The boy was caught using his Apple iPhone 7 during school hours on 8 March.
As a result the boy was asked to lim kopi with the school principal on 21 March.
His handphone was then confiscated and he was returned his SIM card together with a receipt stating that the phone would be returned in 3 months as per the school’s disciplinary policy on use of handphones during school time.
Later that same evening, the boy’s father wrote to the principal saying that the iPhone 7 belonged to him and demanded its return.
As he didn’t get a reply, he then took the school to court, claiming that retaining the phone amounts to the tort of conversion – which involves denying a person’s rights to his property.
The parent asked the court to get the school to return the phone while the case is being decided.
However, instead of bending backward, the ACS principal engaged a lawyer to contest the application, claiming that it was “frivolous and vexatious”.
The principal’s lawyer also pointed out that the principal is responsible for overseeing student discipline based on regulations.
District Judge Tan heard the application on 28 April.
He rejected the father’s contention, claiming that the principal was simply following the school rules.
He added that since daddy knew about the rules on phone use, he could have “enrolled his son in another school” if he had an issue with them.
District Judge Tan said that having the phone returned early would defeat the school’s disciplinary regulations on phone use.
“I accept that there may be a risk that until the matter is fully and finally disposed of, the school may be faced with demands from parents or guardians for the return of confiscated phones. This may also send a wrong signal to the students that they can use their mobile phones during school hours with impunity, thus rendering the Phone Rule otiose, however temporarily this might be so.”