PETALING JAYA: An affidavit filed by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer about misconduct in the judiciary has gone viral and is causing waves in the legal fraternity.
The 65-page affidavit has been filed in support of lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo’s court application seeking a declaration that Chief Justice Richard Malanjum had failed in his duty to complete investigations into two widely publicised cases of judicial interference.
In the affidavit sighted by FMT, Hamid said it was made at the request of Sangeet and that he had done so in accordance with the oath of office he had taken to uphold the Federal Constitution.
Malanjum had earlier filed an affidavit in response to Sangeet’s suit.
Hamid is known for speaking his mind. At an international law conference in Kuala Lumpur last year, Hamid had said he was chided by a top judge, in the presence of other judges, for delivering a dissenting judgment in the Indira Gandhi unilateral conversion case.
Lawyer T Gunaseelan, when contacted, said ordinarily judges would refrain from filing such an affidavit but the peculiar circumstances prevailing warranted Hamid doing so.
Gunaseelan, who has read the document, said: “The present scenario is not so different from the situation in India where three sitting Supreme Court judges called for a press conference and divulged certain activities within the judiciary.”
The three judges had last year revealed how cases were assigned to judges in the Indian judiciary.
Gunaseelan said the filing of the affidavit, which he described as unprecedented, raised the question of whether it was proper for a sitting judge to affirm such a document.
“Irrespective of the merit of the contents, what are the consequences?” he asked.
Gunaseelan said it looked as if Hamid had no option but to affirm the affidavit although he could have done better by expressly naming the judges concerned in the document.
The senior lawyer said the revelation would seriously dent the reputation of, and confidence in, the judiciary.
“The issues raised by Hamid will be dealt with by a High Court judge (when Sangeet’s case comes up) but a Royal Commission of Inquiry will be more appropriate,” he said.
Gunaseelan said it would be interesting now that two judges had filed conflicting affidavits. This means that lawyers in the case can apply to the court to cross-examine Hamid and Malanjum.
Sangeet had filed a police report after lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla revealed that there was interference in the late Karpal Singh’s sedition appeal in the Court of Appeal.
Sangeet, who is Karpal’s daughter, said that as an interested party, she was adversely affected and entitled to all information and findings conducted by the judiciary.
She wants a declaration that the chief justice had failed in his duty to preserve and protect the integrity of the judiciary as a result of his Nov 26, 2018, media statement.
In that statement, Malanjum had said the judiciary had to suspend investigations into the allegations of judicial interference in Karpal’s sedition appeal because of an ongoing police investigation and the pending appeal before the Federal Court.
He had said the probe into Karpal’s matter could also not be carried out as the three Court of Appeal judges were still serving.
Regarding the second case, that involving Hamid’s revelation last year, Malanjum had said the investigation could not be carried out for alleged misconduct as the judge in question had retired.