I’m not a lawyer. Far from it. I’m a layman like most of you here. But I must say that I was disquieted by what I read today at the Loyar Burok site. The article in question is here.
I reproduce some parts for you guys to read.
With the nation, lawyers, non-governmental organisations both local and international, scholars and the appellant waiting for a written judgment, what does the Court of Appeal do? It declines and its reasons for doing so are worth mentioning. I have taken the liberty of translating the substance of the letter here:
2. As you are aware, the accused (Abd. Rahim bin Abd. Rahman) was charged and sentenced by the Shah Alam Sessions Court for a few offences under section 377B of the Penal Code. He appealed to the High Court on his conviction and sentence. The High Court dismissed his appeal and he thereafter appealed to the Court of Appeal.
3. On 18 January 2010, the Court of Appeal dismissed the accused’s appeal and confirmed the High Court and Sessions Court decisions.
4. You are also aware that this case originated from the Sessions Court, the Court of Appeal is the final court of appeal and the Court of Appeal’s decision cannot be appealed to the Federal Court.
5. Therefore, I have been instructed to inform you that there is no written grounds of judgment will be prepared because the necessity to prepare a written judgment does not arise.
It would appear that many within our country and outside of it seem to appreciate the significance of the Court of Appeal decision and are curious to understand its reasoning. It is regrettable that the President of the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal do not appreciate the necessity for providing the grounds of written decision especially when the Court of Appeal in this case is the apex court. – Loyar Burok.
So, basically some of our judges, for reasons best known to them, are reluctant to write the grounds for their judgment. I get to thinking, if I was a litigant in the case mentioned above, I could go the whole hog right up to the Court of Appeal, but I might not know in the end why a judge decided my case in a certain way.
That for me is an insult. These judges think it’s beneath them to have written grounds? Are they afraid that their judgments may be criticised? Or critiqued, as one commenter put it?
Whatever it is, I don’t think justice is seen to be served here.
The importance of written judgments cannot have escaped the judges involved. From the time they went to law school they must have read scores of judgments. Some of the judgments actually became binding precedent on lower courts and on subsequent cases. Lord Denning must be writhing in pain, in his grave.
This lack of ratio decidendi is indeed lamentable. But in Malaysia where the average man in the street is “buta hak”, among other things, such things are easily overlooked. Most of us don’t see this as soal periuk nasi.
Most of us who are more turned on by a certain politician’s latest marriage that earned him a jail sentence, or the latest ubat kuat and ubat ketat in the market. What makes me even more disillusioned is that all of you actually can read and write. Some are college educated and some of you are teachers even, yet prefer to be ignorant as your rights as citizens are slowly taken away.
Wake up, friends and fellow citizens. There are a lot of things wrong with our system today, but lazy, irresponsible judges? This is something you should not have to tolerate.
If our system is a condemned old city, then the first thing we need to take a wrecking ball to, is the judiciary. I don’t know if the Chief Justice would listen to little old me, esp since he’s too busy hobnobbing at Lincoln’s Inn.