LETTER | Sangeet Kau Deo, the daughter of Karpal Singh, on Monday filed an action against the chief justice (CJ) for failing in his duties, among others, to defend the judiciary, particularly in connection with his suspending investigations into the interference allegations publicly made in respect of Karpal's sedition case and of Indira Gandhi's conversion case.
Since the onset of the new Pakatan Harapan government, numerous revelations have been made of various alleged interferences in the judiciary that have seriously affected the public perception of the judiciary.
These include those made by Anwar Ibrahim when he claimed miscarriage of justice as a ground for royal pardon to him. Hishamudin Yunus (a retired Court of Appeal judge) indicated in a public speech serious doubts as to the independence and integrity of judiciary in the conduct of sodomy cases of Anwar.
Mohd Haniff Khatri, a lawyer, gave a press statement that he was aware of interference in Karpal's sedition appeal affecting its outcome. Justice Hamid Sultan, a sitting judge of the Court of Appeal, said in an international law conference that he was severely reprimanded by a top judge for delivering his dissenting judgment in favour of Indira Gandhi and that thereafter he was not assigned to hear public interest cases.
The seriousness of these allegations and the need to reinstate public confidence in the judiciary were endorsed by the Bar Council when it asked, twice, for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to be held. Yet, neither RCI was formed nor did CJ advise, as far as public knows, an RCI to be formed.
The CJ promised to investigate the allegations, but said after a few weeks that he had suspended or terminated the investigation for certain stated reasons.
Following that, now Sangeet has instituted an action against the CJ for the failure of public duty. With all these, it cannot be denied that Malaysia is undergoing a judicial crisis now and the perceived public confidence in the judiciary has become questionable.
A first and foremost objective of the Bar Council, under Section 42 of the Legal Profession Act 1976, is to uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour. Lawyers are the most immediate stakeholders of the judiciary in the sense that they are the ones appearing directly before the judiciary.
Given the above, the Bar Council will be duty bound now to take a stand on and intervene into the action of Sangeet and the lawyers will expect the Bar Council to do the same for upholding the cause of justice and public confidence in it, a central component for the sustainable success of any nation.
ARUN KASI is a member of the Malaysian Bar.
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