Judge upholds bail for man on drug charge in landmark decision

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu High Court has dismissed the prosecution's application to revoke bail granted by the Sessions Court to a man facing enhanced penalties under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

Justice Datuk Christopher Chin Soo Yin upheld the decision of Sessions judge Ummu Kalthom Abd Samad to allow RM10,000 bail for 25-year-old Muhd Iqram Qayyum Nawamwi, who is facing charges under the Act.

Muhd Iqram was charged under Section 6 of the Act for having in his possession 63.48g of cannabis, which carries an enhanced penalty under Section 39A(2) of the Act, on Nov 9, 2021.

If he is found guilty, the punishment ranges from five years' jail to life imprisonment, as well as at least 10 strokes of the cane.

However, the prosecution led by DPP Afiq Agoes sought a revision application to revoke bail as they argued that it cannot be granted under Section 41B of the Act.

Muhd Iqram's lawyer Datuk Seri K Rakhbir Singh argued that Section 41B of the Act does not apply to someone charged with a Section 6 offence even though the accused faces enhanced penalties under Section 39A(2).

In what is being seen as a landmark decision, with no similar cases reported in the country earlier, Justice Chin said he "simply focused on the precise wording of the legislation."

"I believe this should be the starting and ending point for this argument.

"The reference to case law would help only if there is some ambiguity in the interpretation of the law or that there has been some misconstruction or misdirection.

“The enhanced penalty which the accused is subject to does not trigger any of the conditions stipulated in Section 41B of the Act.

"In this case, it becomes non-bailable only if the DPP certifies in writing that it is not in the public interest to grant bail to the accused person. Such certificate was not provided,” he said in his reserved judgment.

Justice Chin said that as such, the restriction on bail in Section 41B was not applicable in this case.

"Notwithstanding the non-application of Section 41B, it is clear in my mind that the granting of bail is still in the discretion of the learned Sessions Court judge.

"She has, within the circumstances of this case as presented to her, exercised that discretion to grant bail. There is no justifiable reason for this court to revise that decision," he said.

Muhd Iqram, a kitchen worker with a popular tea shop here, is scheduled to go on trial from Sept 14 and 15.

Rakhbir said the ruling was a landmark as previous practice for those charged under Section 6 of the Act with enhanced penalty under Section 39A(2) of the Act could not obtain bail.

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