I refer to the recent decision of Ipoh High Court judge VT Singham who acquitted six men accused of murder as the investigations were 'questionable and the clumsiest ever'. Justice VT Singham was right in his decision. A judge has to decide on the evidence presented in court.
Suspicion, gossip and rumours are no substitute for proof. A judge cannot be expected to make clay out of straw or be an alchemist to make gold out of iron. For a system to function, the trinity of police, prosecution and lawyers have to play their role.
The deputy public prosecutor has the direction from the police and investigation. Unfortunately, many regard their job as a regular eight to four, five days a week job. But it is not unknown for defence lawyers to work round the clock foregoing their holidays and sleep to prepare a case. I know of lawyers who have worked for 36 hours without rest.
A judge is constantly open to criticism as long as it is honest and no improper or corrupt motive is attributed to him. As Lord Atkin said in 1936: 'The path of criticism is a public way: the wrong headed are permitted to err therein, provided that members of the public abstain from imputing improper motives to those taking part in the administration of justice, and are genuinely exercising a right of criticism, and are not acting in malice or attempting to impair the administration of justice, they are immune. Justice is not a cloistered virtue: she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men'.
Or Lord Denning in 1900: 'It is the right of every man, in Parliament or out of it, in the press or over the broadcast, to make fair comment, even outspoken comment, on matters of public interest. Those who comment can deal faithfully with all that is done in a court of justice. They can say we are mistaken, and our decisions erroneous, whether they are subject to appeal or not. All we would ask is that those who criticise us will remember that, from the nature of our office, we cannot reply to their criticisms'.
He further added that the conduct of the judge must speak for itself. Salmon LJ, stated the position more succinctly: 'It follows that no criticism, however vigorous, can amount to contempt of court, providing it keeps within the limits of reasonable courtesy and good faith'.
What is necessary is to revamp our investigation and prosecution process. For that end, I suggest that firstly, the Attorney-General's Chambers be open 24 hours, on three eight-hour shifts and manned by DPPs, legal officers and support staff; and secondly, that the police investigating officers as well as DPPs be paid well.
Instead of engaging in the blame game, it is better to learn lessons from criticisms then rectify and improve.