According to Federal Court chief registrar Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, the number of judges in the country was low compared with other Commonwealth nations.
The Malaysian ratio is 2.4 judges to a million people — a far cry from the ratio in India (10.5 judges), Australia (57.1), Britain (50.1) and Canada (75).- 2.4 judges to a million people
The GTP reported that the toughest area to address was cases involving multiple stakeholders.
Backlogged cases are also generally much more difficult to address with some files stretching back to five years. Clearing the backlog of violent crime cases requires close cooperation between the courts, the Attorney-General's Chambers and police.
The criminal prosecution system has been strengthened through collaborative efforts between the Home Ministry and 30 other enforcement and relevant agencies.
They are looking into deterring the postponement of cases and to ensure that those out on bail do not commit more crimes.
Measures to facilitate the clearance of backlogged cases include:
- Increasing the number and efficiency of investigating officers (IO);
- Identifying high performing officers, hiring retired experienced officers and setting up flying squads;
- Setting up specialist teams of high performing judges; and,
- Accelerating the bill on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), implementing plea bargaining and tendering witness statements.
The Reducing Crime NKRA, led by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, is also looking into reducing the workload of IOs to five investigation papers a month.
Currently, IOs handle up to 20 investigation papers a month besides having to look into daily non-core tasks that could distract them from quality investigations.
Increasing the number of IOs in all police departments -- such as narcotics, traffic, forensics and criminal investigation -- by hiring retirees with good performance records will reduce the workload.
A bigger pool will also enable officers to become experts in certain types of cases and crimes.
Part of the NKRA is to train IOs to adhere to standard operating procedures when investigating violent crimes. This is to ensure that IOs gather the necessary evidence for a successful prosecution.
Other initiatives include setting up special courts for street crimes. Such cases will be subject to a new special code (J Code) by the police, the A-G's Chambers and the courts, to speeding up hearings.
Similarly, the workload of DPPs has been reduced to ensure quality prosecutions. They perform two tasks -- to clear investigation papers and conduct prosecutions.
The Reducing Crime NKRA seeks to develop a pool of specialist DPPs for effective prosecution.
Other measures include expanding the court recording and transcribing system to enhance efficiency.
Proceedings are recorded by typists and transcribers, making it easier for judges to approve their trial notes before distribution to lawyers.
Several improvements have been introduced to witness management to ensure their security.
These include separate entrances to prevent intimidation by the accused, as well as police handling to ensure the presence of witnesses in court.
To deter minor and first time offenders from repeating their offences, they are now subjected to tough community sentences designed to rehabilitate them. _ New Straits Times, 28/3/2011, Joint efforts see speedier disposal of court cases