©The Star (Used by permission)
by QISHIN TARIQ
PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria has revealed near 100% disposal of backlog cases across the country's courts, and criticised parties that delay criminal matters with mid–trial appeals.
Arifin called the disposal of backlogged cases "largely encouraging", but admitted a few that have gone on too long.
"However, these are due to unavoidable issues like technical problems and lawyers asking for too many extensions," he told reporters during a press conference at the Palace of Justice, here, on Tuesday.
Asked about a recent High Court criminal case, which had been ongoing for 14 years, Arifin called the issue "intolerable and unacceptable".
"There is no such thing as interlocutary decisions in criminal matters. Raise your objections, let the judge decide. If you are unhappy, appeal at the next stage," he said.
"You cannot keep 'ding dong, ding dong' the matter between courts. The idea is to swiftly reach a conviction or acquittal," added Arifin.
Revealing court performance statistics, he said the High Court had disposed of 99.9% of its pre–2009 criminal cases (3,414 down to 2) and 99.2% of civil cases (44,873 down to 335).
In the same period, the Sessions Courts had disposed of 99% of its criminal cases (9,377 to 103) and 99.9% of civil cases (61,659 to 6), while the magistrate’s courts had disposed of all its pre–2009 cases in 2012.
Mediation, introduced in 2009, had been attributed to expediting the resolution of many civil cases; to a point that a circular had been issued in 2012 making mediation compulsory for accident claims in the lower courts.
On the recent spate of conflicts between Syariah and Civil courts in the case of child custody, the Chief Justice said conflicts of law were a common occurrence around the world.
"Only in Malaysia, it happens in the same jurisdiction," he said, declining to comment further.
The head of the judiciary had earlier launched the Training Road Map for Federal Court chief registrar, as well as a series of pamphlets aimed at educating the public on basic legal issues.
Arifin said the pamphlets – which covered 10 topics including getting bail, remand, child court and public auction – would be available in courthouses and the judiciary's website (www.kehakiman.gov.my).
He also unveiled the 2013 Judicial Report, which listed the court's activities and performance in the last year.