PETALING JAYA: An internal investigation into alleged judicial interference in Karpal Singh’s sedition case can still proceed with a judge who has no conflict of interest, lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo said today.
She said that the allegation, which was made known to the public by fellow lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla, was made more than a year ago but there was still no resolution.
Senior judge in the Court of Appeal, Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, had also filed an affidavit to support Sangeet’s civil action against then sitting chief justice Richard Malanjum for failing to defend and preserve the integrity of the judiciary.
Hamid had alleged there was interference in Karpal’s sedition appeal in 2016 as well as in M Indira Gandhi’s case on her children’s unilateral conversion to Islam.
“I’ve read the explanation given by the chief justice as to her inability to investigate the allegations of interference in my father’s sedition appeal due to her position of conflict.
“The same reason was offered in relation to the inability of the then Court of Appeal president Ahmad Maarop to investigate.
“While I can understand their conflict of interest, that by no means is an acceptable explanation as to why the inquiry cannot be and has not been undertaken by another judge up till now,” she said.
Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat had earlier today told the media that she could not carry out the internal probe on alleged judicial interference due to a conflict of interest. She said this was because she had previously heard and decided the late DAP chairman’s sedition appeal in 2016.
Ahmad sat on another panel which had ordered Karpal to enter his defence on the charge of allegedly making seditious remarks against the late Sultan Azlan Shah. He retired in November last year.
Tengku Maimun said the internal investigation launched during the time of her predecessor, Richard Malanjum, was also suspended when the police began investigating the matter. She did not know the progress of the case now.
Sangeet said that since Rohana Yusuf had taken over from Ahmad as the Court of Appeal president last month, there should be no more delay in starting the internal investigation.
“The police inquiry has nothing to do with an internal inquiry undertaken by the judiciary. It cannot be used as a reason to call off internal investigations,” she said.
Sangeet also questioned the delay in forming a royal commission of inquiry to probe judicial interference. The government had announced this in February last year.
“This is a serious matter which cannot be so easily swept under the carpet. What exactly are we waiting for?” she asked.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier announced that the government had agreed to look into the allegations made by Hamid.
Haniff had previously questioned if Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had done his work in advising the government and drafted the terms of reference for setting up the RCI, after the AG said he was “not involved”.