Malaysian Bar: When were we ever silent on claims of judicial interference?

Varughese (pic) pointed out that the Malaysian Bar had repeatedly called for the establishment of an Royal Commission of Inquiry into Hamid's claims of judicial interference as far back as August 20 last year. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Varughese (pic) pointed out that the Malaysian Bar had repeatedly called for the establishment of an Royal Commission of Inquiry into Hamid's claims of judicial interference as far back as August 20 last year. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 ― The Malaysian Bar has denied lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo's assertion that it had remained silent on the allegations of judicial interference that were made by Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer.

In a statement, Bar president George Varughese pointed out that the Malaysian Bar had repeatedly called for the establishment of an Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Hamid's claims of judicial interference as far back as August 20 last year.

“We categorically refute her unfounded assertion that the Malaysian Bar has remained silent on the allegations of judicial interference that were made by Justice Datuk Dr Haji Hamid Sultan bin Abu Backer (“Justice Hamid Sultan”), a judge of the Court of Appeal,” he said in a statement.

Varughese said that on August 20 last year, soon after Hamid revealed that he had been “severely reprimanded” by a “top judge” for his dissenting judgment in the Indira Gandhi case at the Court of Appeal and that he was subsequently not assigned to hear cases relating to the Federal Constitution and public interest matters, the Malaysian Bar responded by calling for the RCI into the matter.

On November 29, he said the Malaysian Bar repeated its call for an RCI without delay, and reiterated this again on January 18 this year during the Opening of the Legal Year 2019 of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in Kota Kinabalu.                                                                   

“The Malaysian Bar has all along taken a consistently firm and unwavering stand in demanding that the independence of the Judiciary be fervently safeguarded.  The proper administration of justice can only rest upon a Judiciary whose independence is absolute and unimpeachable, and upon individual judges whose integrity and impartiality are faultless and unassailable.  As the saying goes, even one rotten apple will spoil the entire barrel,” Varughese added.

In an explosive allegation, Hamid had in a sworn affidavit claimed a judge he named as “ARLC” had interfered in a majority decision in the proceeding to acquit the late DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh of his charge under the Sedition Act, leading Karpal’s sedition conviction to be upheld by the Court of Appeal.

His affidavit also claimed that a chief justice interfered with the promotion of some judges and those who made decisions contrary to his instructions had their career progression blocked.

Hamid’s affidavit was filed in support of lawyer Sangeet’s application to declare a chief justice’s failure in defending the integrity of the judiciary in two cases.

Varughese said the Bar Council is currently considering the proper role for the Malaysian Bar to play in Sangeet's application.

“We will, without any doubt, continue to speak up over any compromise — including allegations thereof — within the institution of the Judiciary, without fear or favour.  We will never be silent in the face of any unethical or unlawful practices toward or by members of the Judiciary,” he said.

The judiciary has filed a police complaint to look into Hamid’s allegations of judicial interference and corruption.