Govt approves formation of RCI on judiciary

Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer filed an explosive 65-page affidavit outlining the alleged misconduct by unidentified judges. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet has agreed to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on the state of the Malaysian judiciary, sources told FMT.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to reveal more information about the investigative body soon, a source said.

“The Cabinet today gave the green light to the formation of an RCI on the judicial arm of the government.

“The attorney-general (AG) will be asked to draft the terms of reference and recommend the composition of the RCI,” the source told FMT.

On Feb 14, Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer filed an explosive 65-page affidavit outlining the alleged misconduct by unidentified judges.

The document was 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.

Since then, the Malaysian Bar, Sabah Law Society, Advocates Association of Sarawak, National Patriots Association, Reform Caucus for Parliament, Lawyers for Liberty and Bersih 2.0 have also made similar calls.

Even Hamid had insisted on the RCI in his affidavit.

A day after the affidavit had gone viral, Mahathir said the government would study the calls for an RCI.

In the affidavit, Hamid said the demand for an RCI was made on Sangeet’s request, and that he had done so in accordance with the oath of office he had taken to uphold the Federal Constitution.

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.

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.

On Nov 26, 2018, Malanjum, in a statement, said the judiciary had to suspend investigations into the allegations of judicial interference in Karpal’s sedition appeal because of an ongoing police probe 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.

On Hamid’s revelation last year, Malanjum had said the probe into the alleged misconduct of the judge in question couldn’t be carried out because he had already retired.