United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Datuk Param Cumaraswamy is right when he expressed
surprise and being disturbed by the claim of the Chief Justice, Tun Mohamed
Dzaiddin Abdullah telling the Bar Council to “refrain from treading in
matters” which were his prerogative in response to the
Bar Council’s stand on the public dispute between High Court judge Justice
Datuk R. K. Nathan and Court of Appeal judge Justice Datuk Gopal Sri Ram.
said that the right to an independent court and judge is the right of the
citizens and the judiciary as no absolute claim to privilege over it.
the modern era of democracy, accountability and good governance, the Chief
Justice’s claim to prerogative is
an anachronism and the judiciary must individually and collectively be held
accountable for their actions to the general citizenry.
independence is not the private right of judges but the foundation of judicial
impartiality and a constitutional right of all Malaysians.
rule of law and the independence of the judiciary depend primarily upon public
confidence. .Lapses and
questionable conduct by judges tend to erode that confidence and the judges
individually and the judiciary collectively cannot be immune from public
accountability for acts of omission or commission in failing to exhibit and
promote high standards of judicial conduct.
can disagree with the Bar Council’s prescription of the solution to any matter
which undermines public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the
judiciary, but he should not resort to the anachronistic claim of prerogative to
shut out the fundamental right of
the citizenry, including the Bar Council, to the constitutional right to
independence of the judiciary when it is under threat or erosion – whether by acts of individual
judges or the Executive.
High Court judges have been elevated to the Court of Appeal on Tuesday to fill
the full quorum of 15 Court of Appeal judges.
It is a matter of grave
concern that the appointments have overlooked an important unwritten rule that all
appointments should reflect the plural Malaysian society as much as possible –
which is not the case at present as there is only one Malaysian Chinese out of
15 Court of Appeal judges. It
should be a top national priority to rectify this serious defect in the higher
echelons of the judiciary.