Press Statement: Lawyers for Liberty is gravely dismayed over the High Court’s decision today (20.12.2010) that allowed the preliminary objections raised by the Senior Federal Counsel, stating that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear K Selvach’s Habeas Corpus Application challenging the legality of his detention Order under section 3(1) of the Dangerous Drugs (Preventive Measures Act) 1985 as it has become academic since the Home Minister has issued the two year detention Order under section 6(1) of the same Act on 13.12.2010.

Despite the fact that they were aware of the pending hearing of the said application in respect of the Order issued by the Police under section 3(1) of the 1985 Act, the Home Ministry had maliciously proceeded to issue the two year detention Order and deliberately removed K Selvach from the High Court’s jurisdiction to hear the legality of his first detention Order.

The Court in its Circular dated 23.06.2010 has expressly directed that all habeas corpus applications shall be fixed for hearing within seven (7) days upon filing. However, upon the filing of the application for Habeas Corpus of K Selvach on 10.11.2010, the Court took two weeks to fix a hearing date despite repeated demands made by the Counsel for a hearing date to be fixed urgently. On the hearing date of the application, the Federal Counsel despite the fact that they had been notified of the application prior to the hearing date be fixed, asked for an adjournment of the hearing.

Despite repeated demands made by Counsel for K Selvach that the hearing of the application be expedited based on the urgency of the situation on the previous hearing dates, the Court had refused to entertain the demands made by the Counsel acting for K Selvach and had granted the Federal Counsel’s application for adjournment. The long adjournment granted by the Court had given the Home Ministry the opportunity to maliciously issue the two year detention Order as to frustrate the hearing of the habeas corpus application.

The Court had ignored established principles that enunciated that habeas corpus application must be heard expeditiously as it is regarded as the highest constitutional safeguards accorded to an individual whose fundamental right has been infringed by draconian preventive laws which license detention without trial.

We hereby hold the Court responsible in allowing miscarriage of justice and deprivation of fundamental rights of a person under habeas corpus application as a result of the Court’s refusal to uphold a person’s fundamental right to be heard expeditiously. The Court’s refusal to adhere to this established principle had conveniently allowed the Home Ministry to resort to malicious tactical maneuver in issuing the two year detention Order even though they well aware of the fact that the hearing to challenge the 60 day Order was still pending.

Instead of punishing the contemptuous act of the Home Ministry by deliberately removing K Selvach out of the jurisdiction of the Court pending the hearing of his habeas corpus application, the Court, has proceeded to affirm the Home Ministry’s act in light of its verdict delivered today.

The Court, being entrusted to uphold justice and fundamental liberties has time and time again failed to discharge its constitutional duties to carefully scrutinize the application of the abusive preventive laws in the hands of the Home Ministry.

Since the date of his arrest on 25.10.2010 until today, K Selvach has been brutally assaulted right at the point of his arrest, repeatedly assaulted in detention and based on the new information given by Batu Gajah Detention Centre, he is now being admitted to Ipoh Hospital for head injury and broken teeth.

The fear of K Selvach’s safety has received the attention of International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) which demands the competent authorities of Malaysia to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the beatings suffered by Mr. K. Selvachandran during his arrest and detention, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law.

Lawyers for Liberty shall challenge the decision of the High Court as to give meaning to the highest constitutional safeguard of habeas corpus application in its vigilant fight against arbitrary arrest and detention under the vicious preventive laws that licence detention without trial.

Issued By Lawyers for Liberty