T. S. Sinnathuray

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T. S. Sinnathuray
தி. ச. சின்னத்துரை
T. S. Sinnathuray.jpg
Judge of the High Court of Singapore
In office
2 October 1978 – 23 September 1997
Nominated by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
Appointed by President Benjamin Sheares
Senior District Judge of the Subordinate Courts of Singapore
In office
1971–1978
First District Judge of the Subordinate Courts of Singapore
In office
1967–1970
Personal details
Born Thirugnana Sampanthar Sinnathuray
(1930-09-22)22 September 1930
Died 18 January 2016(2016-01-18) (aged 85)
Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
Citizenship Singaporean
Alma mater UCL
Awards Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Lintang) (Public Service Star (Bar))

Thirugnana Sampanthar Sinnathuray BBM(L) (22 September 1930 – 18 January 2016),[1] known professionally as T. S. Sinnathuray and to his friends as Sam Sinnathuray,[2] was a Judge of the High Court of Singapore. Educated at University College London and called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn, he practised for a few years in a law firm before beginning a career with the Singapore Legal Service, serving with the Attorney-General's Chambers as Crown Counsel and deputy public prosecutor (1960–1963), and senior state counsel (1966–1967); with the Subordinate Courts as a magistrate (1956–1959), First District Judge (1967–1970), and Senior District Judge (1971–1978); and with the Supreme Court as Deputy Registrar and Sheriff (1959–1960), and Registrar (1963–1966). In 1978 he was elevated to the office of Judge of the High Court of Singapore, and served until his retirement in 1997.

Notable cases judged by Sinnathuray included the Toa Payoh ritual murders trial in 1983, the 1988 legal challenge by the Asian Wall Street Journal against the Government's move to restrict its circulation for having engaged in the domestic politics of Singapore, and the trial of the serial murderer John Martin Scripps in 1995. In 1986 a commission of inquiry chaired by Sinnathuray found that allegations by opposition politician J. B. Jeyaretnam that the Government had interfered with the subordinate judiciary were unfounded. Sinnathuray was one of two foreign members of the Royal Tribunal, a panel of six judges convened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia to investigate alleged misdemeanours of Tun Salleh Abas, Malaysia's Lord President of the Supreme Court, in 1988.

Sinnathuray was the first non-European to act as the President of the Singapore Cricket Club (1976–1978). Following his retirement from the Bench he pursued his interest in numismatics, becoming the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mavin International Pte. Ltd., an auction company specialising in rare coins and banknotes.

For his judicial service, Sinnathuray was conferred the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (B.B.M.; Public Service Star) at the National Day Awards in 1997. In 2009, he received an additional Lintang (Bar) on his B.B.M. for his membership of the Singapore Note and Coin Advisory Committee.

Early life and education[edit]

The Wilkins Building of University College London (UCL) in 1956. In 1953, Sinnathuray graduated from UCL with an LL.B.

T. S. Sinnathuray was born on 22 September 1930, the son of a school principal. He received his early education at Pearl's Hill School and Outram School, but this was cut short by the Japanese occupation of Singapore in February 1942. He continued his secondary education in Raffles Institution after World War II, completing his Senior Cambridge examinations there in 1948. He went on to read law at University College London and graduated in 1953. He was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn.[3]

Legal career[edit]

Upon Sinnathuray's return to Singapore, he practised law with the firm Oehlers and Choa. He was a magistrate of the Subordinate Courts of Singapore between 1956 and 1959. He was then appointed Deputy Registrar and Sheriff of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1959. Between 1960 and 1963 he was a Crown Counsel and deputy public prosecutor with the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC), before returning to the Supreme Court to become the Registrar from 1963 to 1966. He then became senior state counsel at the AGC (1966–1967), and First District Judge (1967–1970) and Senior District Judge – the most senior judge – of the Subordinate Courts (1971–1978).[3] On 2 October 1978, he was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Singapore, and served until his retirement on 23 September 1997.[4] At the time of his appointment, he was one of only six Supreme Court justices. On 1 August 1979, he was appointed the Commissioner of Appeals for Land Acquisitions.

The Old Supreme Court Building in 2009. Sinnathuray was a Judge of the High Court of Singapore between 1978 and 1997.

Notable cases judged by Sinnathuray included the Toa Payoh ritual murders trial in 1983,[5] and the trial of the serial murderer John Martin Scripps in 1995.[6] In 1985 he ruled that decisions of Singapore's Military Court of Appeal are not susceptible to judicial review in the High Court since the Military Court is a superior court of record.[7] Sinnathuray also served as the third President of the Military Court of Appeal from 1990 until 30 November 1997, and was succeeded by Justice Goh Joon Seng.[8]

On 16 May 1988, Sinnathuray ruled that the Government was entitled under the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act[9] to restrict the circulation of the Asian Wall Street Journal for having engaged in the domestic politics of Singapore.[10] The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal the following year.[11]

Sinnathuray was the inaugural chairman of the ASEAN Law Association (ALA) (Singapore Chapter) when it was formed in 1980.[12] On 18 April 1986, he was appointed by President Wee Kim Wee to chair a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations by opposition politician J. B. Jeyaretnam that the Government had interfered with the subordinate judiciary by ordering the transfer of Senior District Judge Michael Khoo to the AGC as Senior State Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor after Khoo had rendered a judgment which had allegedly displeased the Government.[13] In a report released on 19 July 1986,[14] the commission found the allegation to be unfounded.[15] In 1988, Sinnathuray was one of two foreign members of the Royal Tribunal, a panel of six judges convened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia to investigate alleged misdemeanours of Tun Salleh Abas, Malaysia's Lord President of the Supreme Court.[16]

Other interests[edit]

From 1976 to 1978, Sinnathuray served as the first non-European President of the Singapore Cricket Club (pictured in 2006)

Sinnathuray was the first non-European to be elected the President of the Singapore Cricket Club, serving from 1976 to 1978.[17] In 1993, the Singapore Chapter of University College London Alumni was founded by Sinnathuray (who served as its first President) and his fellow alumni friends to provide for the welfare and interest of UCL graduates in Singapore and as a local platform for networking with members from other chapters around the world.[18]

A numismatist and an expert on Singapore and Malaya postcards, Sinnathuray was the Chairman of the Third Singapore Note and Coin Advisory Committee of the Board of Commissioners of Currency Singapore, Monetary Authority of Singapore, serving from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2008. He was also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mavin International Pte. Ltd., an auction company specialising in rare coins and banknotes.[2][19]

Death[edit]

Sinnathuray, who had a heart condition and was on dialysis, died of pneumonia at the Singapore General Hospital on 18 January 2016.[17] He was survived by his wife Sandra Devi; his son Chandra Raj, daughter Shamona Ranee, and their spouses; and three grandchildren. His younger brother, the obstetrician and gynaecologist Datuk Professor Dr. Thirunavuk Arasu Sinnathuray, predeceased him in 1997.[1] Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said: "Justice Sinnathuray was a very popular judge who always treated counsel with great courtesy. He loved the law and the legal fraternity and made it a point to attend many of our functions and events for as long as he was able to. Many of us on the Bench today remember him warmly as a good friend and colleague. We will miss him dearly." The Attorney-General, V. K. Rajah, said that Sinnathuray had made "significant contributions" and would be "warmly remembered by the legal community for his unfailing courtesy and his commonsensical approach towards resolving knotty legal issues".[17]

Awards and honours[edit]

For his judicial service, Sinnathuray was conferred the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (B.B.M.; Public Service Star) at the National Day Awards in 1997.[20] In 2009, he received an additional Lintang (Bar) on his B.B.M. for his membership of the Singapore Note and Coin Advisory Committee.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "T. S. Sinnathuray (Sam) [obituary]", The Straits Times, p. C10, 20 January 2016 .
  2. ^ a b About the Sinnathuray Collection, Mavin International, archived from the original on 8 February 2016, retrieved 8 February 2016 .
  3. ^ a b Tommy Koh, ed. (2006), "Sinnathuray, T. S.", Singapore: The Encyclopedia, Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 506, ISBN 978-981-415563-2 .
  4. ^ Appointment of High Court Judge [Singapore Government Press Release, document no. 1210-1978-09-21], Government of Singapore, 21 September 1978 ; Tan Ooi Boon (7 October 1997), "Justice Sinnathuray retires", The Straits Times, p. 2 ; Judicial History, Supreme Court of Singapore, 12 January 2016, archived from the original on 8 February 2016 .
  5. ^ Public Prosecutor v. Adrian Lim [1983] SGHC 24, High Court (Singapore) (together with Justice Frederick Arthur Chua).
  6. ^ Tan Ooi Boon (11 November 1995), "Body parts case: Martin guilty", The Straits Times, p. 1 ; "John Martin will not appeal", The Straits Times, p. 30, 6 January 1996 ; Tan Ooi Boon (20 April 1996), "Martin hanged, leaving behind mystery over another 'victim'", The Straits Times, p. 25 .
  7. ^ Abdul Wahab bin Sulaiman v. Commandant, Tanglin Detention Barracks [1985–1986] S.L.R.(R.) [Singapore Law Review (Reissue)] 7, H.C. (Singapore); Ben Davidson (8 January 1985), "High Court has no power to review ruling: Military Court of Appeal a superior court, says judge", The Straits Times, p. 9 . For commentary on the decision, see Victor Leong Wai Meng; Roland Samosir (1986), "Forever Immune? Abdul Wahab b. Sulaiman v. Commandant, Tanglin Detention Barracks", Malaya Law Review, 28: 303–322 ; Wilson Wong Wie Sarn (1986), "Case Comment: Abdul Wahab Bin Sulaiman v Commandant, Tanglin Detention Barracks", Singapore Law Review, 7: 60–67 ; Edmund Kronenburg; Eric Lie; Cosmas Wong (1993), "Civil Jurisdiction in the Military Courts: An Unnecessary Overlap? An Evaluation of Section 112 of the Singapore Armed Forces Act", Singapore Law Review, 14: 320–350 .
  8. ^ New President for Military Court of Appeal, Ministry of Defence, 3 December 1997, archived from the original on 8 February 2016 ; Factsheet – The Military Court of Appeal, Ministry of Defence, 24 May 2005 .
  9. ^ Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (Cap. 206, 1985 Rev. Ed.; now Cap. 206, 2002 Rev. Ed.).
  10. ^ Re Dow Jones Publishing (Asia) Inc.'s Application [1988] SGHC 41, [1988] 1 S.L.R.(R.) 418, H.C. (Singapore); "Judge rejects challenge to Govt by AWSJ", The Straits Times, p. 1, 17 May 1988 .
  11. ^ Dow Jones Publishing Co. (Asia) Inc. v. Attorney-General [1989] SGCA 8, [1989] 1 S.L.R.(R.) 637; Bertha Henson (2 June 1989), "Court dismisses AWSJ appeal to quash Govt order: Journal also ordered to pay costs", The Straits Times, p. 1 .
  12. ^ "Paving the way for Asean law body talks", The Straits Times, p. 9, 9 May 1980 .
  13. ^ Commission [Gazette Notification No. S 1298/1986] (Cap. 48, N 34, 1990 Rev. Ed.).
  14. ^ Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Executive Interference in the Subordinate Courts [Cmd. 12 of 1986], Singapore: Printed for the Government of Singapore by the Singapore National Printers, 1986, OCLC 16872490 .
  15. ^ "Judiciary inquiry finds no interference by Govt", The Straits Times, p. 1, 20 July 1986 ; "No backing for claim of public disquiet", The Straits Times, p. 10, 20 July 1986 ; "Parliament in short: Summary of yesterday's sitting: Inquiry report accepted", The Straits Times, p. 8, 31 July 1986, Parliament has accepted Mr Justice T. S. Sinnathuray's report on the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of Executive interference in the Subordinate Judiciary. 
  16. ^ Suppiah s/o Pakrisamy (29 April 2008), Comment: Tun Salleh and the Judiciary, Malaysian Bar, retrieved 8 February 2016 .
  17. ^ a b c K. C. Vijayan (20 January 2016), "Retired Supreme Court judge dies of pneumonia at 85: Justice Sinnathuray lauded over significant contributions to Singapore's legal landscape", The Straits Times, p. B3 .
  18. ^ Singapore, UCL Alumni Network, archived from the original on 3 February 2009, retrieved 3 February 2009 .
  19. ^ Who are Our Directors?, Mavin International, archived from the original on 25 December 2013, retrieved 25 December 2013 .
  20. ^ "Those honoured this year", The Straits Times, p. 36, 9 August 1997 .
  21. ^ National Day Awards 2009, AsiaOne, 9 August 2009, retrieved 8 February 2016 ; "Here is a list of this year's National Day Awards winners", The Straits Times, p. 16, 9 August 2009 .