Lift the Ban on Thaipusam Music

Lift the Ban on Thaipusam Music

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Email received from Eugene Thuraisingam's office to the 3 men who filed the appeal against the ban on playing drums during Thaipusam.

RE: Originating Summons (High Court Case No.: HC/OS 394/2015) – Hearing on 14th August 2015.

Dear all,

We ( Lawyers from Eugene Thuraisingam ) attended before the High Court Judge, Justice Tay Yong Kwang, for the hearing of your applications for permission to proceed with judicial review of the Police’s conditions that the playing of music during the Thaipusam procession be significantly restricted.

During oral argument, we supplemented the written submissions that we had sent you previously with further points, and addressed the Judge’s questions and AGC’s points.

The Judge accepted our position that all three of you, including Sathiya, have legal standing to make a judicial review application. He accepted that it is not necessary for a member of the Hindu community to actively participate in the Thaipusam procession in order to have standing to make a judicial review application.

The Judge also accepted your and the Expert’s position that the playing of music is an integral part of the Thaipusam religious experience, and that your freedom to take part in the Thaipusam procession accompanied by music forms part of your Constitutional right to practice religion that is protected by Art 15(1) of the Constitution.

The Judge however took the view that it is clear that the music restrictions constitute a lawful exercise by the Government of their power under Art 15(4) of the Constitution to make restrictions on persons’ religious liberty, for the purpose of maintaining public order.

In the circumstances, the Judge dismissed your applications for permission.

Although we challenged the AGC’s application that costs should be awarded against you on the basis that this is a public interest litigation and you do not have a private interest in the outcome of this case, the Court nevertheless ordered SGD 6,000 + disbursements of SGD 1923.80 against the three of you jointly and severally. Costs are normally awarded to parties who lose in a case.

You have one month (i.e. by 11 September 2015) to decide if you wish to appeal the Judge’s decision to refuse you permission, to the Court of Appeal. If you wish to do so, you will need to provide SGD 20,000 upfront as security of costs. Such security of costs is a rule imposed by the Court to ensure that, if the respondent to the appeal (ie the AGC in this case) succeeds in defending the High Court judge’s judgment, it will be compensated for the costs it incurred in defending your appeal.

As we had informed you earlier this year, it is difficult to win in judicial review applications. However, if you wish to proceed with the appeal, we have no problems acting for you, as we did in your High Court case.

Please do not hesitate to contact / arrange an appointment with us if you require any clarifications on the above and the case moving forward.

Yours,

Suang Wijaya
Practice Trainee | Eugene Thuraisingam LLP
T +65 6557 2436 | F +65 6557 2437 | suang.wijaya@thuraisingam.com
1 Coleman Street, #07-06, The Adelphi, Singapore 179803  | www.thuraisingam.com

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