CJ says onus for special court on interfaith disputes with Putrajaya

Arifin was commenting on Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s dissenting judgment in the case of M. Indira Gandhi. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng
Arifin was commenting on Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s dissenting judgment in the case of M. Indira Gandhi. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — The executive is the authority that must decide whether to enact a special hybrid court to settle disputes involving Muslims and non-Muslims, Chief Justice of Malaysia Tun Arifin Zakaria said today.

Arifin said the judiciary should not venture into this matter or even make such proposals, as it falls under the functions of the executive as the elected branch of government.

“To start with, it is not for Hamid Sultan or any judge for that matter, including the CJ, to make that kind of proposal. It’s an issue of policy. It’s to be decided by the executive,” he told reporters here after the ceremonial opening of the legal year.

He was commenting on Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s dissenting judgment in the case of M. Indira Gandhi, where the latter said the Chief Justice could set up a hybrid court within the civil courts system to resolve Shariah matters in disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Arifin noted that the Federal Constitution clearly stated that there should be a separation of powers between the different branches of government, further pointing out that judges are not elected officials.

“I always advocate the idea that not only should the judiciary expect the executive to respect our independence, but we should also not interfere with what the executive intends.

“The legislature and executive are elected people by the citizens of the country. Who are we? We are appointed, we are just appointees, so we have to go within the law so to speak,” he said.

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