I REFER to the report: Respect court’s decision on ‘Allah’, interfaith group urges all Malaysians”.I am respectful of Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) president R.S. Mohan Shan’s view that Kuala Lumpur High Court has made the right decision in allowing Christians to use the word “Allah” as everyone has the right to freedom of religion.However, in any decision, there will be an aggrieved party or parties. While everyone should respect High Court judge Nor Bee Ariffin’s decision, everyone should also respect the right to appeal.This is a substantive right, not a procedural right. Justice Gopal Sri Ram, then a judge of the Court of Appeal, in Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang v Lembaga Rayuan Negeri Pulau Pinang & Anor , delivering the judgment of the court, said as follows:“Now, the right of appeal is not a common law right either as a matter of private or public law. It is a creature of statute. If it is not given, then it does not exist. Once given, it is a substantive and not a mere procedural right. Support for these propositions may, if sought, be found in Chandrasekaran Thangavelu & Anor v AL Annamalai & Anor .”It is also said that appeal is the most obvious way in which individual judges are accountable for their decisions.It allows for an aggrieved party to have the decision of a judge to be reviewed by another independent judge or judges.The court hearing an appeal will correct errors by the lower court judge and the right of appeal ensures that, as far as possible, courts arrive at correct decisions.It is vital the right exists, and exercisable by aggrieved parties. It ensures that if a judge does make an error of law or fact, there are ways to correct it.In this sense the right of appeal as a form of explanatory accountability has two distinct (but overlapping) functions, one private and one public. These were first noted by the Roman legal scholar Justinian.The private function is to provide accountability to the individual litigants. The public function is that enabling errors to be corrected maintains and enhances the confidence of citizens in the justice system.Another aspect of the public function is that the appeal court can provide guidance for future cases and thus facilitate certainty. In these ways the right of appeal furthers the rule of law.So, let’s respect the High Court decision. Equally, let’s respect the right to appeal of aggrieved parties. – March 11, 2021.* Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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