No need to state meth is a drug, says court in overturning acquittal

A pathologist report need not state that methamphetamine was a drug under Schedule One of the Dangerous Drugs Act, says the Court of Appeal. (Bloomberg pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today ruled that it is acceptable for a pathologist not to state that methamphetamine (meth) is a drug under Schedule One of the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA), after a urine sample was tested positive for the substance.

A three-member bench chaired by Yaacob Md Sam said it was not necessary for the pathologist to explicitly write those words in his report.

“We are of the view that there is no prejudice or miscarriage of justice when the pathologist did not include the words in his report,” said Yaacob.

In making this ruling, the court allowed the prosecution’s appeal against a High Court decision acquitting a trader due to the oversight by the pathologist.

Sitting with Yaacob were P Ravinthran and Ahmad Nafsy Yasin.

The prosecution appealed against the decision due to its far-reaching implication in the conduct of urine tests of drug dependants and addicts by pathologists nationwide.

The general practice is that police will send urine samples of such people to pathologists for tests, and if the outcome is positive, they will be charged in court.

In this case, trader Mohd Firdaus Ishak was caught during a police operation and a pathologist report stated that he had consumed meth.

He was charged under Section 15(1)(a) of the DDA for administering the drug.

Those found guilty of this offence are liable to a fine of up to RM5,000 or a maximum two years’ imprisonment.

The magistrate acquitted Firdaus due to an oversight by the pathologist for merely stating that the urine sample had traces of meth but not putting in writing if it is a drug under Schedule One of the DDA.

The High Court also affirmed the decision of the lower court.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar said it was not necessary to put in writing that meth was a scheduled drug under list one of the DDA or the Poisons Act as it was a fact that the court should take judicial notice.

“This is provided for under Section 57 of the Evidence Act and further supported by judicial pronouncement by the Court of Appeal,” he said.

Lawyer Hanif Hassan, who represented Firdaus, said it was vital for the pathologist to state that the drug allegedly consumed by his client was under the schedule.

“Methamphetamine is also a scheduled drug under the Poisons Act but the penalty is lower than the DDA,” he said.

Later, speaking to FMT, the defence lawyer said the pathologist’s report must be precise as there were accused persons who were also charged with consuming a multitude of drugs, like ganja and heroin.

The Court of Appeal later sentenced Firdaus to six months’ jail for consuming the drug.