Friday, November 27, 2015   

Top judge vows independent, fearless courts

Winnie Chong

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao- li has pledged the Judiciary will remain fearless and independent, but said courts should not be politicized.

"I am often asked about the independence of the Judiciary and what evidences the existence of the independence of the Judiciary in Hong Kong," Chief Justice Ma said yesterday at the ceremonial opening of the legal year.

"There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Hong Kong has a fearless and independent Judiciary."

While the Basic Law guarantees an independent Judiciary, he said the transparent practice that judges are obliged to give their reasons for their judgments is another guarantee that the Judiciary will continue to be independent.

Chief Justice Ma said that although the courts on occasion deal with the legal questions arising out of political matters, the courts and their activities should not to be politicized.

"The courts and judges will at all times adhere only to the law and to its spirit," he said.

"The courts are mandated to apply not just the content of the law but, sometimes more importantly, its spirit. No one, no institution, is above the law."

Speaking at the same event, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said he is committed to upholding the rule of law.

But Yuen added: "If there are important legal issues that require resolution, a responsible government should have the courage and determination to have the legal issue properly adjudicated by the judicial process irrespective of the
divergent opinions such a step may generate."

Yuen recently sparked controversy after he applied for the Court of Final Appeal to consider asking for a Beijing clarification of the right of abode in an upcoming case involving overseas domestic helpers.

Commenting for the first time on the issue, Chief Justice Ma said it is lawful for the National People's Congress to seek legal interpretation.

The Court of Final Appeal also has the right to invite the NPC for an interpretation.

Chief Justice Ma also rejected suggestions that overseas judges should be excluded from the Court of Final Appeal.

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