Chief justice warns those who make unfounded attacks against judiciary

Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria has issued a stern warning to the public that appropriate action will be taken against those who tarnish the image and dignity of the judiciary.

His warning came in the wake of criticisms levelled at the judiciary after the Federal Court last week upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal in finding Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim guilty of sodomy.  Malaysian Insider reports:

IMG_7704-lbArifin said the judiciary was open to criticism but will not tolerate unfounded allegation in the social media and at public forums.

“We view with seriousness such conduct and will not hesitate to act?'” he said in his speech during the elevation of four judges to superior courts at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya today.

Arifin said any baseless criticism against the bench would weaken the administration of justice and erode public confidence in the institution.

He said due to advancement in technology, many displayed their opinions and comments to what was happening around them in social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Arifin said their remarks had wide following although some were unjustified and could be questioned.

He said it was the responsibility of everyone to protect the image and dignity of the bench so that the administration of justice was unhindered.

“In this regard, I urge, especally the lawyers not to act in a way that they side step the rule of law to channel their dissatisfaction on court judgments,” he added.

He said the public must also be careful and responsible in their opinions and comments on social media because of the wide repercussions.

Arifin, who last week led a five-man panel to uphol the conviction of Anwar for sodomy was coy when asked if committal proceeding will be instituted against the opposition leader for attacking the judiciary.

“That one I do not know. It is a different matter,” Arifin told reporters after attending the elevation ceremony today of four judges to the superior courts.

Accordng to procedure, it is the judiciary that will have to begin proceedings since the incident happened in the court room.

He said he did not hear what Anwar uttered from the dock as he had suspended the proceeding.

“My approach is when what is uttered is not fair, I just adjourn the proceeding to calm the tense atmosphere. I did not bolt from the bench,” he added.

He said he had no personal grudge against anyone and that he wanted to do his duty with utmost sincerety.

Anwar’s outburst was witnessed by those in the packed court room before Arifin could decide on the sentence to be imposed.

Arifin, who delivered the 116-page judgment had earlier ruled that Anwar’ was guilty of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.

Anwar attacked the bench for “bowing to their political masters and becoming partners in crime in the murder of the judiciary”.

Anwar told the bench there was something amiss when the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement barely minutes after his conviction was upheld.

“In bowing to political masters they have disgraced themselves and have become partners in crime in the murder of the judiciary,” Anwar said, before Arifin asked lead defence counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to tell Anwar to stop.

But Sri Ram told Arifin that his client had the right to address the court, to which Arifin retorted, “yes, on the appeal but not to condemn the court”.

But the opposition leader continued attacking the judiciary, adding “you had the opportunity to right the wrong but you chose to remain on the dark side”.

At this juncture, Arifin and the rest of the bench members walked out.

Anwar continued to speak and shouted into the microphone: “I will again, for the third time, walk into prison but with my head held high.

“I will not be silent and will fight for freedom and justice and will never surrender,” Anwar said.

The bench convened later only to affirm the 5-year jail term imposed by the Court of Appeal last year. – February 16, 2015
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