Contributed by Alex Anton Netto
On the 12th day of April 2020, the legal fraternity suffered a colossal loss with the passing of Justice Dato' Karam Chand Vohrah or fondly referred to as Dato' K C Vohrah. He was 83 years of age.
When the legal fraternity speaks of Justice Vohrah, the infamous case of Ayer Molek Rubber Company Berhad & 9 Ors v Insas Berhad & Anor  3 CLJ 359 always comes to mind. This case saw the gathering of great legal luminaries of the Court of Appeal taking their rightful seat and righting a wrong that was perpetuated by the High Court and/or the solicitors at the material time. Justice Vohrah, opting to sit in from the High Court, joined ranks with the late Justice Dato’ N.H. Chan and Justice Dato’ Siti Norma Yaakob.
In Ayer Molek, the Court of Appeal sent a clarion call to the courts to jealously guard its inherent jurisdiction to right injustices however they present themselves, because justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. The court also noted, with much concern, the manner in which a case that was meant to be heard in the Commercial Division of the High Court was heard, albeit wrongly, in the Appellate & Special Powers Division. The Court of Appeal noted that the Judge, upon realising this error, ought to have transferred the matter to its rightful division, but this was not done. The Court of Appeal set out to make it right because as Justice N.H. Chan put it, so that people would not say, “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.” (Shakespeare Hamlet, Act I.)
This 1995 Court of Appeal case has not been left unobserved or unappreciated by the Judiciary over the years. As recent as 2019, the High Court in the case of PP v Rosmah Mansor  1 LNS 708 made the following observation:
It was also submitted that there is no power to order or to make a lateral transfer to another court as there is no such power contained in the CPC. This, it was submitted, was to prevent judge shopping and judge picking as happened in the case of Ayer Molek Rubber Co Bhd & Ors v. Insas Bhd & Anor  3 CLJ 359;  2 MLJ 734.
A softer more compassionate side to Justice Vohrah was visible in the Court of Appeal case of Zainuddin Muhammad v Atsco Ltd & Anor  4 CLJ 141. Here, Justice Vohrah sat with Justice Gopal Sri Ram (as he then was) and Justice Denis Ong (as he then was). The crux of the issue before the Court of Appeal was whether a contempt of court sentence as set by the High Court should stand due to the failure of a government servant to disclose his assets in a timely fashion.
Justice Vohrah, in taking a kinder more pragmatic approach, ruled in favour of overruling the High Court by stating the following:
In considering what punishment to impose the court has to take into account all relevant circumstances including the nature of the contempt and mitigating circumstances which include the contemnor's good character (see eg, Danchevsky v. Danchevsky  Fam 17 and Goff v. Goff  1 FLR 436 CA), his health and his age. The appellant was a high Government Official before his retirement with an unblemished record. There is also the fact that he is an elderly person being 68 years of age and that he had a heart bypass surgery some ten years ago and that he makes frequent visits to his cardiologist. Foolish he was for having been recklessly sluggish but the assets were all disclosed and clearly there is contrition on his part. The court was of the view that in all the circumstances a warning coupled with a punitive order for costs to respondent with a certificate for two counsel would suffice (for the imposition of costs as penalty, see eg, R v. Border Television Ltd and R v. Newcastle Chronicle & Journal Ltd  68 Cr App Rep 375 at 377).
Justice Vohrah was a strong advocate of the need for there to be a separation of powers between the office of the Public Prosecutor and the Attorney-General’s Chambers so that the rule of law can be upheld. His rationale for this was so that the Public Prosecutor would be able to act independently on the evidence without being politically motivated, and the Attorney General can continue to act as adviser to the government.
This scribe believes that former Court of Appeal Judge Justice Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof described the late Judge the best, when he said that Justice Vohrah was a perfect gentleman, a legal luminary, the embodiment of humility, and a good friend.
Rest peacefully Judge and thank you for your service.
Alex Anton Netto
15 April 2020