Sunday, February 8, 2009

Respect Constitutional Right To Seek Redress In Courts

Feb 8, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 (Bernama) -- Anyone who wants to seek redress in the courts should be free to do so and be free from any form of harassment, said Malaysian Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.

She said it was also the fundamental right of any person to take any matter to the courts for determination and resolution.

She said intimidation of litigants and their lawyers in the exercise of their rights and duties respectively, was an affront to the dignity of the courts and the administration of justice.

"We strongly urge that all parties respect this fundamental right to seek redress in our courts. We must never regress to a position where we sacrifice this vital principle for political mileage or self-interest," she said.

She said this in a statement in response to the outcry by certain parties who had slammed DAP chairman Karpal Singh's action to file a legal suit against Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak allowing the Barisan Nasional to replace the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government in the state after the PR failed to command the majority in the state legislature on Friday.

"In a modern democratic nation like ours, such a challenge is wholly untenable," she said.

Ambiga said an advocate and a solicitor must be allowed to advocate his or her client's case without fear or favour.

"It is then up to the courts to resolve the various issues, which they must do independently and without regard to political exigencies. Decisions made with regard to political factors never stand the test of time," she added.

Ambiga also said the present situation in Perak had raised many legal and constitutional issues.

"It is the view of some Constitutional lawyers that the prerogative of the Ruler is "non-justiciable" and cannot be reviewed by the courts. Thus although we, and others, are of the view that the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly would have been the best solution, it is difficult to challenge the prerogative of the Ruler, who exercised that prerogative by ascertaining the views of the majority of the Assembly and then deciding who in the "Rulers judgment" (under the Perak Constitution) commands their confidence. However, in the Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan case, such a discretion of the Governor (not a Ruler) was held to be justiciable," she said.

She added that the situation (in Perak) now was unchartered territory and that different interpretations were always possible.

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