Ladies and Gentlemen,
I had called yesterday to the Singapore High Court asking about a judgement in a certain civil case.
Gopalan Nair: I would like to know if a case was heard in court, does it mean that it goes into Lawnet or other search engines immediately.
Rashida Mohamad Yatim (A clerk who works there): If you want to inspect a file you can write to the Registrar requesting permission
Gopalan Nair: Does that mean that if the Registrar refuses the man would have no right to inspect it?
Rashida Mohamad Yatim: I did not say that.
Gopalan Nair: But you did say that you have to get the "approval" of the Registrar in Singapore to inspect the file.
Rashida Mohamad Yatim: Yes
Gopalan Nair: Then it would follow that if the Registrar refuses to give his "approval" you would have no right to inspect it.
Rashida Mohamad Yatim: You are twisting my words.
Gopalan Nair: I am Gopalan Nair. I have a blog "Singapore Dissident". I was in Singapore last year and was arrested and jailed for criticizing a Singapore a judge. You must have known me. I was in the newspapers almost everyday.
Rashida Mohamad Yatim: I do not know who you are and I never read anything about you.
Gopalan Nair: This right to inspect a court file should not depend on the Registrar's wishes. It is a public document and the right of anyone to inspect it. We should not have to request permission of the Registrar. In California anyone can walk into a court house and demand inspection of any court files there. This is a violation of a citizen's rights.
Rashida Mohamad Yatim: I do not know. If you want you can speak to my supervisor. You do not have my permission to write about this in your blog. You are twisting my words.
Gopalan Nair: I will explain that you refuse to give your consent and you accuse me of twisting your words. Surely that is fair.
Rashida Mohamad Yatim: This conversation is being listened by other officers. You can do what you like Sir.
End of conversation.
So Singaporeans do not have a right to inspect a court file. It will depend on whether the Registrar gives you his consent. If not you cannot inspect it. I suppose if Gopalan Nair had gone to the Registrar, he probably would not get any consent. What sort of a country is that? At the mercy of the High Court registrar?
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