Judges have no role when AG decides to withdraw criminal charges, says CJ

The four top judicial administrators, including Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat (seated, second from left) with the elevated Federal Court and Court of Appeal judges.

PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat today reminded the public that courts have no control over criminal cases when the public prosecutor chooses to withdraw charges against accused persons.

The top judge said a clarification was apt as there was confusion on the roles of the judiciary and the public prosecutor, who is also the attorney-general, in the administration of the criminal justice system.

She said in criminal cases, the public prosecutor represents the state.

“In our justice system, Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution states that the attorney-general shall have discretionary powers to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence,” Tengku Maimun said after witnessing the elevation ceremony of three Federal Court and eight Court of Appeal judges and the appointment of 11 judicial commissioners this evening.

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

Her speech was in an apparent reference to the public outcry when the Sessions Court on May 14 granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal to Hollywood producer Riza Aziz for alleged money laundering amounting to US$248 million (RM1.058 billion).

However, ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram told the court this would be subject to the accused fulfilling his side of the bargain.

On June 9, the High Court acquitted former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman after the prosecution dropped 46 corruption and money laundering charges

Tengku Maimun said there were many cases, which included the latest Court of Appeal ruling in PP -v- Chin Chee Kow, on the AG’s discretionary powers.

“In short, the courts cannot compel the public prosecutor to institute criminal proceedings which he does not wish to institute.”

She said this did not mean judges were dishonest and were conspiring with certain parties or were involved in corruption just because third parties were dissatisfied with the public prosecutor’s decision.

“It is disappointing and ‘extremely disturbing’ of late that the judiciary is being criticised incessantly just because the public prosecutor has exercised his power to withdraw several high-profile cases.”

She said unfounded allegations towards judges would erode public confidence in the judiciary which was entrusted to adjudicate disputes fairly and based on law.

“Lack of confidence in the judiciary is a loss to all as the courts of law are the last bastion of justice for ordinary citizens.”

Also present at the ceremony were de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hasan and Attorney-General Idrus Harun.

Judges Mary Lim Thiam Suan, Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and Rhodzariah Bujang were elevated to the apex court while Mohd Sofian Abd Razak, Supang Lian, Lee Heng Cheong, Ahmad Nasfy Yasin, Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali, M Gunalan, Nordin Hassan and Darryl Goon Siew Chye were promoted to the Court of Appeal.

Zaleha Rose Pandin, Azhar Abdul Hamid, Arik Sanusi Yeop Johari, Amirudin Abd Rahman, Mahazan Mat Taib, Bhupindar Singh, Alice Loke Yee Ching, Ahmad Murad Abdul Aziz, Liza Chan Sow Keng, Wan Muhammad Amin Wan Yahya and Alexander Siew How Wai were appointed judicial commissioners.

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