SINGAPORE - The Attorney-General has filed a complaint of misconduct with the Law Society against lawyer M. Ravi for releasing court documents to the media that involved four of his clients before they had even been served on the Attorney-General's office.
The Attorney-General also alleges that Mr Ravi made statements that prejudiced the cases in the minds of the public, thereby contravening rules of professional conduct.
Based on the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society has now applied to the Chief Justice to appoint a disciplinary tribunal to hear the complaint.
Rajah & Tann Senior Counsel Andre Yeap has been appointed to act for the society in the case.
Mr Ravi, who released details of the Attorney-General's move to the media yesterday, said he would "vigorously defend his position both locally and internationally". He returns on Saturday from Malaysia, where he is campaigning on behalf of one of his clients.
The Attorney-General alleged that Mr Ravi acted in a manner unbefitting of a lawyer when he released the papers to the media prematurely.
Three of the cases sought judicial reviews of decisions and one was a constitutional challenge by a gay man seeking to outlaw discrimination on grounds of sexuality.
The court reviews sought were of a drug trafficker's eligibility for a certificate of cooperation with authorities, the deportation of a foreign worker involved in a riot in Little India and a mother's failed bid to reopen a coroner's case for the death of her son in prison.
The Attorney-General said, in each case, the documents were released to the media the day they were filed in court and before they were served on the Attorney-General's office.
"Media reports and statements by members of the public could have been made pertaining to these court documents at a time when the (Attorney-General) was not even aware of the commencement of these proceedings," stated the complaint.
The Attorney-General argued the premature release was calculated to interfere with a fair proceeding by prejudicing the minds of the public. It noted, among other things, that releasing Mr Lawrence Wee's affidavit in his discrimination case last August was improper as it contained potentially defamatory comments against his boss.
The comments were reproduced on Fridae Asia's webpage and led to many comments targeted at the boss.
The Attorney-General also took issue with Mr Ravi for giving press statements that it said could amount to contempt of court as they were about trials that had not been concluded.
About convicted death row drug trafficker Cheong Chun Yin, Mr Ravi had challenged the Public Prosecutor's decision not to grant Cheong a certificate of cooperation which would have stayed the execution and e-mailed statements to media that interfered with the prospects of a fair trial.
The Attorney-General said the documents were sent to the media to gain an "unfair advantage" in public discourse and hold the courts and persons up to "public obloquy". He argued it also undermined the authority of the Registrar, who oversaw the release of such documents.
The Attorney-General's Chambers told The Straits Times yesterday it had filed a complaint "only after a sustained period of such conduct by Mr Ravi had been observed".
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