under the circumstances, or it is harsh, or fails to look into the overcrowding problem in prison if a person is sent to jail,” he told FMT.

He said a decision from the High Court that dispensed justice could be guidance to magistrates or Sessions Court judges.

Hishamudin said this in response to two labourers who were caught fishing during the MCO and who were sentenced to three months’ jail each by a magistrate’s Court in Sungai Siput, Perak.

Chin Chee Wei and Chong Poh Wah, who pleaded guilty to the offence, said they were only trying to put food on the table for their families.

The two, who were on a motorcycle, had gone fishing at a pond in Rimba Panjang on Thursday and were stopped by policemen doing their rounds.

Their counsel, Balakrishna Balaravi Pillai, from the National Legal Aid Foundation, mitigated that the accused could not find any work since the MCO was implemented.

He suggested they perform community service instead of jail time.

Balakrishna said he would file for a revision of the sentence at the Ipoh High Court.