KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Bar maintained its stand on prohibiting ex-judges from appearing as counsel in court, as was stated in its March 15 resolution.
Its president Christopher Leong in a statement said, notwithstanding the concerns of the Bar on this issue, which were articulated in court, the Federal Court had ruled that there is nothing presently in law that prohibited a retired judge from appearing as counsel in court.
“The Bar also notes the recent issues or controversies involving the propriety or otherwise of the appointment and appearance of the lead prosecutor in the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim appeal.
“Again, the Federal Court has decided that there is nothing improper in this regard,” he said.
He added: “Although for different reasons, a common issue and concern of the the Bar relating to both the appointments and appearances of the lead prosecutor for the prosecution and the lead counsel (a retired judge) for Anwar in the appeal is that justice might not be done, or might not be perceived to be done.”
However, Leong said the Bar will not make further comments as the hearing of the appeal was still ongoing in the Federal Court.
On March 15, the Malaysian Bar passed a resolution that a retired judge of the superior courts should be prohibited or restricted by law from appearing as counsel in court.
Yesterday, the lead prosecutor in Anwar’s appeal, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters that nobody could stop ex-judges from practising as lawyers and it was their choice to do so.
On July 3, 2013, Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria had said that retired judges are free to appear in court as counsel representing their clients, and no matter who appeared in court, the bench would decide a case based on its merits.
He said the judiciary could not prevent ex-judges from practising and should not deprive them of their right to do so.
The controversy arose after retired Federal Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram appeared as counsel for Anwar in the latter’s appeal against the Appeals Court decision in convicting him on a sodomy charge.
Sri Ram is one of the laywers in the defence team of Anwar who has appealed to the Federal Court to overturn the Appeals Court decision which had found Anwar, who is also Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor and Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh, guilty of sodomising Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, his former aide, at a condominium unit in Bukit Damasara here on June 26, 2008.
The prosecution had appealed to the Appeals Court after the High Court acquitted Anwar on the sodomy charge after the defence’s case.
Sodomy is a criminal case.
The apex court started hearing Anwar’s appeal on Tuesday. – BERNAMA