Hamid Sultan gets interim stay over Judges’ Ethics Committee’s inquiry against him

Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer attends the International Malaysia Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur in this file picture taken on August 16, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer attends the International Malaysia Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur in this file picture taken on August 16, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — The High Court here today allowed the Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s application for an interim stay of the Judges’ Ethics Committee’s (JEC) inquiry proceedings against him, which was scheduled on November 25.

Judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya in her decision said that the status quo must be maintained until the hearing of Hamid Sultan’s application for leave for a judicial review that challenges the JEC’s decision to hold the investigative proceedings against him (Hamid Sultan) in-camera.

“To avoid any injustice, it is the opinion of the court that the status quo shall be maintained temporarily until the hearing of the leave application. The court allows the interim stay until the date of the hearing of leave only, which has been fixed for December 21 at 10am,” she said in her ruling via email.

Hamid Sultan, 65, filed the application for leave for judicial review to challenge the decision of the JEC to hold the investigative proceedings against him in-camera.

Hamid Sultan’s counsel Datuk Joy Wilson Appukuttan, when contacted by reporters, said that Justice Mariana made the decision during proceedings held via email communication which also involved Senior Federal Counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambali, who acted for chairman of the JEC and the JEC.

Appukuttan said during the online proceedings the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) had opposed to the interim stay application.

He also said the application for leave for judicial review was supposed to be heard today but, due to the extension of the conditional movement control order (CMCO), the hearing was postponed to December 21.

The lawyer said the copy of the application and related cause paper had been served to the AGC on November 6 and the chambers in its reply dated November 9, opposed the application.

He added that the interim stay of the JEC inquiry was filed after his client received a letter dated November 6 from the Chairman of the JEC stated that the JEC inquiry against Dr Hamid Sultan will be convened on November 25 at 3pm.

“We have through our letter dated November 10 to the Chairman of the JEC inter alia requested confirmation whether the inquiry will be adjourned in light of the extended CMCO, but we have not got a reply as yet,” he said.

On October 20, Hamid Sultan, as the applicant filed the application for leave of a judicial review through Messrs KH Lim & Co in the High Court here, naming the chairman of the JEC and the JEC as the first and second respondents, respectively.

He is seeking a certiorari order to quash the decision of the respondents stated in the first respondent’s letter dated September 28 and September 29, as well to declare the decision as invalid and void, in violation of Articles 5 and 8 of the Federal Constitution.

He is also seeking a declaration that the composition of the seven members of the committee to listen to and deliberate the complaints made against him as violating legal procedures and regulations.

The judge also sought a declaration that the first respondent, as the chairman of the committee, was not eligible to hear or deliberate the complaints raised in the first respondent’s notice dated Aug 10. Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat is the chairman of the JEC at present.

Hamid Sultan through his affidavit of support filed with the judicial review said the application was made to protest the decision of the JEC not to allow his request for the proceedings to be heard in an open forum.

He said the application was filed based on the decision of the first respondent to investigate two complaints that had been raised against him by other judges involving his judgment as the Court of Appeal Judge in the Public Prosecutor’s case against Aluma Mark Chinonso & Anor, and the affidavit he affirmed in support of an originating summons filed by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, who sought several declarations with respect to court decisions made in her late father Karpal Singh’s appeals.

According to Hamid Sultan, investigations into misconduct involving judges cannot be conducted in camera.

“This is contrary to the principles of judicial independence, especially when I stated that I do not want proceedings against me to be conducted in private, and have instead opted for an open hearing. I was also placed in a very embarrassing position and was ridiculed not only by my fellow learned judges but also by the general public,” he said in his affidavit. — Bernama

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