CJ condemns attempts to intimidate judiciary independence

09 Jan 2023 02:12pm
Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat - Photo: BERNAMA
Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat - Photo: BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA - It was very mischievous for anyone to try to tarnish the image of the courts and bring it into disrepute through unfair, biased and oftentimes unenlightened criticism simply because they happen to not like particular decisions, said Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

She said constructive criticism is always welcomed, but not attempts to undermine the judiciary’s independence.

"Last year, attempts to intimidate or otherwise exert improper pressure on judges presiding over public interest cases are becoming more obvious. These attempts are a direct affront to the rule of law and judicial independence.

"They certainly deserve condemnation and indeed many have spoken out against them in strong terms. Last year, the judiciary was the target of scurrilous attacks during the hearing of certain high-profile cases,” she said in her speech at the opening of the Legal Year 2023 here, today.

On the criminal justice system, Tengku Maimun stressed that criminal liability will continue to be determined in accordance with the applicable law and the strength of the evidence presented before the court.

"Those who are proven guilty will be convicted and those not so proven will be acquitted. Convicted accused persons will be meted with punishments that their crimes deserve, no more and no less. This is our job as judges and we are determined to discharge our duty without regard to any threats that are made to deter us from it.

"The point I am trying to make here, as I have on many occasions before, is that judicial independence will not be compromised so long as cases are decided without fear or favour, without ill-will or motive, without any external or internal pressure and without regard to personalities," she said.

Tengku Maimun said as long as every judge remains committed to these principles, and united in applying these maxims, she is confident that judicial independence will be upheld.

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The chief justice also reiterated that judges should make decisions and write judgments premised on the law and not on the notion of wanting to seek popularity.

"We write to keep the public abreast of the judicial function and not to seek validation from the public or from any other quarters.

"If a judge decides a case premised on anything other than the law or facts, then he makes a decision that is not sound in law. And in which case, the judge fails to uphold judicial independence and the rule of law," she said.

Tengku Maimun also urged members of the public to read judgments in their entirety before forming an opinion and subjecting the judiciary to any form of vilification.

On the composition of the members of the Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2009, she said it was crucial to judicial independence that the process of judicial appointments should remain apolitical and free from any form of interference and influence. - BERNAMA

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