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No disruption to ongoing court cases despite RCI

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All cases in the superior and subordinate courts will continue despite the cabinet's decision to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the judiciary, said attorney-general Tommy Thomas (photo, above).

He explained that the establishment of an RCI did not mean an automatic or blanket postponement of all cases.

Thomas said this in a statement issued today which he said was to clarify the position of the RCI and its effect on all proceedings pending before the Malaysian courts.

"Whilst the RCI is conducting its inquiry, cases before all the courts will proceed as usual. All cases at all levels of our superior and subordinate courts would continue to be heard and determined by them.

"Any request for any postponement of any case must be made by a party to the relevant court (and) made in the ordinary way. It would be a normal exercise of judicial function for a judge to decide whether any postponement should be refused or granted," the statement read.

Malaysiakini reported yesterday that the cabinet has agreed to establish the RCI, quoting high-level government sources. This was confirmed by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad this morning.

The RCI was formed to probe any possible judicial misconduct following several troubling allegations recently made by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer. 

Palace of Justice, Putrajaya

Thomas in his statement said that this was not the first such claim against the judicial arm of the government in the country's history.

In 1988, a tribunal was set up under Article 125 of the Federal Constitution to inquire into allegations of judicial misconduct against six Supreme Court judges.

"In 2007, a royal commission of inquiry into the VK Lingam video clip was established to investigate into an allegation of intervention in the judicial appointment process by some Malaysian judges.

"In all these precedents, the ordinary business in all the courts proceeded as usual and no adjournment was entertained by the courts. Litigants are entitled to have their cases heard and determined in courts," he said.

He reminded judges and lawyers that they owe a duty to ensure that the administration of justice was not interrupted.

"To suggest that court proceedings and the administration of justice should be put on hold pending the completion of the inquiry by the RCI is without any factual or legal basis," he said.

He further hoped that following the establishment of the RCI, public speculation on the issue would cease.

"The RCI must be permitted to discharge its important duties in a calm and measured way," the AG said.

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