PETALING JAYA: Court judgments can be criticised but one should never make unfounded allegations against judges, former Bar Council president Zainur Zakaria said.
He said lawyers should also exhaust all avenues of appeal up to the Federal Court to canvass that lower courts were wrong in their decisions.
“One can criticise judgments from the legal and factual perspective but don’t become emotional and attack the judges or the administration of justice,” he said.
Zainur said this in response to lawyer T C Nayagam being fined RM150,000 on Monday after he pleaded guilty to contempt of court for claiming that a Federal Court bench had plagiarised its judgment.
Another 20 majority and minority shareholders of a company in a commercial dispute were fined RM100,000 each or eight months’ imprisonment after they changed their mind and pleaded guilty.
Nayagam was the lawyer who had advised eight of the 20 litigants to file a review of a judgment on grounds that a three-man Federal Court bench in 2012 allegedly copied “lock, stock and barrel” the submission of the winning party.
A five-man Federal Court bench, led by Suryadi Halim Omar, in passing sentence, today said their act against the court was undeniably serious and besmirched the good name of the judiciary.
They had “subverted the course of justice, undermined public confidence, ridiculed, scandalised and offended the dignity of the judiciary”, said Suryadi in a strongly worded oral judgment.
Zainur, who had been cited for contempt during the first sodomy trial of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in 1999 but who was finally acquitted by the Federal Court, said there was nothing wrong for the court to adopt the submission of litigants who had won.
“Courts have been doing this, incorporating the submissions of the winner in their written grounds,” he said.
However, he was non-committal on whether the fine imposed on Nayagam was excessive as “each case has to be treated based on the facts and circumstances”.
The government prosecuted a total of 25 people, including former lawyer V K Lingam who represented 12 majority shareholders.
Lingam and three minority shareholders were absent yesterday and their cases would be heard later.
The 23 shareholders of Kian Joo Can Factory Bhd (KJCF) had filed a review of a previous decision in relation to the sale of stakes in their company.
In that review application, they had contended “plagiarism” in a written judgement but the Federal Court dismissed the application on May 22, 2013. -FMT