Ethics complaint against judge not under MACC, says ex-bar council chief

06 Apr 2023 10:06pm
Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

SHAH ALAM - Ethics complaint against Superior Court judges in Malaysia are issues for the Judicial Ethics Committee to probe and resolve and not for any enforcement agencies to probe and resolve, said former Bar Council president Salim Bashir Bhaskaran

Salim said it was crucial to be aware of the boundaries established by law in order for each investigative agency to carry out their functions assigned according to a specific act.

"We have to be conscious of the parameters drawn by law for each investigative body to perform their roles entrusted by a specific act."

"MACC are empowered to conduct investigations on any offence under the Act or prescribed offences defined under Section 3 of the MACC Act," he told Sinar Daily.

This comes after Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali was found to have violated the Judges' Code of Ethics due to a conflict of interest while leading the SRC International case involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said this was based on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations.

When the limits are expanded to include disciplinary matters, Salim said it raises issues of legitimacy.

He explained that any reference against superior court judges is simply a complaint to the Chief Justice, and it remains an accusation until the Chief Justice and the Judicial Ethics Committee deliberate on it.

"In Justice Nazlan's case, his lordship's conflicts have been exonerated earlier through judgements.

The Judges Code of Ethics 2009, outlines the procedure under Chapter 4 for dealing with complaints, which includes the chief justice's prerogative to dismiss for not having any merit or further reference to the Committee.

"As far as the cases are concerned, the Federal Court has reached a considered majority view by tooth-combing and conceptualising all issues raised and has made its final decisions to dismiss the review applications."

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Azalina confirmed Nazlan had violated the code and had a conflict of interest through a letter dated March 20 to Shafee & Co., according to a report in FMT.

Azalina said it was based on the graft agency's findings on Feb 20, which were extended to her by the agency.

She was replying to a letter from Najib's lawyer dated March 15 and asking whether the MACC wrote to Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat to recommend disciplinary proceedings be initiated against Nazlan over the handling of the SRC case, according to the report.