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Hindraf slams 10-year jail time for petty crime as excessive - FMT

Hindraf wants a review of sentencing policies instead of the judiciary imposing rigid, inhumane laws for the sake of

justtice.jpgKUALA LUMPUR: Hindraf has called on the Law Minister and Chief Justice to review sentencing policies so that it is tailored to the needs of the community and is not imposed in a rigid manner that is inhumane.

Chairman of Hindraf, P Waytha Moorthy made this call in reference to the sentencing of a first-time offender to ten years in prison for stealing rice and cans of sardines.

“Hindraf is of the view the 10-year sentence for a youth offender is not only manifestly excessive but would be unacceptable by any standard of common sense and public interest,” he said in a statement today when commenting on 22-year-old Shashikumar who police alleged hanged himself in his cell while serving out his prison term.

Condemning the judiciary for “sitting in their ivory tower” and pushing paper, he added, “The sentencing judge was out of touch with reality and no doubt insensitive.”

Waytha said the judge failed to consider that the young man had surrendered voluntarily to the authorities and had pleaded guilty instantly when the charge was read out to him.

“The charge sheet would have revealed immediately that the items stolen were basic food items.

“The Judge conducting the matter should have used common sense and inquired as to the circumstances leading to the theft by the accused more so when the accused was a youth and unrepresented,” he argued.

Saying that the judge should have meted out a sentence that would have taught the boy a lesson with the view of absorbing him back into society, Waytha added, “It is plain and clear the judge cared less and was insensitive to the plight of the poor and underclass society.”

He said judges while considering what sentences to mete out, should consider the four crucial elements of “deterrence, rehabilitation, prevention and retribution”.

Stressing that sentencing policies should be humane, he explained, “Sentencing offenders should not depend on a mathematical and statutory determined yardstick but by considering facts and circumstances relating to the offence, the offender and public interest.”

Insisting that sentencing policies be reviewed, he argued that the purposes of law and punishment should meet the requirements of the country and the people and not be used to “purely punish for the sake of punishing”.