In a striking blend of events, distinguished human rights lawyer M. Ravi has been sentenced to three weeks’ imprisonment by the Singaporean courts on Wednesday (8 Nov).
This development follows closely on the heels of his accolade for legal advocacy, representing a significant moment in his 20-year career.
Ravi contended with two charges of contempt of court, where the presiding judge, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng affirmed that the custodial threshold was surpassed.
The ruling also mandates Ravi to pay the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) S$10,000 for legal expenses. AGC had sought S$12,000 in legal costs, excluding disbursements of over S$6,000.
His charges are rooted in his behaviour during two distinct court cases in November 2021. He first represented Chua Qwong Meng, a former bus driver suing SBS Transit for purportedly unfair work practices. The second case involved Magendran Muniandy, a 33-year-old Malaysian, charged with the forgery of various documents.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers charged Ravi with several offences, including baseless accusations of bias against judges, persistent disruptions during court sessions, and misrepresentation of his availability for proceedings, culminating in Justice Hoo’s ruling of contempt in March.
Ravi, poised to begin his sentence, expressed on Facebook, “The High Court has just sentenced me to 21 days in prison with effect from today for contempt of court. I find the sentence harsh compared to previous cases I have cited. Additionally, I am to pay the AGC costs of $10,000, which I must later raise.”
He continued, “Opting not to appeal due to the required $20,000 security of costs to the AGC, I will immediately serve my sentence, confident that history will vindicate me.”
In spite of these legal challenges, Ravi’s contributions to human rights have not been overlooked. Earlier this month, he was lauded with the 2023 IBA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights by the International Bar Association.
This prestigious recognition celebrates his advocacy for the underprivileged, with emphasis on representing death row inmates and advancing LGBTQI rights.
Melinda Taylor, co-chair of the IBA Human Rights Committee, underscored Ravi’s impactful work, particularly in contesting anti-same-sex legislation and advocating for LGBTQI equality in the workplace. His efforts have not only made waves nationally but also internationally, earning him the title of a pioneer in ’cause’ lawyering.