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Published: Monday November 19, 2012 MYT 6:46:00 PM

Chief Justice calls for more independence for judiciary

KUALA LUMPUR: The Chief Justice has called on a greater degree of independence for the judiciary, saying it is critical to the rule of law.

“An independent judiciary will only be illusory, if not a mere mockery, if there is no clear separation between the three main organs of the Government, namely the executive, the legislature and the judiciary,” said Tun Arifin Zakaria.

He said that the judiciary must not only be independent but must be seen to be independent, as public perception was essential because it reflected the measure of confidence the public has in the judiciary.

Giving a lecture on “Rule of Law and the Judiciary System” at the Malaysian Institute of Integrity here Monday, Arifin said judicial independence must occur at both levels: at the individual judges level and at the institutional level.

He said under the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Act, the Prime Minister must uphold the judiciary's independence, among others to have regard to its need to have the support necessary to enable them to exercise their functions.

“Therefore, it is incumbent for the Prime Minister to defend the independence of the judiciary. This is not to say it wasn't so in the past, because it has always been the constitutional duty of the Prime Minister,” said Arifin.

Arifin also disclosed that 220 judicial review applications were filed in the Kuala Lumpur court this year as of October, while 190 Habeas Corpus applications (for wrongful detention) were registered in High Courts throughout country as of September.

He added that in light of the repeal several laws including the Internal Security Act 1960 and the Emergency Ordinance 1969, the number of applications for Habeas Corpus was expected to increase.

Former Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan agreed that there must be public confidence in the judiciary UiTM Emeritus Professor of law Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, who was also a speaker at the lecture, said judges played a critical role in safeguarding human rights and controlling executive discretion.

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