RCI on alleged judiciary abuse will start soon, says PM

Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has shot down a suggestion to set up a tribunal instead of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to look into a claim by a senior serving judge of abuse and interference in the judiciary.

Mahathir said there are many different opinions but generally the public wants an RCI.

“And we are responsive to public ideas and stand,” he told reporters at his Raya open house at Seri Perdana here.

The prime minister was responding to a recent suggestion by former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram to carry out an internal inquiry to try the judges concerned.

If the findings were affirmative, he said the chief justice could propose to the prime minister, under Article 125 of the Federal Constitution, that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong establish a tribunal to try the judges concerned, Gopal had said.

Gopal said this would give the affected judges a second opportunity to defend themselves.

Asked if the RCI should be established, Mahathir said: “Regardless what I believe, what is important is that the people want it.

“I am entitled to my own opinion but I have to respond to public views,” he said, adding that the RCI on the judiciary would start soon.

Previously, Cabinet had agreed to form a RCI over the allegations of judicial misconduct.

On Feb 14, Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer had filed a 65-page affidavit in court, in support of an application by the late Karpal Singh’s daughter, Sangeet Singh Deo, to declare that the chief justice had failed to defend the integrity of the judiciary in two cases.

Hamid claimed that the scam was carried out by nominees of politicians getting into contracts with the government.

Once the government pulled out of a deal, the private parties would take the government to court to claim compensation.

Hamid alleged that these private parties had created these contracts with the government to defraud public funds, and that the apex court was perceived to be sympathetic to them.