Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer is said to have sent an “explosive” response to a show-cause notice for affirming an affidavit that senior judges had intervened in the decisions of numerous appeals, including the late Karpal Singh’s sedition case.
Sources said it is believed the senior judge, who is scheduled to retire next year, stood by the entire content of the affidavit and also a 101-page judgment he delivered in early June.
“I would say the content in reply to the show cause is quite explosive,” a source told FMT but declined to elaborate.
Hamid’s lawyer, Joy Wilson Appukuttan, said the 100-page reply was sent to Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, the chairman of the Judges’ Ethics Committee, on Tuesday.
“We also want an open hearing so that the public can have access to the proceeding as the matter raised is of national interest.” he said.
Wilson said Hamid’s reply should also be served on the Malaysian Bar and the Human Rights Commission because they were also interested parties in the administration of justice.
Apart from the affidavit, Hamid was asked to give an explanation in respect to the judgment he delivered in a criminal appeal involving Nigerians Aluma Mark Chinoso and Anyim Daniel Ikechukwu.
Hamid, who led a three-member bench, remarked, among others, that the judiciary is expected to act as check and balance on the executive and legislature as provided for under the Federal Constitution.
A former lawyer who became a High Court judge in 2009, Hamid said the court should ensure the constitution was not amended against the interest of the public and the fundamental liberty provisions were not made illusory by way of legislation.
This is the first time a show-cause notice has been issued to a judge since a code of ethics was drawn up in 2009.
Those who violate the code could be given a warning or suspension, or the chief justice could propose to the prime minister that the king set up a tribunal to remove the judge.
On Aug 16, 2018, Hamid said at an international law conference that he was reprimanded by a top judge for delivering a dissenting judgment in the widely followed unilateral conversion case of M Indira Gandhi in 2016.
He had upheld the High Court ruling in Indira’s case while the majority (of two) set aside the decision.
The Federal Court unanimously decided for the mother that such conversion is unconstitutional without the permission of the non-Muslim spouse.
Hamid reportedly told lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla that there was interference in the outcome of Karpal’s sedition appeal, alleging judicial interference by a senior judge.
However, he did not reveal the identity of the judges in both cases.
In January last year, Karpal’s daughter, Sangeet Kaur Deo, filed a suit against the office of the chief justice for failure to defend and preserve the integrity of the judiciary.
At that time, the top judge was Richard Malanjum, and Tengku Maimun was appointed to the position on May 2 last year.
A month later, Hamid affirmed the affidavit alleging that senior judges had intervened in the decisions of numerous appeals, including Karpal’s sedition appeal.
In October last year, High Court judge Mohd Firuz Jaffril threw out the suit, saying it was academic as the Federal Court had acquitted Karpal of the charge in May 2018.
Firuz also allowed the chief justice’s application to remove almost all the contents of Hamid’s affidavit in support of Sangeet’s suit.
The judge said the affidavit was scandalous, vexatious and frivolous and that some of the averments in the document were hearsay. – FMT