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Bill to deal with judges’ misconduct lauded

PETALING JAYA, 15 Dec 2008: The Judges’ Ethics Committee Bill that was tabled in Parliament for first reading today is a move in the right direction, according to the Malaysian Bar and a former judge.

The bill will pave the way for the setting up of a committee to deal with judges who breach any provision of the Judges’ Code of Ethics.

The committee, which will be headed by the Chief Justice, will comprise of odd number of members made up of the President of Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of Malaya, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, judge of Federal Court, Court of Appeal Judge or a High Court judge. The members will be appointed by the Chief Justice.

Bar president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said tabling the bill was a good move and it showed that the government was serious about judiciary reforms.

“The judges have a Code of Ethics that set out certain requirements but there has never been a mechanism to enforce it.

“But this bill will provide for a mechanism to deal with less serious misconduct instead of the appointment of a tribunal,” Ambiga told The Nut Graph.

Former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Shaikh Daud Shaikh Mohd Ismail, when contacted, also supported the move to table the bill, but added that it should also encompass misconduct of judges in chambers and not only in open court.

He said he had heard many complaints about judges who behaved like hooligans but there was no platform to lodge the complaints.

He added that the dignity of the court would not be respected if nothing is done against such judges.

“There have been complaints especially by women lawyers about judges uttering words that should not be said.

“This committee is definitely a good idea,” he said in a phone interview.

Shaikh Daud added that however the committee could have been set up under the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Act, which was tabled on 10 Dec.

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