CJ’s office probes alleged meddling by senior judges in court decisions

Chief Justice Richard Malanjum.

PETALING JAYA: An internal investigation is under way following reports of alleged interferences by senior judges in two high-profile cases, the Chief Justice’s Office said.

“Appropriate action will be taken by (the) Chief Justice (Richard Malanjum) after the investigation is completed,” it said in a statement.

On Aug 16, Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer told an international law conference that he was “severely reprimanded” by a “top judge” for his dissenting judgment in the M Indira Gandhi unilateral conversion case.

Hamid said he was subsequently not assigned or empanelled to hear cases relating to the Federal Constitution and public interest matters.

Judges Balia Yusof Wahi and Badariah Sahamid, who were in the majority, set aside the 2013 High Court ruling which quashed the conversion certificates of Indira’s three children.

However, a five-member Federal Court bench early this year affirmed Hamid’s decision to revoke the conversion certificate of Indira’s minor children.

Justice Zainun Ali, who delivered the judgment, said a spouse who embraced Islam could not convert children without the consent of the non-converting partner in a civil marriage.

In the other case, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla was quoted by FMT as saying on Aug 21 that he was informed a senior judge had reportedly meddled in the majority decision to allow Karpal Singh’s appeal and acquit him of a sedition charge.

“The panel was asked to reverse the ruling,” the lawyer, who usually appears for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in civil cases, had said in a Facebook post.

Haniff did not reveal the identity of the judge but claimed that due to his interference, Karpal, who was a politician and senior member of the legislature, could not clear his name even after his death.

Karpal’s daughter Sangeet Kaur lodged a police report on Aug 23 over Haniff’s allegation.

Karpal was charged with saying the removal of Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar by the late Perak Sultan, Sultan Azlan Shah, in 2009, and the appointment of Zambry Abdul Kadir in his place, could be questioned in court.

On Feb 21, 2014, the High Court found Karpal guilty but he died in a road accident two months later.

On May 30, 2016, his conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The majority, consisting of justices Mohtarudin Baki and Kamardin Hashim, however, allowed the late Karpal’s appeal on his RM4,000 fine, reducing it to RM1,800.

Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, however, ruled in favour of Karpal to set aside the conviction.

Karpal’s widow Gurmeet, who is acting for his estate, is appealing the conviction in the Federal Court.

Police yesterday recorded a statement from Haniff but the lawyer said he declined to reveal the source of his information.

The Malaysian Bar, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikkhism and Taoism, and several lawyers have called for the setting up of a royal commission of inquiry on the alleged interferences as they were tantamount to judicial misconduct.