Limits on the Scope of Judicial Review of Administrative Determinations: Lessons from Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGCA 37  

The Second Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) mandates the death penalty for drug trafficking of certain quantities of drugs. However, since the 2013 amendments, section 33B of the Act now allows the court to sentence a drug courier to life imprisonment instead: (i) when the Public Prosecutor has issued a “certificate of substantive assistance”, or (ii) when the courier suffers from an “abnormality of mind”. In Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor, the Court of Appeal addressed when the Public Prosecutor can be challenged in making his decision whether to issue a certificate of substantive assistance, and when an offender would be found to be suffering from an abnormality of mind.

Presumption vs Proof: Zainal bin Hamad v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 62

In Zainal bin Hamad v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 62, the Court of Appeal clarified the application of the presumptions under sections 17 and 18 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (“MDA”), which relate to a presumption of trafficking (s17); presumption of possession (s18(1)); and presumption of knowledge (s18(2)). Here, the offenders were convicted by the High Court of drug trafficking offences under the MDA; their appeals to the Court of Appeal were based in part on rebutting these presumptions. The Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals for, inter alia, failing to rebut the presumptions.

Unpacking the Courier Exception in the Misuse of Drugs Act: Zainudin bin Mohamed v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 8

When is a drug trafficker who claims to be a mere ‘courier’ not merely a ‘courier’? The Court of Appeal addressed this question in Zainudin bin Mohamed v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 8. The issue was whether a drug trafficker who divided and repacked drugs was merely “transporting, sending or delivering a controlled drug” under s 33B(2)(a)(iii) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (“MDA”), and hence eligible for discretionary life imprisonment (rather than the death penalty) under this so-called “courier exception”.