MIRI (March 21): Native courts should aim at resolving cases within three years, or latest by five years, to ensure justice is carried out expeditiously and judiciously, said Deputy Minister in the Premier of Sarawak Department Datuk Gerawat Gala.
The Office of the Chief Registrar and the state government are concerned that 35 per cent of cases are categorised as ‘still outstanding’ (cases registered before 2015) at the various levels of the Native Courts, he added when officiating at the seminar on management of cases for Native Courts of Sarawak at a hotel here yesterday.
“All cases in native courts should be resolved within three years, or a maximum five years as KPI (key performance index) to be on par with the Civil Court or Shariah Court system,” he said.
He was responding to the statistics disclosed by Native Court chief registrar Datu Michael Dawi Alli in his speech, that there are 16,877 registered cases, of which 10,927 (64.7 per cent) have been settled while 5,950 (35.3 per cent) are still outstanding as of March this year.
The two-day seminar for District Officers (DOs) and Administrative Officers (SAOs), themed ‘Re-Invigorating the Native Courts of Sarawak’, is attended by 36 participants from the northern zone – Bintulu, Miri and Limbang – dealing with District Native Court (DNC) cases.
It is the first in a series of three seminars planned for this year. A similar seminar for the southern zone in Sri Aman and central zone in Sibu will be held in April and July respectively.
Chief Court cases under the supervision of district officers in their capacity as Registrar of district native courts account for 10,016 or 59.3 per cent out of the total number of cases. A total of 2,709 cases or 27 per cent of these cases are outstanding.
DOs presided over 3,582 DNC cases (or 21 per cent of the total number of registered cases) and over 35 per cent or 1,257 cases are still outstanding.
Currently, the backlog cases under the Headman Court, Chief Court and Chief Superior Court are directly under the supervision and management of the district officers, who are also the Court Registrars.
The deputy minister suggested that functions and responsibilities of the Native Courts which concern and affect the DOs and SAOs need review to meet the rising expectation of the people.
However, they will continue performing their statutory judicial duties under the Native Courts Ordinance 1992 pending the elevation of the Native Court that will require amendments to state and federal laws, and possibly the Federal Constitution.
Following the study which the government had completed and the final report that had been accepted and approved by the Steering Committee last September, a cabinet paper is currently being prepared.
“It is only after the State Cabinet had approved the recommendations in the Final Report that we can activate or commence in earnest the restructuring and elevation exercise,” he said.
Also present at the seminar were Native Courts of Appeal president Datu Thomas Akin Jeliman, Limbang Resident Unus Tambi, Bintulu Resident Nyurak Keti and Nora Shafia Muhiyuddin, representing Resident of Miri Division.