Judiciary must be above politics, or there could be civil war, warns constitutional law expert

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V. Anbalagan, TMI

The judiciary must be above politics or there will be dire consequences, including a civil war as history has shown, warned constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari (pic).

Aziz’s reminder came in the wake of the Court of Appeal decision yesterday which found opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim guilty of sodomy.

Anwar was sentenced to five years’ jail but the sentenced was stayed pending a final appeal in the Federal Court.

The appellate court yesterday set aside the High Court ruling which acquitted Anwar  following an appeal by Putrajaya.

Anwar’s lawyer Karpal Singh had complained that the appeal was rushed and his client was denied every opportunity to exhaust his appeal to stop Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee from prosecuting the case in his capacity as deputy public prosecutor.

The verdict was pronounced immediately after two days of proceedings.

The appellate court judges also refused Karpal’s application to adjourn the sentencing date to a week later in order to get Anwar’s medical reports.

“It is a pity that the judges prefer to take the route taken by a former US Supreme Court chief justice Roger Tanney, who was condemned for upholding slavery by using the US constitution in 1865, a decision that triggered the US civil war,” Malaysiakini quoted Aziz as saying in a statement today.

Aziz said the hurried proceedings in Anwar’s case raised various concerns and this was in total contrast when compared to the cautious handling of the Allah case.

In the Allah row, the Federal Court heard parties over whether to grant leave to appeal a Court of Appeal ruling but reserved judgment.

“The court must stay above politics to protect its independence and integrity.

“In Anwar’s case, the court chose not to disassociate itself from a government that has lost its legitimacy to rule, a government that seems unable to play on a level playing field,” he said.