Interfaith group backs RCI on judicial misconduct

Reena Raj
Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer attends the International Malaysia Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur August 16, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — A royal inquiry is needed on Justice Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s claim that he was sidelined for his judgment in the appeal of a Hindu mother’s custody battle, said a multi-faith group today.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) supported the calls by former judges and the Malaysian Bar to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) immediately to investigate the allegations.

“Failure to do so may unfairly cast aspersions on other judges who had performed their duties diligently and with integrity. The RCI may also allay public fear that there may be other such cases of judicial misconduct,” it stated.

The council said the independence of the judiciary was sacrosanct, adding that this requires judges to be able to act without fear or favour based on the facts before them and the law applicable.

“Any reprimanding of a judge by a superior judge such that appears to have happened in this case, for writing a dissenting judgement will amount to serious attempt at judicial misconduct,” it added.

The council stated that it is a duty of chief justice to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

The council stated that the RCI must investigate, among others, the allegations by Hamid and recommend reforms to improve and strengthen judicial independence and integrity.

Recently, during the Malaysian Bar’s International Malaysia Law Conference 2018, Hamid revealed that he was shunned and not assigned cases over his dissenting judgment in the case of M. Indira Gandhi.

In the 2015 judgement, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel ruled 2-1 that the civil courts had no jurisdiction over the conversion of Indira’s children to Islam, which it said was solely the purview of the Shariah courts.

Hamid was the minority dissenter.

The case has since been decided in Indira’s favour by the Federal Court.

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