Published: Thursday November 1, 2012 MYT 11:39:00 PM
Updated: Thursday November 1, 2012 MYT 11:40:18 PM
Chief Justice concerned over recurrence of postponed cases
PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria has expressed concern over the postponement of hearing of court cases which had recurred of late.
He stressed that being involved in other court cases, being on leave or attending a seminar should not be the reason for counsel to justify the postponement of hearing of a case.
Therefore, Arifin reminded judges and judicial officers to comply with the Chief Justice Directive 2008, which restricts postponement of hearing of court cases.
He said the courts should return to the practice of hearing cases until completion, without long postponements like before where hearings in the High Courts were conducted with the assistance of the jury.
Arifin said although Article 5 (3) of the Federal Constitution "guarantees that an accused person is entitled to be represented by counsel of his choice, it is with a condition that the counsel is able to be present in person to handle the case at the fixed time".
"I wish to remind counsel to adhere to Rule 6 of the Rules of the Legal Profession Act (Practice and Modesty) 1978, which clearly and firmly requires counsel not to accept a case unless he is reasonably confident that he can be present and represent his client on the fixed date," Arifin said in his speech at the swearing-in of four newly appointed judicial commissioners.
Arifin also reminded that Rule 24 of the same Act had provided that a lawyer should make every effort to be prepared for the trial at the fixed time and should not apply for an adjournment unless for a valid reason.
"In the event that a case is adjourned for a decision, the judge has to comply with the directive that any decision has to be delivered within a period of not more than four weeks, while the grounds of judgment have to be given within eight weeks from the date of filing of the appeal," he said.
The top man in the judiciary also reminded judges to be honest and courageous in making a decision in a court case based on the rule of law although the verdict was not preferred by the other party.
"Remember, the duties and role of the judiciary are not to seek popularity, but to uphold the rule of law in dispensing justice," he said.
Arifin said the dignity and integrity of the judiciary would be safeguarded if the decisions of judges were based on legal principles and the rule of law.
During the swearing-in, Arifin also announced that the Office of Chief Registrar of the Federal Court had received official approval to increase the number of judicial officer posts, which would also see promotions among judicial officers.
"With the approved additional posts, the competency of the judges, magistrates and registrars of the suborninate courts would be enhanced by having more experienced and trained officers," he said.
Their appointments were effective today.
Before the appointments, Hashim served as chief registrar of the Federal Court, while Kamaludin was head of the Appellate and Trials Division of the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC).
Azizah was head of the AGC's Legal Division and Wong had served as director-general of the Judicial and Legal Training Institute under the Prime Minister's Department.
When met by reporters, the Chief Justice declined to comment on the postponement of hearing of the appeal by two former commandos from the Special Action Unit who were found guilty by the High Court of murdering Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006.
The hearing of the appeal brought by Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 34, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 39, had been fixed for yesterday and today but it was postponed. - Bernama