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Criminal cases to proceed in open court during MCO - Chief Justice

20 Jan 2021 / 22:29 H.

PUTRAJAYA: All criminal case proceedings including public interest cases will continue to be conducted in open courts in states under the Movement Control Order (MCO) effective Jan 27.

Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat issued this directive today, and copies of the circular, sighted by Bernama, were sent out to court registrars, Court of Appeal president, Chief Judge of Malaya, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, the Attorney-General, the Bar Council, Advocates Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Society.

Among the criminal cases that will be focused on are pre-2020 cases, with priority to ongoing trials, those involving child offenders and cases of public interest, the circular read.

Public interest cases cover those involving corruption, commercial crime, environment, Habeas Corpus, domestic violence and violations under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

The court will also give preference to any case requested to be conducted for special reasons and exceptional circumstances, it stated.

However, the court also has the discretion to determine if a case should be conducted in open court during the MCO or not, the circular read.

It said all criminal case proceedings heard in chambers would have to be done in open court or virtually.

Also, in a single day, a total of three trial sessions will be held with a maximum period of 90 minutes for each trial session, and all proceedings must be conducted until completion.

The court must also ensure that no one is allowed to attend proceedings in open court except the accused and two family members or acquaintances, a deputy public prosecutor, witnesses or any number of people authorised by the court, the circular read.

Meanwhile, the Federal Court Chief Registrar’s Office (PKPMP), in a statement, said the Chief Justice’s directive was issued under the Section 16A of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and Section 3A of the Subordinate Courts’ Act 1948, adjusted through the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Act 2020.

To ensure administration of justice runs in a safe and orderly manner, PKPMP has issued the Covid-19 Outbreak Prevention Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for court users which will take effect on Jan 27.

Users must comply with the SOPs including ensuring physical distancing and registering via the MYSejahtera application before entering the court premises and courtroom or any court facility, the statement said.

They are also not allowed to meet accused who are in remand except when they are in open court, while those without relevant matters are prohibited from appearing in court, it added.

As for media coverage for public interest cases, the court may consider providing a room for live broadcasts with strict physical distance compliance, the use of face masks and the use of hand sanitisers or alternatively, providing media coverage facilities through the Zoom application, the statement read. — Bernama

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