PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian judiciary has lodged a police report over allegations of judicial misconduct and interference made by a sitting judge, it announced on Friday (Feb 15).
In a 63-page affidavit submitted on Thursday, Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer claimed numerous incidences of alleged interference within the Malaysian judiciary, including in a sedition case involving late lawyer Karpal Singh and a case of the religious conversion of three Hindu children.
The affidavit was filed in support of an originating summons put in by Singh's daughter, lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo.
She had sued an unnamed "Chief Justice of Malaysia" on Jan 14, seeking a declaration that he had failed to perform his duties as head of the judiciary when he did not complete investigations relating to her late father's sedition appeal and the case of kindergarten teacher Indira Gandhi.
Gandhi had challenged the unilateral conversion to Islam of her three children by her ex-husband.
In a statement released by the office of the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court, the judiciary said that public calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the allegations would have to be decided by the government.
“The decision as to whether a commission of inquiry is necessary is a matter for the decision of the government,” it said, adding that it noted with concern the "grave" and "sweeping" allegations that "may have the effect of tarnishing the image of the judiciary as a whole".
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the government would study any proposal to establish a RCI, and that he was aware of the allegations by Hamid.
"Yes, I know something has been voiced by this man. I'm not in the position to comment on this because, you know, we don't really run down the judiciary openly but, of course, we have our private opinion.
"Any proposal made to the government will be studied by the government and, if necessary, we will (set up a RCI)," he said at a press conference.
IMPROVEMENTS AND REFORMS
"It is the continuing focus of the Judiciary to safeguard its integrity and ensure the proper functioning of the administration of justice," the judiciary's statement read.
The judiciary added that it was presently implementing "substantive improvements and reforms" in the administration of justice.
"It is to be noted that the Institutional Reform Committee has met with the judiciary and made recommendations that are currently being implemented as well."
Special officer to the Chief Justice Mohd Aizuddin Zolkeply said that an internal investigation was suspended in view of the ongoing police investigation.
“The internal inquiry was merely suspended and not discontinued to ensure that no prejudice is caused to the ongoing police investigation as well as the pending appeal,” he said in an affidavit-in-reply to Kaur's originating summons.
“Despite having been served with a copy of the filed court papers soon after the action was filed, the president of the Bar Council has also regrettably found it fit to remain silent on such a fundamental issue involving the integrity of the Malaysian judiciary. The Malaysian Bar must take a stand on this matter,” Kaur said.
She said the issues plaguing the independence of the Malaysian judiciary, which had long been wilfully ignored, were now public.
“Stakeholders, especially the PH government, must not renegade on their duty to address this crisis. The honour of the Malaysian judiciary is very much at stake,” she added.
Kaur also represents the family of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, who are seeking damages for psychological trauma caused by Altantuya's murder, said to be part of a corruption scandal involving a US$1.1 billion deal for the purchase of French submarines.