PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat urged individuals to lodge reports with the relevant authorities if they have information on alleged misconduct by judges.
At a ceremony here today to mark her appointment, Tengku Maimun said this would enable the authorities to begin investigations into the allegations.
“They can also write to me, the Court of Appeal president or the chief judge of Malaya or chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak for us to do the needful.
“It is a disservice to the judiciary if one were to continue to make allegations on social media without resorting to proper channels for the allegations to be addressed,” she said.
Tengku Maimun did not make mention any names during her address at the Palace of Justice.
Previously, Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer had claimed, through his affidavit filed to support senior lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo’s lawsuit against the then chief justice, that there had been interference by the judiciary in several high profile cases, including the sedition trial involving Sangeet’s late father and DAP chairman Karpal Singh.
In a lawsuit, Sangeet had sought a declaration that former chief justice Richard Malanjum had failed in his duty to complete investigations into two widely publicised cases of judicial interference.
The government also said it was setting up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to look into the alleged misconduct.
Tengku Maimun said that by tradition, judges do not normally respond to criticisms and allegations.
“We speak through our judgments.
“This tradition was intended to preserve impartiality and respect for the courts.
“It also prevents a judge from getting into public debates with unhappy litigants,” she said.
However, she advised the public to be careful when making unfounded criticisms against the judiciary.
“It must be recognised that unfounded and baseless criticism against the judiciary will erode the confidence of the public in this important institution,” she said.
She said appropriate action had been taken, and will continue to be taken, against those who tarnish the integrity of the judiciary.
Last month, lawyer Arun Kasi was jailed for one month and fined RM30,000 for writing two articles critical of a court judgment.
Tengku Maimun, the first woman to head the judiciary, said the independence of the judiciary comes to the fore when judges have to deal with high profile cases that generate media interest.
She listed cases involving senior politicians, people accused of shocking murders, conversion of minors to Islam, and challenges against government policies as among those that fell into the category of high profile cases.
“In the 24-hour media age in which we live, it stands to reason that the judges hearing these cases will be under intense scrutiny.
“However, as judges, we are not answerable to anyone except for our conscience and our learning as well as evidence before the court,” she said.
Before finishing her 15-minute address, Tengku Maimun recited a verse from the Quran and was heard to be sobbing.
She said she will stand firm on discharging her duties as a judge.
Tengku Maimun was named as chief justice on May 2 after her appointment was consented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
She replaced Malanjum as Malaysia’s 16th chief justice.