Lawyer urges change in laws governing judges’ ethics

Justin Ong
lawyer Arun Kasi noted that within the framework, the Chief Justice, the president of the Court of Appeal and other such senior members of the judiciary were intricately involved in the resolution of disputes brought by judges. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Legislation concerning the conduct of the judiciary must be updated to address a judge’s claim of being sidelined by superiors over a dissenting ruling, said lawyer Arun Kasi.

The lawyer who previously backed the call for a royal inquiry on judicial misconduct said the existing Code of Ethics for the judiciary did not provide for complaints directly against the topmost layer of the judiciary.

He noted that within the framework, the Chief Justice, the president of the Court of Appeal and other such senior members of the judiciary were intricately involved in the resolution of disputes brought by judges.

However, he said Justice Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s claim of being penalised over his dissenting judgment in the case of M. Indira Gandhi has exposed shortcomings with this arrangement.

“Hence, a pressing need has arisen to amend the (Federal) Constitution, the Judges’ Code of Ethics 2009 and the Judges’ Ethics Committee Act 2009 to provide for a mechanism to effectively deal with a complaint against the topmost position.

“The relevant stakeholders should take this seriously and with urgency to consider the necessary amendments,” he said in a statement to Malay Mail.

The Malaysian Bar has called for a royal commission of inquiry to investigate Hamid Sultan’s claim that he was reprimanded by a superior and subsequently not assigned high-profile cases over his ruling in the Hindu mother’s interfaith custody battle.

He had dissented with two other appellate court judges who ruled that the matter should be decided by the Shariah courts; the Federal Court later ruled that the civil courts have a duty to resolve such matters notwithstanding the involvement of Shariah laws.

Following his allegation, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla also claimed to have heard of alleged interference at the Court of Appeal in 2016, which upheld a High Court ruling that found the later Karpal Singh guilty of sedition.

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