PUTRAJAYA: The uneasiness which crops up when passing the death sentence on victims of circumstance has prompted Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali to make amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
The Attorney-General said the idea to amend the Act had come from him.
"I had briefed the Cabinet much earlier (on this). This is from my own experience as a High Court judge as well as the Court of Appeal and Federal Court judge.
"(Even) the judges have been telling me that they are finding it difficult to pass a death sentence when they feel that the accused does not really deserve such sentence.
"But, currently they have no other choice because it is mandatory. So I have suggested to the government to make it more flexible, that is, the discretion of the judges (to make such decision)," he said after presenting contributions to the families of victims who perished in a fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Centre last September.
The AG Chambers has collected RM32,500 in the past one month for the families.
Apandi said the amendments was being drafted to give such discretion to the judges and also to identify who deserved the capital punishment or otherwise.
"If you read in the news there are instances of drug mules. They are merely innocent carriers. They are just carriers for money who don't really know what they are carrying.
"Perhaps this may come into the category of those who will not be given the dealth penalty," he added.
However, he said agents of provocateur or the actual drug traffickers deserved the death penalty.
"I think the judges are quite happy (with the decision to amend the said Act).
"And I, as a former judge, had felt rather uneasy in passing sentence, that we know the accused is just a drug mule and not a real trafficker," said Apandi.
On when the amended law could be implemented, he said it depended on when the bill could be tabled in Parliament.
"I think, it is very soon."
In a parliamentary written reply, Law Minister Azalina Othman Said was reported as saying the AG’s Chambers had sought feedback from the Home Ministry, Health Ministry, Chemistry Department, the police and the Customs Department on the matter.
"The Attorney-General's Chambers had completed the first draft of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (Amendment) Bill. The cabinet was informed of this on July 28.
"The bill will be presented to cabinet for consideration and approval before it is tabled in Parliament soon," said Azalina.