Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lawyer VK Lingam banned from practising law


Senior lawyer VK Lingam, who was caught on tape in an allegedly judge-fixing scandal eight years ago, has been struck off the roll as an advocate and solicitor earlier this month.

This follows a decision by the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board made on Nov 6.
Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru has confirmed the decision.

"Yes, he has been struck off," Thiru said in an e-mail to Malaysiakini, without divulging details.

An advocates and solicitors disciplinary board member, Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, when contacted, also confirmed the decision, saying he was not part of the three-member panel which made the decision.

"He can still appeal," Kuthubul told Malaysiakini, who is also a former Malaysian Bar president.

The well-known lawyer, who is believed to be in the United Kingdom seeking medical treatment, can still appeal the decision.

His lawyer, R Thayalan, confirmed with The Malaysian Insider that they will file an appeal at the High Court.
Lingam was implicated in a judge-fixing scandal when a video clip of him apparently negotiating the appointment of top judges was made public in 2007.

A royal commission of inquiry was set up in 2008 to probe the matter.

The five-member commission recommended that action be taken against key personalities involved in the scandal – Lingam, former chief justices Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Eusoff Chin, Umno leader Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and business tycoon Vincent Tan.

In its 191-page report, the commission recommended that the six be investigated under a slew of laws – Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act and the Legal Profession Act.

Challenging the RCI findings

Lingam and the others tried to challenge the findings but on Dec 12, 2008, then Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Abdul Kadir Musa rejected the applications of Lingam, Eusoff, Ahmad Fairuz, tycoon Vincent Tan and BN and Tengku Adnan to challenge the commission’s findings.

The Court of Appeal then granted leave for Lingam, Ahmad Fairuz and Eusoff to challenge the RCI findings in the High Court.

However, in a landmark decision on Sept 13, 2011, the Federal Court ruled that findings of the RCI cannot be challenged. This ended the legal challenge of Lingam and the two former chief justices.

Despite this Federal Court decision, the authorities did not take any action against Lingam.

Lingam, along with 24 others, is also facing contempt proceedings in the Federal Court following a move by the then attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail.

Malaysiakini reported earlier this year that former Court of Appeal judge KC Vohrah had written an article, published last year in an in-house publication of the Court of Appeal to mark its 20th anniversary (1994-2014), stating that Eusoff tried to influence a judge in the Ayer Molek Rubber Company vs Insas Bhd case in 1995. Lingam appeared for Insas.

Following Vohrah's revelation, former High Court judge Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Idid, the judge who revealed the alleged incidence of corruption in the judiciary, felt vindicated.

Recently retired Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus (photo), had as High Court judge presided over a suit brought by Lingam against Euro Money Publications in relation to an article titled ‘Malaysian justice on trial’, which was published in the International Commercial Litigation magazine. Hishamudin dismissed Lingam’s suit.

Hishamudin was highlighted in a Malaysiakini report for being sidelined from elevation to the Federal Court, despite being the most senior judge in the Court of Appeal.

While Lingam submitted to the High Court that the Court of Appeal judgment in the Ayer Molek case had been expunged, Justice Hishamudin stood his ground, saying the Federal Court panel led by Eusoff was not legally constituted as it comprised only "two legally competent judges” - namely Eusoff and a Court of Appeal judge.

The third judge in the panel, Pajan Singh Gill, was "not legally competent to sit on that bench as he was only a High Court judge then" Justice Hishamudin ruled.

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