Malaysian Bar welcomes setting aside of contempt order against Shankar

Shankar Ram Asnani (file pic)

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KUCHING, March 26: The Malaysian Bar has welcomed the Appellate Court’s decision to set aside the contempt of court order issued against senior lawyer Shankar Ram Asnani.

Malaysian Bar president A.G. Kalidas said the bar is heartened by the Court of Appeal’s move as a contempt of court is a very serious charge that could put unnecessary pressure on lawyers and should be exercised with an abundance of caution.

“Lawyers are partners in the administration of justice and we seek the understanding of the judiciary to avoid citing a lawyer for contempt for procedural shortcomings in the conduct of matters.

“The initial contempt charge brought upon Shankar would have had serious ramifications on the conduct and practice of lawyers, particularly for litigators who regularly face time constraints and complications due to the uncertainties and volatility of their cases,” he said.

Citing contempt of court for non-conformance of procedure, he added, could potentially hinder the lawyers’ ability to act in the best interests of their clients.

He said while the Courts must have some authority to punish those in contempt in order to protect the integrity of the judicial process, it should be done sparingly and only in the most deserving cases.

As the lack of specific laws to deal with contempt of court cases creates a lacuna in the legal system, he said adding that codification of the law is necessary to provide a clearer understanding of this vague legal concept.

With that, the Malaysian Bar reiterated its call to the government for the codification of the law of contempt.

“We are ready to work closely with the Government and stakeholders to provide our input, to be torchbearers, in the realisation of this goal,” said Kalidas in a statement today.

The Kuching High Court had on Jan 12 cited Shankar for contempt in the face of court as he was allegedly one month late in filing his bundle of documents.

On March 18, the Court of Appeal reversed the learned Judicial Commissioner’s decision and quashed Shankar’s contempt of court order. —DayakDaily