PETALING JAYA: A son of Karpal Singh has called for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to probe an allegation of judicial interference in the late senior lawyer’s appeal against his sedition conviction in the Court of Appeal.
Ramkarpal Singh, the DAP MP for Bukit Gelugor, said a RCI was needed to establish the truth of the allegation.
“Anything less will never dispel the perception that the judiciary is seriously tainted,” he said in a statement today.
The allegation was made last week by lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla who reportedly said the Court of Appeal had initially, by a majority, decided the appeal in favour of Karpal.
However, he said, due to the interference of a senior judge, that majority was reversed with the result that Karpal’s appeal against his sedition conviction was eventually dismissed.
The identity of the senior judge has not been revealed, neither has that of the judge on the Court of Appeal panel who allegedly was pressured to reverse his or her decision.
Karpal was convicted by the High Court for uttering seditious words regarding the Perak royalty in the 2009 Perak constitution crisis.
In 2016, the Court of Appeal, in a majority decision, upheld the conviction, ruling that it was a serious offence involving the sovereignty of a Ruler and his prerogative powers. Karpal died in a car accident in 2014.
Ramkarpal said the allegation was “most serious” as it affects the very core and integrity of the judiciary.
“It speaks volumes in that, if found to be true, it shows that the judiciary is far from independent and (is) subservient to a few.
“It also points to a serious decay in the judiciary which cannot be allowed to continue at all costs, particularly in light of the new government’s promise of institutional reforms in the country, of which, the judiciary must surely rank the highest.”
Ramkarpal said he was shocked that, to date, there has been no response from the judiciary by way of an official statement denying, condemning or at least promising an investigation into Haniff’s allegation.
He also pointed out that none of the three judges who sat on the panel in the appeal has publicly denied such interference or lodged a police report although the allegation was made nearly 10 days ago.
“With respect, any attempt by the judiciary or the said judges to do so now would certainly be construed as an obvious afterthought and would not be worth the paper on which it is written on.
“I note that Haniff has given his statement to the police but has declined to reveal the identity of the said senior judge or his source of information.
“It can hardly be surprising that Haniff chose not to reveal the same as public confidence in the police today is at such a low (point) that the possibility of a cover-up on its part certainly cannot be dismissed, particularly when senior judges are allegedly involved.
“The net effect of the above is that there is very likely some truth behind Haniff’s allegation.”
Ramkarpal said Karpal’s conviction will never be free from suspicion and doubt as a result of this “disgusting episode”, regardless of how the courts decide on it in the future.
He said the senior judge implicated in this allegation, if found to be true, must be severely disciplined and publicly shamed for tarnishing the very institution he or she was entrusted to protect, regardless of whether he or she is still in service.
He called the alleged interference the “most cowardly and shameful of acts” which was done even after Karpal’s death.
“If the Pakatan Harapan government is serious in its efforts in institutional reforms, it must set up an RCI on the matter now.
“Anything less will certainly cast serious doubts as to the new government’s sincerity in this regard,” he said.