Dewan Rakyat approves three Bills linked to courts

A general view of Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
A general view of Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Three Bills involving the courts were in focus yesterday with the participations of more than 20 Members of Parliament, the majority of whom are legal practitioners.

The amendments to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 and the Subordinate Courts Rules Act 1955 were passed with the support of the majority of votes.

However, the average Opposition representative suggested the amendments be scrutinised before being approved as there were some things that the government needed to go over such as the aspects of technology, financial allocation and assurance over the security system to be adopted.

The debate began with amendments to the Courts of Judicature (Amendment) Act Bill 2020 which involved court proceedings conducted through live video or television networks or any other medium of electronic communication.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, when winding up the debate on the Bill, said the method was an alternative that would allow the parties involved in the proceedings to choose whether the case proceedings were conducted online or physically. 

He said currently the operation was only applicable for civil case proceedings.

"This matter is not mandatory, the details of the case that will be heard online will be conducted via the practice direction to be made by the Judiciary, the Chief Justice or the Office of the Chief Justice.

"Currently, online hearings are for civil cases only and a meeting was held between the Judiciary and the Bar Council on June 18 before the bill was brought to Parliament," he said.

Detailing the matter, Takiyuddin stressed that the amendment to the act was planned before the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the debate on the Subordinate Court (Amendment) Bill 2020, RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) raised the issue of implications to trial witnesses, the ability of the lower court to conduct trial using technology following the absence of needed equipment besides the problem of large number of trial cases every day.

"We are worried that without the physical presence of witnesses in court, for example they are in a special house or room, witnesses may tend to give untrue statements," he said.

 In the debate on the Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Rules Bill 2020, Hassan Abdul Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang) raised concerns on the possibility of "separation of power" if the amendment of Subsection 3 (2) to replace the membership of the senior judge of the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with the membership of the Federal Court Chief Registrar in the Subordinate Court Rules Committee, was approved.

However, Takiyuddin in his winding up said the replacement was apt since the post of Chief Registrar of the Federal Court was of the status of Head of Department in the Office of the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia (PKPMP) and is the highest Legal Officer’s post in PKPMP. — Bernama

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