AGC takes rare action against M Ravi for ‘vexatious’ litigations

AGC takes rare action against M Ravi for ‘vexatious’ litigations
The AGC said Mr Ravi has “habitually and persistently” and “without any reasonable ground” filed vexatious legal proceedings. TODAY File Photo
Published: 6:40 PM, October 12, 2017
Updated: 9:45 AM, October 13, 2017

SINGAPORE — In a rare move, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has taken out a legal order against non-practising lawyer M Ravi, which bars him from suing the Government, Attorney-General or Public Prosecutor without first getting the High Court’s permission.

The order declaring Mr Ravi a “vexatious litigant” was made on Wednesday (Oct 11) following a hearing behind closed doors in the High Court. Mr Ravi had agreed to the order, which requires him to convince a High Court judge that any legal proceedings against the three parties are not an abuse of the process.

The AGC made the application on the basis that Mr Ravi has “habitually and persistently” and “without any reasonable ground” filed vexatious legal proceedings.

It cited six cases in the last 11 years as examples of such unmeritorious suits Mr Ravi had filed against the Government, the Attorney-General or Public Prosecutor. Several of these criminal and civil legal actions raised “purported questions of constitutional, public or administrative law, and make serious allegations of constitutional violations”, said State Counsel Ng May in an affidavit filed on behalf of the AGC.

In all these cases, Mr Ravi either withdrew the suit prematurely or the proceedings were ruled to be without basis and dismissed in entirety.

“Given the nature and public importance of the issues raised, as well as the seriousness of the allegations made, each of Mr Ravi’s applications or actions have had to be carefully examined and responded to by the AGC,” said Ms Ng.

An AGC spokesperson added: “The principal purpose of (such an) application (to declare someone a vexatious litigant) is to prevent abuse of the court process. It also serves to protect the opposing party as well as the litigant himself.”

Mr Ravi is only the tenth individual to be declared a “vexatious litigant”. The last time the AGC made such an application was in March this year, against three individuals.

The first unmeritorious case brought by Mr Ravi that the AGC cited was in 2006, when the High Court threw out his application to suspend convicted murderer Took Leng How’s execution.

In 2011, he brought a case against the Government and Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) to challenge the constitutionality of HEB’s Thaipusam foot procession guidelines. This was dismissed too.

In November 2015, Mr Ravi also filed, then withdrew a criminal motion to the apex court seeking to set aside the conviction of Kho Jabing, who was found guilty of murder in 2010 and given the death penalty. By the time of Mr Ravi’s application, the apex court had already dismissed Kho’s appeal against his conviction in 2011. And in 2015, Kho’s application that he be re-sentenced to life imprisonment and caning in lieu of death had been disallowed.

The last three examples cited by the AGC all happened earlier this year.

In May, he sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Elected Presidency and filed separate applications which include that the hearing to be held in open court. This was dismissed in June, with the judge remarking that Mr Ravi’s case was “unmeritorious in almost every conceivable aspect” and was an “abuse of process”.

Another case was deemed withdrawn as he had not provided security for costs in his appeal against a High Court decision.

The latest example was on July 11, when he asked the Court of Appeal to suspend the execution of convicted drug trafficker Prabagaran Srivijayan. This, despite the same court having dismissed Prabagaran’s appeals in 2015 and 2016.

During the hearing on his application, Mr Ravi told the court his legal application was not about Prabagaran. Rather, it concerned his “unlawful and unconstitutional arrest” for criminal trespass.

Dismissing his case, the Court of Appeal said Mr Ravi’s criminal motion was not substantive and described it as a “totally senseless and frivolous application”.

Ms Ng said in her affidavit that Mr Ravi’s past legal challenges were “(absent) of any pursuit of serious legal contentions”.

“Rather, these proceedings were brought for the collateral purpose of promulgating Mr Ravi’s political views to a wide audience, under the pretext of serious Court applications, and to play to the public gallery,” he added.

Ms Ng also argued that adverse costs orders in any potential future application by Mr Ravi would be “unlikely to deter (him) from instituting further vexatious proceedings and using the court as a platform for political point-scoring” given that he has no financial ability to pay such costs.

Since he became a lawyer in 1997, Mr Ravi has twice been prohibited from practising. In 2006, he was suspended for a year by the Court of Three Judges for disrespectful behaviour before a District Judge during an open court hearing.

In 2015, the High Court suspended Mr Ravi because of an application from the Law Society of Singapore, out of concerns over his fitness to practice due to his mental condition. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with anxious distress since 2006.

Last year, the Court of Three Judges barred him from applying for a practising certificate for a period of two years.