Hindraf lawyer gets his passport back

(Malaysian Mirror) – The High Court has revised a Sessions Court ruling made in December, 2007, allowing P Uthayakumar, the legal advisor of the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), to get his passport back.

High Court Judicial Commissioner Zainal Azman Ab Aziz set aside the order of the Sessions Court which withheld Uthayakumar’s passport and set bail at RM50,000. The High Court also lowered his bail to RM10,000.p uthayakumar.jpg

The charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or imprisonment up to three years or both.

Uthayakumar, 48, had claimed trial at a Sessions Court here on Dec 11, 2007 to publishing a seditious letter addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on a website. He was said to have committed the offence at Menara Mutiara Bangsar between Nov 15 and Dec 8, 2007.

Uthayakumar filed the revision application on May 18 to get his passport back to enable him to seek medical treatment abroad for his heart condition and to reduce his bail.

First offence

Zainal Azman said based on the facts, this is a first offence for the applicant and it falls under a bailable offence. “It is clear that the court cannot put any conditions on an applicant’s bail except to state the amount of the bail.

Neither can the court put any conditions, he said. "And the decision by the Sessions Court that the applicant’s international passport must be surrendered is a mistake.” He said a bail sum is fixed at a level where it is enough to compel the accused to appear before court and it does not need to be excessive.

“In this case, the applicant is facing a charge which carries a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or imprisonment up to three years or both. “And with that, the bail sum of RM50,000 in this case is too high compared with the fine faced by the applicant,” he said.

ISA not connected with Sedition Act

He also ruled that Internal Security Act (ISA) provisions could not be connected with the Sedition Act.“Based on the case, a revision is allowed and the Sessions Court order has been set aside.

“The bail is lowered from RM50,000 to RM10,00. The applicant’s international passport is returned,” he said.

Present at the decision was Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Mohd Akhir and defending lawyer N. Surendran.

Outside court, Uthayakumar said he was very happy with the decision and an 'injustice' has been undone. “I can finally obtain medical treatment in London,” he told newsmen. Uthayakumar is suffering from an inherited cardiac arrest disease.