Karpal moves to have AG withdraw sedition charge
The court has granted the sedition case against Karpal Singh an adjournment in view of the latter’s move to have the attorney-general (AG) withdraw the sedition charge.
Based on the repeal of the draconian Sedition Act 1945 announced by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak last week, Karpal sent a representation to the AG today to make a case for the withdrawal.
Lawyer Jagdeep Singh Deo (left), in applying for another date for the sedition charge hearing, told the court they want the AG to reconsider the consent he had issued to prosecute Karpal under section 5 of the Sedition Act.
“This is in light of the PM’s announcement that the Act will be repealed.
“We want the AG to use his discretion under Article 145 of the federal constitution in considering to withdraw the charge,” he said.
“We apply for a short adjournment date to await the response to the said representation,” he said.
Justice Azman Abdullah said the court has considered the new application made by the defence.
“There is basis to the application, and I grant the postponement for a short period for the AG to consider the representation. Although the prosecution is prepared with the case, there is basis,” he said.
Following this, Azman fixed Aug 3 for the continuation of the hearing.
Charged over comment on sultan
Karpal, who is also Bukit Gelugor MP is charged with sedition by saying in a press conference on Feb 6, 2009, that legal action could be instituted against the Perak sultan for his role in the state constitutional crisis earlier that year.
Today was fixed for hearing of Karpal’s application to strike out the charge.
The 72-year-old politician is charged under Section 4(1) (b) of the Sedition Act, which is carries a fine of up to RM5,000 or three years jail, or both, upon conviction.
Besides Jagdeep, the other lawyers representing Karpal were Gobind Singh Deo, Ramkarpal, and Sangeet Kaur.
DPPs Noorin Badaruddin and Azlina Rasdi appeared for the prosecution.
‘Withdraw all sedition charges’
Karpal, when met outside court, said that he and (Hindu Rights Action Force leader) P Uthayakumar are the only individuals left with the charge.
He said since Najib himself had acknowledged the law is outdated and would be repealed, then the government should extend this to those who are facing the charge.
“I urge the government to bona fide withdraw the charge against me and Uthayakumar, who are the two remaining people charged with sedition, or any others who are facing sedition charges.
“This is only right if the government is sincere in repealing the Act,” said the veteran lawyer.
On July 11, Najib, while attending the Attorney-General’s Chambers dinner had announced the government’s intention to repeal the Sedition Act and replace it with the National Harmony Act.
The decision to repeal the Act, Najib said, was to find a mechanism that could ensure the best balance between the need to guarantee the freedom of speech for every citizen and the need to handle the complexity of plurality existing in the country.
“With this new Act we would be better equipped to manage our national fault lines. It will also help to strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony,” he said.
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