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Subramaniam v. Public Prosecutor

Citation. 100 Solicitor’s Journal 566.
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Appellant, Subramanium (the “Appellant”), appealed a sentence of death for being in possession of twenty rounds of ammunition without lawful authority.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

“Evidence of a statement made to a witness by a person who was not himself called as a witness might or might not be hearsay. It was hearsay and inadmissible when the object of the evidence was to establish the truth of what was contained in the statement. It was not hearsay and was admissible when it was proposed to establish by the evidence, not the truth of the statement, but the fact that it was not made.”


The Appellant appealed a judgment and order of the High Court of Johore Bahru. The Appellant was found guilty of possessing twenty rounds of ammunition without lawful authority in violation of 4(1)(b) of the Emergency Regulations, 1951. The Appellant was sentenced of death. The Appellant was wounded and found by certain members of a security force. The ammunition was found in a leather pouch. The Appellant argued that he had been captured by terrorists and at all material times was acting under duress. Also, that at the time of his capture by the security forces, the Appellant had formed the intention to surrender. The Appellant sought to introduce evidence describing his capture and what the terrorists said to him, but the trial court said that the proffered evidence was not admissible unless the terrorists would be called as witnesses. The judge said he could find no evidence of duress and the Appellant was convicted.


Were the alleged statements made to the terrorists’ hearsay, or should have they been admissible?


They should have been admissible. The court observed that “[s]tatements could have been to the appellant by the terrorists which, whether true or not, if they had been believed by the appellant, might, within the meaning of

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