Law expert moots parliamentary committee to probe judicial interference claims

Loghun Kumaran
Abdul Aziz said allegations of judicial interference must be examined thoroughly. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

IPOH, Aug 24 — A constitutional law expert has urged the Dewan Rakyat to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate allegations of interference in the judiciary.

Abdul Aziz Bari, who is also a Perak executive councillor, said allegations of judicial interference, like those recently made about the late Karpal Singh’s sedition case, must be examined thoroughly.

“It is up to the present government to put up a parliamentary committee to investigate this, because it is very serious. It cannot just be dismissed,” he told Malay Mail here recently.

“A special committee needs to look into this and table the results in a white paper in Parliament.” 

Abdul Aziz suggested that the committee could consist of MPs, former judges, academics and members of the Malaysian Bar.

He also floated the idea of investigating the issue outside Parliament, in the form of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI).

“We need to do this. The clean-up needs to be as wide as possible,” he said. 

Aziz’s suggestion comes after lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla claimed that the outcome of Karpal’s sedition appeal in 2016 was altered when a senior judge allegedly interfered in the case. The Court of Appeal had upheld Karpal’s sedition conviction, but reduced his fine.

News portal Free Malaysia Today reported on Wednesday that Mohamed Haniff did not reveal the identity of the judge. However, he reportedly claimed that the alleged interference meant that the DAP icon could not clear his name even after his death.

Karpal, who died in a road accident in 2014, had been charged with sedition for saying the removal of Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as mentri besar by the late Perak Sultan, Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah, and the appointment of Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir in his place, could be questioned in court.

Separately, Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer also claimed that he was “severely reprimanded” by a “top judge” for his dissenting judgment in the M. Indira Gandhi unilateral conversion case. 

Abdul Aziz said it was possible that judges could have been pressured under the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) regime, whose influence he said was too strong.

Setting up a parliamentary committee to investigate, he argued, would only enhance the credibility of the country’s judiciary in both local and foreign eyes. 

“This isn’t about digging up the past. It’s about exorcising ghosts, and this is the time to do it,” he asserted.

Asked if digging through such allegations would open up a potential can of worms regarding the reputation of judges, Abdul Aziz said this was the price that needed to be paid.

He stressed that justice was needed, even if it meant questioning judges and the cases they had heard before.

“Why not? If we don’t do that, then there will be a tendency to sweep things under the carpet,” he said.

“That is the price we have to pay. We’re not even talking about punishing as being exposed is bad enough.”

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