MACC’s probe against SRC trial judge may open floodgates to frivolous accusations against judiciary, warns Suhakam

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Suhakam pointed out that there are already existing procedures in the Federal Constitution for the Judiciary to handle allegations of wrongdoing by judges, and supported the use of such procedures instead of an MACC investigation. ― Bernama pic
Suhakam pointed out that there are already existing procedures in the Federal Constitution for the Judiciary to handle allegations of wrongdoing by judges, and supported the use of such procedures instead of an MACC investigation. ― Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should stop any plans to proceed with investigations against judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, as it could lead to a dangerous opening of floodgates of frivolous claims against the judiciary, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today.

Suhakam pointed out that there are already existing procedures in the Federal Constitution for the Judiciary to handle allegations of wrongdoing by judges, and supported the use of such procedures instead of an MACC investigation.

In a statement tonight, Suhakam said it is “deeply distressed and concerned” over news reports of MACC’s commencing of an investigation against Nazlan, saying that such an investigation is “unconstitutional and unprecedented by MACC” as the Federal Constitution already provides for the handling of allegations of wrongdoing by judges.

Suhakam noted that the Federal Constitution’s Article 125(3A) provides that the chief justice can refer a judge’s alleged breach of Code of Ethics to the Judges’ Ethics Committee, if the chief justice is of the opinion that the breach does not warrant the judge to be referred to a tribunal for removal from office.

These provisions apply to superior court judges, or judges at the High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court level.

Nazlan was the High Court judge who had heard former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over the misappropriation of RM42 million of government-owned SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds, and is now a Court of Appeal judge.

“Suhakam subscribes to and supports the principle of separation of powers to ensure the integrity and independence of the judiciary is protected and to avoid any interference and political pressure against any member of the judiciary at any time.

“Suhakam questions the motive of MACC in launching the investigation and is of the view that MACC’s proposed investigation will set a negative and dangerous precedent that may undermine the judiciary as an institution and as one of the pillars of a democratic government.

“This may also open the floodgate to frivolous and vexatious charges and abuse of process by enforcement agencies against the judiciary,” Suhakam said in its statement tonight.

Suhakam stressed the need for judges to be given the space to make decisions free from any interference.

“Suhakam supports the view that all judges must have the proper space to discharge their judicial duties in a manner apparent to all, and that the judicial process and decision is independent, free of any interference, considered, reasoned and honest.

“Above all that, it is vital for justice not only to be seen to be done but must be done according to the law.

“Accordingly, Suhakam calls upon the MACC to stop all investigations against Nazlan, immediately,” Suhakam said.

The MACC recently said it had opened investigation papers as a report was officially lodged.

This came after blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin published blog posts against Nazlan.

Nazlan had recently lodged a police report which stated that Raja Petra’s April 20 blog post contained “false, baseless and malicious” allegations intended to interfere with the justice system and judiciary.

The recent online attacks against Nazlan as the SRC trial judge had started appearing more than one and a half years after his July 2020 verdict that found Najib guilty, or in other words just about three months after the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision on December 8 last year.

The Federal Court is now the final court where Najib can pursue his appeal against his SRC conviction and jail sentence and RM210 million fine, after the Court of Appeal rejected his bid to overturn the guilty verdict and sentencing.

Najib filed his appeal on December 8 last year to the Federal Court, or on the same day he failed in his appeal at the Court of Appeal.

Najib reportedly plans to bring in a Queen’s Counsel from the UK to represent him in the SRC appeal. Queen’s Counsel is a term typically referring to leading senior lawyers in the UK who handle more complex cases.

The hearing date for Najib’s appeal against his SRC conviction at the Federal Court has not been fixed yet, as it is still in the preliminary stages.

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