NOT A FIT AND PROPER PERSON?
A recent decision of the High Court against Jude Blacious Pereira (Pereira) a former police office turned lawyer seeking admission to practice in its jurisdiction is to say the very least antithetical to good law and a troubling decision that cannot go undisturbed.
That decision in Pereira appears to be grounded on political rather than on legal or equitable principles. To add to the inequity of the court’s decision in Pereira is the egregious indirect interpleading in the matter by Suhakam, a political organization with a human rights ‘fig leaf’ for its cover.
SUHAKAM A LAW COURT OR A LAW UNTO ITSELF
Reading through Act 597 (Act) the Act of parliament which created Suhakam, one finds nothing within that Act to suggest that Suhakam is a source of legal authority with the power to make a ‘finding’, or a ‘decision’ (Finding) in the legal sense of the word against anyone. Further there is nothing in the Act by which any Findings by Suhakam, if that is what it is indeed, is binding on a higher tribunal as the High Court or justifies the High Court receiving into evidence a Finding by Suhakam in the context of Pereira’s application.
For the purposes of Pereira’s application for admission at least (which was not before the court in any event), what occurred in Suhakam at a tribunal of inquiry level and the way in which their Finding came about could not be admissible as ‘evidence’ of his ‘character’. Suhakam’s Findings in this regard have no legal sanction or force of law for their conclusions to constitute a valid and adverse Finding against Pereira. If it did, it should have properly been referred to a court of law because of the inferences of perjury by Pereira and an allegation he misled the court in Sodomy II.
The ‘evidence’ of that Finding against Pereira by Suhakam that Pereira is not a ‘fit and proper person’ to be admitted as an officer of the High Court and as a legal practitioner is not evidence in any proper sense capable of impeaching Pereira’s character. Neither is that ‘evidence’ binding on any properly constituted court of law as the High Court for a number of reasons only some of which for convenience is addressed here.
THE HIGH COURT – A LOW POINT
The High Court erred in subordinating its powers and its authority to the Findings of an inferior tribunal without any legislative or inherent power enabling it to do so. Its findings were not made on any petition put forward by Periera to support his admission to practice.
The High Court and the presiding judge likewise possess no authority or power to accept into evidence as they erroneously did, the ‘evidence’ or submissions of Suhakam’s ‘Findings against anyone including Pereira in this regard.
Interestingly it is observed that there was criticism of Pereira’s failure by the court to challenge or to seek to set aside the Findings of Suhakam against him. A point to be made here on that criticism is this; there is no legal requirement on the part of Pereira to seek to set aside or challenge the Findings of a body as Suhakam as a pre-condition of his application to being admitted to the High Court as a legal practitioner of that court.
Suhakam made no legal Findings capable of being admitted into evidence on Pereira’s character in any meaningful way other than by its visceral judgment.
The Findings of Suhakam against Pereira has no force of law. Suhakam is merely an advisory body set up to advice government on matters relating to the subject of international human rights and its potential for application to domestic legislation. It is not a court of law.
SUHAKAMS BACK DOOR ENTRY ON BEHALF OF ANWAR
Apart from controversially receiving into evidence Suhakam’s Findings against Pereira, the High Court allowed into the proceeding damning indirect criticisms of the Court of Appeal and the High Court itself. It did so by accepting into evidence the further allegation that Pereira had ‘fabricated evidence and lied’ to the court in the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II trial. That allegation against Pereira of ‘fabricating evidence’ and having ‘lied’ in the Sodomy II matter had no place in the High Court in Pereira’s application.
Having erroneously and controversially received into evidence this particular aspect of Suhakam’s Findings against Pereira the result simply is this:
- Suhakam opens itself to the charge of contempt of Court of Appeal and High Court
- Suhakam opens itself to a charge of bringing the High Court and Court of Appeal into disrepute
- Suhakam opens itself to allegations of abuse of process in the High Court by its conduct in the matter of Pereira, by using Pereira’s application as a secondary platform by which to advance a defence on behalf of Anwar Ibrahim on the charge of Sodomy II
Sodomy II has already been properly tried before a competent court in Malaysia. In that hearing Anwar Ibrahim was found guilty after considering all the relevant and admissible evidence laid properly before that court. Suhakam and the High Court in Pereira is certainly not the proper forum or mechanism in which to challenge the evidence of the Court of Appeal or court of first instance in Sodomy II.
Of the three points above, c ) is particularly relevant. This is because it raises issues in respect of the manner in which Suhakam seemingly in Anwar’s defence, seeks to advance in an unlawful and inappropriate way for a collateral and improper purpose, a rehearing of evidence in Sodomy II.
KILLING OFF JUDE PEREIRA FOR THE MOMENT
Nothing of substance about the character of Pereira of any value to support a challenge to his admission is raised in Suhakam’s submissions, its Findings. In this respect the High Court in its jurisdiction ought not to have received into evidence Suhakam’s allegations (and that’s what they are, mere allegations) against Pereira for the reasons above.
Suhakam’s conduct points instead to a political lynching of a man in uniform who properly and impartially discharged his duties as an officer of the PDRM on the instructions of his superiors and in compliance with the law. The legal profession and those self-appointed guardians and unelected champions of the ‘Human Rights’ of Malaysians on the occasion of their arrest felt they were above the law in being detained and denied access to lawyers when in fact they had contravened a law and disobeyed a lawful direction given to them by the Police to disperse.
The conduct and political partiality of those lawyers whose complaints led to the Suhakam inquiry against Pereira is evident and characterized by their choice of forum by accessing Suhakam in preference to the more appropriate jurisdiction of the law courts to ventilate their complaints against the lawful conduct of Pereira.