GEORGE TOWN: A lawyer today spoke against the move to measure a judge’s performance by the number of cases disposed monthly, saying it is against the spirit of justice and only worsens the backlog of cases instead of clearing them.
RSN Rayer, who is also Jelutong MP, claimed judges had openly said they were forced to dispose of cases quickly as part of the key performance index (KPI) imposed by Putrajaya.
He said this quick disposal method had led to a rise in discharges not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) cases.
He said these DNAA cases were futile as they usually ended up with the immediate rearrest of a suspect who was then charged in court again, thus contributing to the backlog of cases.
“In open court, judicial officers have compelled lawyers to go on with their cases by indicating that ‘their bosses’ in Putrajaya ‘were breathing down their necks’, asking them to complete the cases before them and report back to Putrajaya.
“They are also told to submit reports about the number of cases they have disposed of for the particular month.
“This KPI is imposed on judges, judicial commissioners, sessions court judges and magistrates. This particular KPI must stop immediately,” Rayer told FMT.
He said the trend had likely begun after Chief Justice Raus Sharif imposed a strict no-adjournment policy other than in “death or near death” cases.
Rayer said the new KPI among judges had led to hardship among lawyers, as judges refused to postpone cases even for valid reasons.
“Life has been made very difficult for criminal lawyers in Malaysia because there are only a handful of them handling crime-related cases.
“The judicial officers have no choice but to adhere to strict instructions and directives of their bosses not to postpone cases and to complete a certain number of cases in a month.
“Defence lawyers, on the other hand, have other cases to attend to in their diary. Looks like lawyers, too, must be dead or nearing death to have their cases postponed.”
He said he hoped the naming of new top judges would see reforms, including in this matter.
Raus and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin have announced they will be resigning on July 31.
Rayer said the solution to the courts’ backlog problem was to appoint more judicial commissioners.
“When we have more judicial officers hearing and disposing of cases, then there will be no hurrying of cases. Justice hurried is akin to burying the whole notion of justice.”