Terror suspect Ramanjit ‘Romi’ Singh complains human rights are violated in Hong Kong jail because he can’t trim beard as leader Carrie Lam agrees to India extradition request
Lawyer considers seeking judicial review after magistrate questions whether personal grooming is a matter for the court or Correctional Services Department
A Hong Kong resident facing extradition for his alleged links to terrorism and a prison break in India complained to the court on Thursday that he was not allowed to trim his beard while in custody, and that he might seek a judicial review over the “human rights violation”.
But the magistrate in Eastern Court immediately asked counsel for Ramanjit Singh, also known as Romi, if this was indeed an issue requiring the court’s attention or if her client should lodge a complaint with the Correctional Services Department.
“Is it a matter for the court?” Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen asked Singh’s lawyer Elizabeth Herbert.
She retorted: “It’s going to be a matter for judicial review.”
But Herbert later clarified with the Post that she would only apply for a review “if necessary”, without elaborating.
The complaint came after a government counsel revealed Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had agreed to Singh’s extradition, taking the case to its next stage for committal.
Singh, 29, has been remanded in custody since February, initially in connection with a heist involving more than 450 million Japanese yen (US$4.04 million).
Prosecutors dropped the case against him in June, and last month failed to prove another one of handling HK$3 million worth of stolen goods in the city.
But Singh had remained in custody since the Indian government served a provisional warrant for his arrest in June. It made a formal request for his surrender last month.
Lam signed the authority to proceed with the extradition on September 11.
Singh will challenge the extradition.
The Post revealed in February that Singh was an alleged fugitive on an international wanted list for the allegations Indian authorities had made against him.
These included aiding and abetting others to escape jail custody and conspiring to assist escape from jail. He is also accused of possessing a firearm and funding potential terrorist activities.
His court appearances in Hong Kong have sparked intense security measures after the allegations abroad surfaced, with a fleet of heavily armed police vehicles escorting him from prison custody each time.
On Thursday, Singh returned to court for the first time since all prosecutions in the city against him were dropped, wearing a thick beard and a bright pink shirt.
Herbert said: “He wished and he asked to groom himself before court, but he was not allowed to trim his beard.”
She argued the treatment went against Article 6 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, which stipulates: “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”
The Post understands Singh earlier made a similar complaint at Kowloon City Court.
The case will return to court on October 25, to allow Singh’s legal team go through more than 1,000 pages of documents, consult legal advice and possibly engage a senior counsel to contest the extradition.
The Correctional Services Department declined to comment on individual cases. But a spokesman said a remanded person could ask for a haircut or a shave under the regulations, as long as the grooming did not alter his or her appearance.