KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — The Judges’ Ethics Committee (JEC) today decided to suspend the Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer from today until August 27, 2021.
The decision was made in a closed-door inquiry proceedings at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya this afternoon which was chaired by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.
Other panel members are Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Federal Court Judge Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and two former Federal Court Judges Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar and Datuk Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.
The inquiry was held to investigate two complaints against Hamid Sultan by another judge involving his judgment as the Court of Appeal Judge in the Public Prosecutor’s case against Aluma Mark Chinonso & Anor, and the affidavit he affirmed in support of an originating summons filed by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, who sought several declarations with respect to court decisions made in her late father Karpal Singh’s appeals.
Hamid Sultan became the first judge to be suspended since the Judges’ Ethics Committee Act 2010 came into effect.
Lawyer Datuk Joy Wilson Appukuttan, who represented Hamid Sultan, informed about the decision when contacted by Bernama today.
“We have just received confirmation via a letter dated February 4 from the JEC Chairman that the JEC was satisfied that the complaints have been proven and Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan is suspended from office from today (February 4) until August 27, 2021.
I need to get instructions from Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan on the next cause of action,” he said.
It is understood, Hamid Sultan will retire in August.
Another lawyer representing Hamid Sultan, T. Gunaseelan, said the inquiry proceedings would continue without the presence of his client.
He said they had requested that today’s proceedings be postponed because Hamid Sultan was unwell and needed to isolate himself given the current Covid-19 pandemic situation.
“We also requested for an adjournment of the inquiry proceedings following the appeal to adjourn the proceedings to be heard tomorrow in the Court of Appeal.
“However, the application for adjournment of the proceedings was not allowed by the panel members involved and the proceedings continued,” he said, adding that he and two other Hamid Sultan’s lawyers, Appukuttan and Dinesh Nandrajog, later decided not to participate in the proceedings.
On February 2, High Court Judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya rejected Hamid Sultan’s application to adjourn the proceedings before the JEC pending his appeal being decided by the Court of Appeal after finding that he failed to show any special circumstances to allow the adjournment.
On January 21, Hamid Sultan failed in his application to challenge the JEC’s decision to hold a closed-door inquiry against him following a decision by Mariana to allow the objection by the Attorney General’s Chambers against Hamid Sultan’s application for leave for judicial review.
On October 20 last year, Hamid Sultan filed the application for leave for judicial review by naming the chairman of the JEC and the JEC as the first and second respondents respectively.
Hamid Sultan, was seeking a certiorari order to quash the respondents’ decision as stated in the first respondent’s letter dated September 28 and 29, 2020, regarding the closed-door inquiry proceedings, declaring the decision invalid and void and in violation of Articles 5 and 8 of the Federal Constitution.
Tengku Maimun is currently the JEC chairman.
Hamid Sultan, in a support affidavit filed with the judicial review, said the application was filed based on the decision of the first respondent to investigate two complaints raised against him by other judges.
He claimed that investigations into misconduct involving judges could not be conducted behind closed doors as it contradicted the principles of judicial independence. — Bernama