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CASES OF THE WEEK

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: Charge - Alternative charge - Duty of court when faced with alternative charge of possession to main charge of trafficking - Whether in absence of direct evidence of trafficking court should not readily rely on presumption of trafficking - Whether court should deliberate on issue of possession first before considering issue of trafficking - Whether at end of defence's case court must consider both issues of trafficking and possession - Whether calling of defence on trafficking charge did not mean alternative charge of possession need not be dealt with - Whether impeachment of witnesses while giving evidence procedural flaw curable under s. 422 Criminal Procedure Code or s. 60 Courts of Judicature Act 1964

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: Trial - Alternative charge - Alternative charge of possession and main charge of trafficking - Miscarriage of justice - Whether trial process compromised by perverse findings of trial judge - Provisions of Criminal Procedure Code - Whether breached - Whether constitutional rights of accused violated - Whether factual matrix of case warranted acquittal


TONG KAM YEW & ANOR v. PP
COURT OF APPEAL, PUTRAJAYA
MOHAMED APANDI ALI JCA; LINTON ALBERT JCA; HAMID SULTAN ABU BACKER JCA
[CRIMINAL APPEAL NO: B-05-63-2011]
20 MARCH 2013

This was the appellants' appeal against their conviction and sentence by the High Court on a drug trafficking charge. Both appellants had faced two principal joint charges of trafficking under s. 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (`DDA') - one with respect to 143.8g methamphetamine (`the first charge') and the other with regard to 12g nimetazepam (`the second charge'). The appellants were also charged with two alternative charges under s. 12(2) of the DDA ie, for jointly having possession of the drugs stated in the two principal charges at the same place and time. At the end of the prosecution's case, the trial judge found that a prima facie case on the two principal trafficking charges had been made out. No mention was made about the alternative charges. At the close of the defence's case, the trial judge held the prosecution had only proved the first charge against the appellants. They were found guilty and sentenced to death. No mention was made either about the second charge or about the alternative charges. In their appeal, the appellants argued that because the prosecution had preferred an alternative charge of possession, because it was unsure of whether the evidence could establish a case for trafficking, the court should give reasons when it decided to convict on either the trafficking or the possession charge. If the court was in doubt between the two, the accused should have been convicted of the less serious of the two offences. The appellants also submitted that the trial judge prematurely and wrongly impeached two witnesses, SP2 and SD2, while they were giving evidence. SP2, according to the prosecution's narrative, had driven the first appellant in a car to a restaurant. While SP2 waited in the car, the first appellant went into the restaurant and, while there, met the second appellant who passed a bag to the first appellant. At that juncture, a police party lying in ambush arrested both appellants as well as SP2. SP2 was impeached by the trial judge simply because he was unable to recall the name of the restaurant. In his defence, the first appellant relied on the evidence of three witnesses who were at the restaurant at the material time - a Myanmar national who worked as a waiter, a lady who ran a satay stall at the premises and SD2, who was a cashier there. The trial judge disbelieved the testimonies of the first appellant and his witnesses and refused to admit in evidence the witness statement of the Myanmar national, who had by the time of the trial left the country, on the ground that the defence had failed to take sufficient steps to secure that person's attendance.

Held (unanimously allowing appeal; setting aside conviction and sentence; acquitting and discharging appellants of all charges)

Per Hamid Sultan Abu Backer JCA delivering the judgment of the court:

(1) The judgment of the trial court was inchoate and not focused and the grounds of judgment showed that the integrity of the decision-making process had been compromised without adherence to the strict provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (`CPC') and, that too, in a capital punishment case where the constitutional provisions were clear that the court could only take the life of a person according to law (art 5(1) of the Federal Constitution). (para 9)

(2) The factual matrix of the case did not warrant a retrial but only an acquittal as miscarriage of justice had set in at the prosecution stage as well as at the end of the trial and the integrity of the whole trial process had been compromised. (para 20)

(3) By calling for the defence on the two trafficking charges and finding only one of them had been proved without explaining the reason for such a finding had indeed compromised the decision. The decision was also in conflict in that both types of drugs in the charges were seized at the same time yet one charge of trafficking was proved while the other was not. There was also no order for acquittal in respect of the second charge which technically would be hanging over the heads of the appellants. Such a decision was not only perverse but in breach of s. 182A of the CPC. (para 10)

(4) The trial court had readily applied the presumption of trafficking without addressing its mind to the fact that the prosecution was not sure whether it was a case of trafficking or possession. On the factual matrix of the case, the court should have deliberated on the issue of possession before applying its mind to trafficking. In all capital punishment cases where there was no direct evidence of trafficking, it did not fall upon the court to rely on the presumption of trafficking to pave the way for the accused to be convicted and hanged when the prosecution had readily offered an alternative charge. (paras 11 & 12)

(5) Just because the accused was called to enter his defence for trafficking did not necessarily mean that the issue of possession should not be considered at all. At the close of the defence's case, the court must deal with both the issues of trafficking and possession. At the end of the case, the accused might be acquitted of trafficking but where the charge for possession could be sustained, he must be convicted and sentenced accordingly. (paras 13 & 14)

(6) The issues relating to impeachment were not purely procedural and could not be cured under s. 422 of the CPC or s. 60 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 ('CJA 1964'). The impeachment of SP2 and SD2 and the refusal to admit the statement of the Myanmar national were perverse to the defence to rebut the presumption of trafficking. It was like tying the hands of the defence in all aspects and inviting it to rebut the presumption, that too, on the required standard of balance of probabilities. (para 30)

(7) There was a duty and obligation on the part of the trial judge to consider the evidence of the defence justly and fairly, whether it be hearsay or dock statement, with no obligation to believe same save as to the requirement to give reasons why the court rejected the evidence. (para 13)

Bahasa Malaysia Translation Of Headnotes

Ini adalah rayuan perayu-perayu terhadap sabitan dan hukuman mereka oleh Mahkamah Tinggi. Kedua-dua perayu dihadapkan dengan dua pertuduhan secara bersama mengedar dadah di bawah s. 39B(1)(a) Akta Dadah Berbahaya 1952 ('ADB') - satu berhubungan 143.8g methamphetamine ('pertuduhan pertama') sementara yang satu lagi berkaitan 12g nimetazepam ('pertuduhan kedua'). Perayu-perayu juga dituduh dengan dua pertuduhan alternatif di bawah s. 12(2) ADB, iaitu kerana secara bersama memiliki dadah-dadah yang dinyatakan dalam pertuduhan-pertuduhan utama di tempat dan masa yang sama. Di akhir kes pendakwaan, hakim bicara mendapati bahawa satu kes prima facie telah dibuktikan terhadap kedua-dua pertuduhan pengedaran utama. Tiada apa yang dikatakan oleh hakim mengenai pertuduhan-pertuduhan alternatif. Di akhir kes pembelaan, hakim bicara memutuskan bahawa pendakwaan hanya berjaya membuktikan tuduhan pertama terhadap perayu-perayu dan dengan itu mereka disabitkan dan dijatuhkan hukuman mati. Tiada apa-apa pun dikatakan oleh hakim mengenai pertuduhan kedua atau pertuduhan-pertuduhan alternatif. Dalam rayuan mereka, perayu-perayu menghujahkan bahawa oleh kerana pendakwaan telah menawarkan pertuduhan alternatif milikan, dan oleh kerana pendakwaan juga tidak pasti sama ada keterangan akan membuktikan suatu kes pengedaran, maka mahkamah harus memberikan sebab-sebab apabila memutuskan untuk mensabit atas salah satu daripada kesalahan mengedar atau milikan. Dan seterusnya, jika mahkamah berasa sangsi antara keduanya, maka tertuduh harus disabitkan dengan kesalahan yang kurang serius daripada kedua-dua kesalahan tersebut. Perayu-perayu juga menghujahkan bahawa hakim bicara telah secara pra-matang dan salah mencabar kebolehpercayaan dua orang saksi, SP2 dan SD2, sewaktu mereka memberi keterangan. SP2, menurut naratif pendakwaan, telah membawa perayu pertama ke sebuah restoran dengan sebuah kereta. Sementara SP2 menunggu di dalam kereta, perayu pertama telah memasuki restoran dan, semasa di situ, menemui perayu kedua yang memberikannya sebuah beg. Ketika itu, sepasukan polis, yang sedang melakukan serang hendap, telah menangkap kedua-dua perayu serta SP2. SP2 dicabar kebolehpercayaannya oleh hakim bicara semata-mata kerana dia gagal mengingati nama restoran tersebut. Dalam pembelaannya, perayu pertama bersandarkan pada keterangan tiga orang saksi yang berada di restoran pada waktu material, iaitu seorang rakyat Myanmar yang bekerja sebagai pelayan restoran, seorang peniaga warung wanita yang berniaga sate di situ dan SD2, juruwang restoran. Hakim bicara tidak mempercayai testimoni perayu pertama dan saksi-saksinya dan enggan menerima masuk kenyataan saksi rakyat Myanmar, yang telah meninggalkan negara ini semasa perbicaraan dijalankan, sebagai keterangan, atas alasan pembelaan gagal mengambil langkah-langkah munasabah untuk memastikan kehadirannya di mahkamah.

Diputuskan (membenarkan rayuan; mengenepikan sabitan dan hukuman; membebaskan perayu-perayu dari semua pertuduhan)

Oleh Hamid Sultan Abu Backer HMR menyampaikan penghakiman mahkamah:

(1) Penghakiman hakim bicara adalah tidak lengkap dan tidak fokus. Alasan penghakiman menunjukkan bahawa integriti proses membuat keputusan telah dikompromi tanpa mematuhi peruntukan-peruntukan ketat Kanun Tatacara Jenayah ('KTJ') dan, itu juga, dalam satu kes hukuman mati di mana peruntukan-peruntukan perlembagaan adalah jelas bahawa mahkamah hanya boleh mengambil nyawa seseorang mengikut undang-undang (fasal 5(1) Perlembagaan Persekutuan).

(2) Matriks fakta kes tidak mewajarkan suatu perbicaraan semula tetapi suatu pembebasan. Ini kerana salah bawa keadilan telah berlaku di peringkat kes pendakwaan dan di akhir perbicaraan, dan integriti keseluruhan proses perbicaraan telah dikompromi.

(3) Dengan memanggil pembelaan atas dua pertuduhan mengedar dan mendapati hanya salah satu daripadanya telah dibuktikan tanpa menjelaskan alasan-alasan bagi dapatan tersebut, maka keputusan telah dikompromi. Keputusan juga bercanggah dalam ertikata kedua-dua jenis dadah dirampas pada masa yang sama tetapi hanya satu pertuduhan pengedaran dibuktikan sementara yang satu lagi tidak. Tambahan lagi, tiada perintah pembebasan dibuat bagi pertuduhan kedua, yang bererti pertuduhan tersebut, secara teknikalnya, masih tergantung atas perayu-perayu. Keputusan sedemikian bukan sahaja bertentangan tetapi juga melanggar s. 182A KTJ.

(4) Mahkamah bicara telah mengguna pakai anggapan pengedaran tanpa mengarahkan mindanya kepada fakta bahawa pihak pendakwaan tidak pasti sama ada ia adalah satu kes pengedaran atau milikan. Atas matriks fakta kes, mahkamah sepatutnya mengupas isu milikan sebelum mengarahkan mindanya kepada pengedaran. Dalam semua kes hukuman mati, yang mana tiada keterangan pengedaran secara langsung, mahkamah tidak boleh bergantung kepada anggapan pengedaran bagi membuka jalan agar tertuduh disabitkan dan digantung sedangkan pendakwaan dengan rela menawarkan pertuduhan pilihan.

(5) Hanya kerana tertuduh dipanggil untuk membela diri kerana mengedar tidak semestinya bermakna isu milikan langsung tidak perlu dipertimbangkan. Di akhir kes pembelaan, mahkamah harus menangani kedua-dua isu pengedaran dan milikan. Di akhir kes, tertuduh mungkin dibebaskan atas pertuduhan pengedaran tetapi di mana pertuduhan milikan boleh dipertahankan dia hendaklah disabitkan dan dihukum sekadarnya.

(6) Isu-isu berhubung pencabaran kebolehpercayaan bukan berbentuk prosedur semata-mata dan adalah tidak boleh dipulihkan di bawah s. 422 KTJ atau s. 60 Akta Mahkamah Kehakiman 1964. Pencabaran kebolehpercayaan SP2 dan SD2 dan keengganan menerima masuk kenyataan warga Myanmar adalah bertentangan bagi pihak pembelaan untuk menyangkal anggapan pengedaran. Ia seolah-olah mengikat tangan pembelaan dalam segala aspek dan kemudian memintanya mematahkan anggapan, itu pun berdasarkan keperluan standard imbangan kebarangkalian.

(7) Wujud tanggungjawab dan obligasi di sisi hakim bicara untuk menimbang keterangan pembelaan dengan adil dan saksama, sama ada ianya keterangan pandang dengar atau kenyataan dari kandang. Apapun, tiada obligasi untuk mempercayai keterangan-keterangan tersebut kecuali setakat keperluan memberi sebab mengapa mahkamah menolak keterangan berkenaan.

Case(s) referred to:

Crane v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1921] 2 AC 299 (refd)

King Seng Hock & Anor v. PP (Jenayah No: J-05-68-2009) (Unreported) (refd)

Leong Bon Huat v. PP [1993] 3 CLJ 603 SC (refd)

Mohamad Radhi Yaakob v. PP [1991] 3 CLJ 2073; [1991] 1 CLJ (Rep) 311 SC (refd)

Muthusamy v. PP [1947] 1 LNS 71 HC (refd)

PP v. Ang Soon Huat [1990] 1 LNS 103 HC (refd)

R v. Gee, Bibby and Dunscombe [1936] 2 All ER 89 (refd)

Sochima Okoye v. PP [1995] 3 CLJ 371 CA (refd)

Subramaniam v. PP [1956] 1 LNS 115 PC (refd)

Tunde Apatira & Ors v. PP [2001] 1 CLJ 381 FC (refd)

Yee Wen Chin v. PP & Another Appeal [2008] 6 CLJ 773 CA (refd)

Yusof A Samad v. PP [2004] 4 SLR 58 (refd)

Legislation referred to:

Courts of Judicature Act 1964, s. 60

Criminal Procedure Code, ss. 182A, 422

Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, ss. 12(2), 39A(2), 39B(1)(a)

Federal Constitution, art. 5(1)

Penal Code, s. 34

Counsel:

For the appellant - Hisyam Teh Poh Teik; M/s Teh Poh Teik & Co

Amirul Ridzuan Hanif; M/s Hanif & Co

For the respondent - Mohamad Abazafree; DPP

[Editor's note: For the High Court judgment, please see PP v. Tong Kam Yew & Anor [2011] 1 LNS 1839].

Reported by Ashok Kumar


CONTRACT: Sale and purchase agreement - Breach - Allegation of - Whether sale and purchase of shares executed - Whether plaintiff had right to claim for monies - Whether there was a concluded contract - Whether an email without corroboration determines intention to create legal binding relations of parties


DEAN JOHN SMITH v. SEAN KOK WAH [2013] 1 SMC 24
SESSIONS COURT, KUALA LUMPUR
AZIAN OTHMAN SJ
[SUMMONS NO: 52-18038-05-2012]
4 DECEMBER 2012

This was the plaintiff's claim against the defendant for a breach of a sale and purchase contract for the sale of the plaintiff's 20,005 shares ('shares') in a company known as Bimbit.Com Sdn Bhd. The plaintiff had entered into a contract with the defendant to subscribe the shares for a sum of RM113,000. The shareholders agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant stated that if the plaintiff wished to sell his shares, he could only sell it to the defendant and that the defendant would repurchase the shares at the fair market price to be agreed between the parties. The offer by the defendant to the plaintiff was put into writing via email on 15 August 2011. The plaintiff contended that there was a concluded contract between the plaintiff and the defendant when the plaintiff accepted the defendant's offer to purchase the plaintiff's shares at RM200,000. However, the defendant denied liability by asserting that there was no formal sale and purchase agreement between the two parties. The main issue that arose for consideration was whether the email constituted a contract between the plaintiff and the defendant.

Held (dismissing plaintiff's claim with costs):

(1) A contract is defined as a legally enforceable agreement between two or more persons. An agreement is reached between the parties, by one of them making an "offer" to the other and that other indicating his unqualified "acceptance". From the email, the plaintiff's acceptance of the defendant's offer was subject to a formal agreement being executed. (para 24)

(2) The shares had been in the possession and registered in the plaintiff's name. No sale and purchase was executed by the plaintiff and the defendant. Since there was no sale and purchase of the said shares, the plaintiff had no right to claim for the said sum of RM200,000 from the defendant. (paras 16 & 17)

(3) The deemed concluded contract between the plaintiff and the defendant did not have any terms, such as, what were the obligations of the plaintiff and the defendant and when the sale and purchase of the plaintiff's shares was to begin or be completed. For any agreement to be valid and legally binding, the terms and conditions had to be clear and not ambiguous in order for it to have legal effect. From the totality of the evidence, it was found that the plaintiff and defendant had no intention to conclude a binding contract. (paras 31-34)

(4) There was no agreement whatsoever that had been executed between the plaintiff and the defendant. A mere email without corroboration would not by itself determine the intention to create legal relations of parties. Thus, the plaintiff's case had not been proven on a balance of probability. (paras 36 & 37)

Case(s) referred to:

Lim Chia Min v. Chean Sang Ngeow & Anor [1997] 2 CLJ 337 FC (refd)

Counsel:

For the plaintiff - Mansheel Kaur; M/s Fernandez & Selvarajah

For the defendant - Audrey Quah; M/s Shui-Tai

Reported by Suhainah Wahiduddin

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