Lawyers start online petition for RCI on senior judge Hamid Sultan’s claim of judicial interference

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A petition urging the government to convene a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on suspended Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s allegations of interference with the judiciary has started online.

Hari Anggara

The petition on, said to have been started by a group of lawyers, had at the time of writing obtained 2,830 signatures out of the 5,000 pledges needed.

Titled “Justice For Justice”, the petition said the recent suspension of Hamid Sultan was a “cause of great concern” to society, and that the establishment of an RCI was imperative to maintain the stature of the judiciary system.

“We the undersigned call upon the Government to immediately establish a RCI to investigate into the very serious and damaging allegations disclosed by Justice Hamid Sultan.

“The establishment of the RCI is imperative for the dignity and independence of the Malaysian judiciary,” the petition starters wrote.

On February 4, the Judges’ Ethics Committee (JEC) chaired by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat suspended Hamid Sultan until August 27, 2021,

The decision was made following a closed-door inquiry at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya that was established to investigate two complaints against Hamid Sultan by another judge involving his judgment as the Court of Appeal judge in the Public Prosecutor’s case against Aluma Mark Chinonso & Anor.

The second complaint concerned an affidavit Hamid Sultan filed in support of an originating summons filed by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, who sought several declarations with respect to court decisions made in her late father Karpal Singh’s appeals.

Last week’s decision made Hamid Sultan the first judge to ever be suspended since Judges’ Ethics Committee Act 2010 came into effect.

The online petition noted that the previous Pakatan Harapan government had agreed to an RCI on Hamid Sultan’s claims from February 2019, but this never materialised.

“It has now come to light that the then prime minister decided to put the establishment of the RCI ‘on the back burner’ due to the unhappiness voiced by some past and present judges on the establishment of the RCI,” the petition alleged, referring to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“It has to be accepted that the affairs of the judiciary must be clear and transparent and any allegation of impropriety is a matter of public interest and cannot be dealt with or disposed of in private or in camera, like a private club

“Despite the call by numerous individuals and NGO’s, a RCI is yet to be established,” it read. – MMO