Bar says it again: Set up RCI over judges’ misconduct

Bar Council president George Varughese says the Bar has taken a firm and unwavering stand in demanding the independence of the judiciary. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has once again urged Putrajaya to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) over allegations of judicial misconduct as outlined in an affidavit authored by a senior judge.

Its president George Varughese said the urgency for an RCI was greater than ever in light of the inconclusive findings of the judiciary’s internal investigations into allegations by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer.

“The Bar has all along taken a consistently firm and unwavering stand in demanding that the independence of the judiciary be fervently safeguarded.

“The proper administration of justice can only rest upon a judiciary whose independence is absolute and unimpeachable, and upon individual judges whose integrity and impartiality are faultless and unassailable,” he said in a statement.

Varughese said the Bar also noted that the Chief Registrar’s Office of the Federal Court of Malaysia had made a police report over the grave allegations made in the affidavit against unnamed judges and the judiciary.

“It is therefore imperative for the judiciary to give its fullest support for the establishment of the RCI,” he said.

The Bar’s response comes three days after the explosive 65-page affidavit affirmed by Hamid in support of lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo’s legal action for the failure of Chief Justice Richard Malanjum to complete investigations into two cases of judicial interference.

Varughese said that over the past few days, Malaysians have been rocked by media reports of shocking new allegations by Hamid that there were judges who had colluded with individuals to defraud the government.

He said Lawyers for Liberty had also revealed it had collected a range of evidence of interference with subordinate court judges in politically sensitive matters.

“All these severe allegations of a total collapse of integrity on the part of certain judges are eroding public confidence in the judiciary immensely and perhaps irreparably,” he said.

Varughese also said the assertion that the Bar had remained silent on Hamid’s allegations was “unfounded”.

He said that on Aug 20, the Bar had called for the setting up of an RCI soon after Hamid’s initial revelation at a law conference that he had been severely reprimanded by a “top judge” for his dissenting judgment in the Indira Gandhi unilateral conversion case.

“We called for the immediate setting up of an RCI to investigate these serious assertions of judicial misconduct and recommend holistic reforms to improve and strengthen the judiciary,” he said.

Varughese said the Bar repeated its call for an RCI in November and last month at the Opening of the Legal Year of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak event in Kota Kinabalu.

He said this in reaction to Sangeet’s outburst on Friday that the Bar had not taken a position in the matter.

Varughese said the Bar Council was considering the proper role to play in the upcoming legal proceedings initiated by Sangeet.

“We will never be silent in the face of any unethical or unlawful practices toward or by members of the judiciary,” he said.

Sangeet had filed an action last month against the chief justice, seeking a declaration that he had failed in his duty to preserve and protect the integrity of the judiciary.

This followed allegations of interference in the sedition appeal of the late Karpal Singh, who is Sangeet’s father, and Hamid’s public outburst at the law conference.