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(1) Bar Council vs VK Lingam (1998) HC October 2, 2007

Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Democracy, History, Human Rights, Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics.
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A worthwhile addition to one’s archives, from the Malaysian Bar website.

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MAJLIS PEGUAM LWN. V KANAGALINGAM

MAHKAMAH TINGGI MALAYA, KUALA LUMPUR

ARIFIN JAKA H, T SELVENTHIRANATHAN H, HASHIM YUSOFF H

[RAYUAN SIVIL NO: 17-73-96]
2 MAC 1998

PENGHAKIMAN

Hashim Yusoff H: Perayu di dalam kes ini merayu terhadap keputusan Lembaga Tatatertib Peguam-Peguam (Lembaga Tatatertib) bertarikh 21 Jun 1996 yang memutuskan bahawa penyiasatan oleh Tribunal Penyiasatan mengenai aduan pihak perayu terhadap responden adalah tidak perlu.

Peguam perayu di hadapan kami telah menghujahkan di atas perkara-perkara seperti yang tertera di memorandum rayuan yang boleh diringkaskan seperti berikut:

(1) bahawa Lembaga Tatatertib tidak meneliti aduan yang dibuat.

(2) bahawa Lembaga Tatatertib gagal memberi pertimbangan terhadap kritikan hebat oleh Mahkamah Rayuan terhadap tingkahlaku responden, khususnya, yang dikatakan menyalahguna proses Mahkamah Tinggi dengan memanipulasi prosidur Mahkamah di dalam kes Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur Guaman Sivil No. R3-25-3-1995. (3) Bahawa Lembaga Tatatertib tersilap dan segi undang-undang apabila mengambilkira keputusan Mahkamah Persekutuan yang bertarikh 12 Ogos 1995 dalam Permohonan Sivil Mahkamah Persekutuan No. 08-48 tahun 1995.

(4) Bahawa Lembaga Tatatertib dalam bersandarkan keputusan Mahkamah Persekutuan itu telah melepaskan tanggungjawabnya untuk memberi dan menyiasat aduan terhadap responden.

(5) Bahawa Lembaga Tatatertib sekurang-kurangnya patut mendengar aduan yang dibuat oleh majlis peguam/perayu itu dan tidak sepatutnya secara terus menyelesaikan perkara itu.

Aduan oleh Majlis Peguam/Perayu di dalam kes ini terdapat di dalam suratnya (surat aduan) yang bertarikh 18 Mac 1996 kepada Lembaga Tatatertib (sila rujuk m.s. 13 rekod rayuan). Kandungan surat aduan menjelaskan dakwaandakwaan yang dibuat terhadap responden secara terperinci dan kami fikir tidak perlu diulangkan di sini. Di dalam surat aduan itu Lembaga Tatatertib diminta untuk menyiasat terhadap perkara yang diadukan itu mengikut s. 100 Akta Profesyen Undang-undang 1976 (Akta), yang memperuntukkan, antara lain, seperti berikut:

100 Investigating Tribunal

(1) Where a written application or complaint is referred to the Disciplinary Board, the Disciplinary Board shall, if it considers that there is merit in the application or complaint, forthwith constitute an Investigating Tribunal.

Seterusnya Lembaga Tatatertib melalui suratnya kepada (Presiden) Majlis Peguam/Perayu bertarikh 21 Jun 1996 menyatakan, setelah menimbang aduan (perayu), ia berpendapat peguamcara berkenaan (responden) tidak melanggar mana-mana peruntukan Akta atau mana-mana kaedah yang dibuat di bawahnya. Justeru itu Lembaga Tatatertib membuat keputusan bahawa suatu siasatan oleh Tribunal Penyiasatan adalah tidak perlu.

Peguam perayu menghujahkan bahawa tindakan atau keputusan Lembaga Tatatertib ini adalah salah kerana tidak meneliti aduan yang dibuat. Di sebaliknya pula responden berhujah bahawa Lembaga Tatatertib telah pun menimbangkan aduan tersebut dan mendapati tiada merit di dalam aduan itu.

Perlu diingatkan bahawa aduan perayu adalah berasaskan kepada kritikan yang dibuat dalam penghakiman oleh Mahkamah Rayuan yang mendengar rayuan di dalam kes Mahkamah Rayuan Sivil No. W-02-187-1995 seperti yang dilaporkan sebagai Ayer Molek Rubber Co Bhd & Ors v. Insas Bhd & Anor [1995] 3 CLJ 359; [1995] 2 MLJ 734.

Tetapi Mahkamah Persekutuan melalui Permohonan Sivil Mahkamah Persekutuan No. 08-48-dalam tahun 1995 (kes Mahkamah Persekutuan) yang dilaporkan sebagai Insas Bhd & Anor v. Ayer Molek Rubber Co Bhd [1995] 3 CLJ 328;, di m.s. 845 dan para. B seterusnya telah memadamkan kritikan berkenaan daripada penghakiman Mahkamah Rayuan iaitu di [1995] 2 MLJ 734 di m.s. 738F – 739C dan m.s. 743H – 744A yang berbunyi:

We would therefore expunge the following remarks from the judgment of the Court of Appeal [1995] 2 MLJ 734 at pp 738F-739C and 743H – 744A:

But this case is more than that. This is a case about an injustice which has been perpetrated by a court of law. This is also a case about abuse of the process of the High Court and therefore, it concerns the inherent power which any court of justice must possess to prevent misuse of its procedure and in which the court has a duty to exercise this salutary power.

Although the ex parte mandatory injunction should not have been granted in the circumstances of this case in the first place, that is not the injustice which is revealed in this case. The injustice is manifest, it is to be seen in which the order is framed, the terms or which pre-empt the defendants from exercising their right to apply to discharge an ex parte injunction obtained behind the backs of the defendants. Here, the plaintiffs through their legal advisers have abused the process of the High Court by instigating the injustice through misuse of the court’s procedure by manipulating it in such a way that it becomes manifestly unfair to the defendants. By doing what they did, these unethical lawyers have brought the administration of justice into disrepute among right thinking people.

We do not think we can do better with this censure than to voice and emphasize the opening words of Lord Diplock in his judgment in the House of Lords in Hunter v. Chief Constable [1982] AC 529 at p. 536; [1982] 3 All ER 727 at p. 729; [1981] 3 WLR 906 at p. 909:

My Lords, this is a case about abuse of the process of the High Court. It concerns the inherent power which any court of justice must possess to prevent misuse of its procedure in a way which, although not inconsistent with the literal application of its procedural rules, would nevertheless be manifestly unfair to a party to litigation before it, or would otherwise bring the administration of justice into disrepute among right-thinking people. The circumstances in which abuse of process can arise are very varied; those which give rise to the instant appeal must surely be unique. It would, in my view, be most unwise if this House were to use this occasion to say anything that might be taken as limiting to fixed categories the kinds of circumstances in which the court has a duty (I disavow the word discretion) to exercise this salutary power.

The fact that the proceedings were filed in the wrong division does not render the proceedings in any way invalid but may, coupled with other considerations in the present case, give the impression to right-thinking people that litigants can choose the judge before whom they wish to appear for their case to be adjudicated upon. This, we consider, may lead to very unhealthy negative thinking and since justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done, it is incumbent on the trial judge, upon perusal of the pleadings, to have taken the initiative of transferring the proceedings to the right division so as to dispel any notion that he is partial to any party.

In expunging these totally unwarranted and unjustified remarks from the judgment of the Court of Appeal written on 31 July 1995, we must place on record of our disappointment and displeasure (to put it mildly), at the conduct of the three judges of the Court of Appeal for having without any justification criticised those who were not given the opportunity to defend or explain themselves.

We wish to remind judges and magistrates that where they find that an advocate handling any matter before them has grossly abused the process of court or acted in a highly unethical manner, the proper step to be taken is for them to lodge a report with the Legal Profession Disciplinary Board established under s. 99(2) of the Legal Profession Act 1976, which will investigate the complaint and where both the accuser and the accused will be given a fair opportunity to state their cases.

Memandangkan perkara yang menjadi asas kepada aduan sudah tidak wujud lagi, jadi kepada apa lagi yang aduan berkenaan boleh disandarkan? Jawapannya mestilah dengan kehilangan “subtratum” atau asas dari mana aduan dibuat, maka aduan itu dengan sendirinya gugur dan perkara itu tidak sepatutnya ditimbulkan lagi.

Tetapi peguam perayu masih cuba menongkat tindakan perayu dengan menghujahkan bahawa keputusan Mahkamah Persekutuan itu masih boleh disoalkan kerana korum Mahkamah Persekutuan berkenaan dikatakan tidak betul.

Walau apa pun, peguam perayu menghujahkan di dalam suatu tindakan tatatertib, sesuatu keputusan yang dibuat oleh mahkamah masih boleh dipersoalkan di dalam tindakan tatatertib. Beliau merujuk suatu kes Privy Council – Issac Paul Ratnam v. Law Society Of Singapore [1976] 1 MLJ 195 di mana, Lord Simon of Glaisdale di m.s. 200 para G-I kanan berkata:

There is a preliminary point which arises – namely, whether in disciplinary proceedings under the Legal Profession Act it is open, for the purposes of s. 84(2)(a) (conviction implying a defect of character), to go behind the conviction and enquire whether it was correctly made. The Disciplinary Committee held that it was not open to them to go behind the conviction. The High Court assumed that it was open to them to go behind the conviction; though, having done so, they held that the appellant was rightly convicted. It is, strictly, unnecessary for their Lordships to express an opinion on this point; in view of the procedural irregularity (which was not known to the High Court) the relevance of the conviction was not to s. 84(2)(a) but to s. 84(2)(b) (improper conduct). But, since the matter was fully argued before their Lordships, they think it proper to state that they agree with the view of the High Court. They would, however, add this rider. Although it is open to go behind the conviction, this would only be justified in exceptional circumstances.

Dengan hormatnya kes Isaac Paul Ratnam v. Law Society Of Singapore, supra, berbeza faktanya. Di dalam kes itu rujukan dibuat oleh peguam perayu kepada the Legal Profession Act (Singapore) khususnya kandungan s. 84(1) dan s. 84(2)(a) dan (b) yang memperuntukkan –

84(1)All advocates and solicitors shall be subject to the control of the Supreme Court and shall be liable on due cause shown to be struck off the roll or suspended from practice for any period not exceeding two years or censured.

(2) Such due cause may be shown by proof that such person –

(a) has been convicted of a criminal offence, implying a defect of character which makes him unfit for his profession; or

(b) has been guilty of fraudulent or grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duty or guilty of such a breach of any usage or rule of conduct made by the Council (viz. the Council of the respondents, the Law Society) under the provisions of this Act as in the opinion of the court amounts to improper conduct or practice as an advocate and solicitor;

Kami berpendapat kes tersebut jika terpakai, adalah suatu autoriti berpengaruh sahaja. Tetapi kes itu boleh dibezakan sebab s. 84(2)(a) melibatkan sabitan dalam sesuatu kes jenayah manakala s. 84(2)(b) pula melibatkan satu kesalahan fraud atau kelakuan tidak senonoh yang melampau. Walhal di dalam kes kita Mahkamah Persekutuan membuat perintah antara lain untuk memadamkan kritikan yang terdapat di dalam penghakiman Mahkamah Rayuan itu. Tidak terdapat apa-apa keterangan atau fakta mengenai sabitan atau fraud oleh responden.

Di sini kami ingin menyatakan bahawa di dalam kes Mahkamah Persekutuan tersebut permohonan adalah oleh pemohon-pemohon – Insas Bhd & Satu Lagi untuk mendapat kebenaran Mahkamah Persekutuan untuk merayu terhadap keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan. Mahkamah Persekutuan telah membenarkan permohonan ini dan di samping itu juga telah memadamkan kritikan yang terdapat di dalam penghakiman Mahkamah Rayuan seperti yang kami sebutkan tadi. Kemudian, pada 14 September 1995, kedua-dua pihak telah memfailkan notis pemberhentian di atas tindakan masing-masing di peringkat Mahkamah Tinggi dan juga di Mahkamah Rayuan. Ini juga bermakna bahawa selepas 14 September 1995, tidak ada apa-apa kausa lagi yang boleh menjadi asas untuk apa-apa tindakan berkenaan kes ini. Oleh itu kami sekali lagi dengan hormatnya mendapati ‘subtratum’ atau asas aduan sudah tidak wujud lagi.

Walau apa pun, sesuatu keputusan Mahkamah Persekutuan adalah mengikati dan menaklukki segala mahkamah yang tertakluk kepadanya termasuk Mahkamah Tinggi di bawah doktrin “stare decisis“. Bukan menjadi tugas kami untuk menyoal keesahaan keputusan tersebut dan memang bukan tujuan kami untuk berbuat demikian.

Di sini rujukan boleh dibuat kepada apa yang dikatakan oleh Lord Diplock di Privy Council di dalam kes Isaacs v. Robertson [1985] 1 AC 97, di m.s. 101 (petikan dan kes Hadkinson v. Hadkinson [1952] P 285 di m.s. 288 dan penghakiman Romer LJ yang berbunyi:

It is the plain and unqualified obligation of every person against, or in respect of whom, an order is made by a court of competent jurisdiction, to obey it unless and until that order is discharged. The uncompromising nature of this obligation is shown by the fact that it extends even to cases where the person affected by an order believes it to be irregular or even void. ‘A party who knows of an order, whether null and void, regular or irregular, cannot be permitted to disobey it … It would be most dangerous to hold that the suitors, or their solicitors, could themselves judge whether an order was null and void – whether it was regular or irregular. That they should come to the court and not take upon themselves to determine such a question: that the course of a party knowing of an order, which was null and irregular and who might be affected by it was plain. He should apply to the court that it might be discharged. As long as it existed it must not be disobeyed. (per Lord Cottenham LC in Chuck v. Cremer [1846] Cooper Kemp Cottenham 205, 336).

Jelas, seperti yang dihujahkan oleh responden, setelah kedua-dua pihak memberhentikan tindakan masing-masing di dalam kes yang berkenaan seperti disebut tadi, tidak ada apa-apa lagi yang patut dibangkitkan. Pihak-pihak yang terlibat sendiri tidak membuat sebarang aduan terhadap responden. Kini pula perayu inginkan Lembaga Tatatertib membuat siasatan di atas sesuatu perkara yang sudah tidak wujud lagi.

Juga kami bersetuju dengan apa yang dihujahkan oleh responden iaitu apa yang perlu dibuat oleh Lembaga Tatatertib di bawah s. 100 Akta ialah di mana sesuatu permohonan atau aduan bertulis dirujuk kepada Lembaga Tatatertib ia hendaklah, jika ia memikirkan ada merit di dalam permohonan atau aduan tersebut, menubuhkan suatu Tribunal Penyiasatan.

Dalam rayuan ini surat Lembaga Tatatertib bertarikh 21 Jun 1996 jelas menunjukkan ia telah menimbang aduan perayu terhadap responden dan telah berpendapat responden tidak melanggar mana-mana peruntukan di bawah akta atau mana-mana kaedah yang dibuat di bawahnya. Kami juga berpendapat Lembaga Tatatertib itu telah menjalankan tugasnya mengikut peruntukan s. 100 Akta dan ia tidak tersilap apabila memutuskan tribunal penyiasatan itu adalah tidak perlu.

Berdasarkan sebab-sebab di atas kami berpendapat rayuan ini tidak bermerit dan ia ditolak dengan kos.

Bagi pihak perayu – Sulaiman Abdullah (Anita Sockalingam bersamanya)

Bagi pihak responden – V. Kanagalingam; Mewakili diri sendiri

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