PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria has called on lawyers and the public to stop corrupting the judges and court officials.
He reaffirmed the judiciary’s commitment to uphold its independence, saying it would continue to strengthen itself as an institution against any attempt to undermine its independence.
This would be done through training and closer supervision of members of the judiciary, he added.
“I wish to call upon members of the Bar Council and the public to restrain from corrupting the judges and officers in order to gain favours from them.
“For, in any corruption, there is a giver and a receiver. You all can stop it at your end,” Arifin said at the opening of the Legal Year 2013 on Saturday.
He said the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Bar Council and the judiciary shared a common dream, in that the judiciary become a world-class judiciary and the prevalent cooperation among the three institutions was a positive step towards that direction.
The chief justice also announced the judiciary had done pretty well last year.
For this year, the institution would embark on new initiatives to further enhance its performance and work quality, he said.
Arifin said a specialised construction court would be set up in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam soon to hear construction disputes as demand for construction projects would continue to rise.
“Construction cases are unique as they involved technical issues, multiple parties and varying terms of payment.
“Thus, a specialised construction court would be beneficial to the industry. By having specialised judges, it will help in the speedy disposal of such cases,” he noted.
He said, to enable the Bar and AG to improve their case presentation in complex cases, an electronic presentation system facility would be used to assist them.
On the disposal of cases, Arifin said the overall disposal of court cases in the Federal Court last year had increased by 175 cases, compared to the year before.
He said the Federal Court succeeded in clearing a total of 759 out of 1,375 pending appeals and leave applications, adding that as at Dec 31, last year, there was still a balance of 616 cases pending.
“As for appeal proper (in civil cases) in 2012, the court disposed off a total of 66 appeals out of 209 pending appeals.
“For criminal appeals, the Federal Court disposed 169 criminal appeals out of 476 cases pending in 2012, leaving a balance of 307 cases as at Dec 31, last year.”
For the Court of Appeal, 7,834 appeals were disposed off, as against 5,086 appeals registered, he said, adding that the percentage of disposal against registration was 154 per cent which was an increase of 10 per cent from 2011.
“As at Dec 31, 2012, there are only 5,553 appeals pending in the Court of Appeal, as compared to 8,302 pending as at Dec 31, 2011,” said Arifin, adding that the Court of Appeal’s target for this year was to dispose off pre-2012 cases.
He also said the high courts and subordinate courts nationwide had continued to maintain their high performance.
He said the high courts disposed off more than 120,000 civil and 6,000 criminal cases while the Sessions Courts disposed off more than 130,000 civil and 27,000 criminal cases.
The magistrate’s courts disposed off 250,000 civil and more than 134,000 criminal cases.
Arifin said, in order to expedite disposal of cases, a timeline was set.
He said 90.1 per cent of the cases disposed off at the High courts was within the nine-month timeline set, while 85.8 per cent of cases disposed off in the Sessions courts was within the nine-month timeline and 81.6 per cent of cases in the Magistrate’s courts, within the six-month timeline.
He said, to address the significant increase in the number of cases brought forward to this year in the Federal Court, two Federal Court panels would be sitting every week, starting March, where the first panel would hear leave applications and criminal appeals.
The second panel will hear civil appeals.
Arifin also announced that effective Oct 16, last year, the Federal Court had started issuing press summary of the judgment of the court to assist the public in understanding the reasons behind the court’s decision.
He said it was part of the judiciary’s efforts to make justice more transparent.
Arifin also said, with the support of AG, the judiciary was seriously considering the establishment of mediation division in the Chief Registrar’s Office to undertake the promotion of mediation amongst litigants.
“I am also proposing that all accident cases be subjected to the compulsory mediation.
Cases will only be set down for trial if mediation failed. A Practice Direction will be issued to this effect,” he said.
About 400 people, comprising judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and Sessions Court, judicial officers, members from the Bar Council and from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and retired judges, attended the ceremony.
Also present were Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam Deputy Chief Justice Tuong Duy Luong, Singapore Court of Appeal vice-president Justice Chao Hick Tin and Supreme Court of Guam Judge, Justice Robert J. Torres Jr. – Bernama