Bar council says it will challenge ruling that they cannot question the judiciary Leading lawyers and opposition leaders yesterday dismissed as 'nonsense' a High Court judgment on Monday that barred the Malaysian Bar Council from protesting against perceived acts of judicial misconduct because they amounted to 'sedition and contempt of court'. Council officials said they disagreed with the judgment and would file an immediate appeal. 'The Bar Council will meet soon to frame an in-depth reply,' one official said. Rights lawyers also strongly criticised the judgment, saying it 'seriously curbs' a basic right of lawyers and citizens to hold judges accountable and question their judgments. 'The argument is sheer nonsense ... it is a serious violation of fundamental rights,' said lawyer Sivarasah Rasiah, who is also a founding director of Suaram, a prominent human rights advocacy group. 'It is a violation of every citizen's right to freedom of expression.' High Court Judge R.K. Nathan ruled that an emergency meeting the council organised in November 1999 to discuss the conduct of then chief justice Runoff Chin, now retired, went against the Legal Profession Act 1976 and amounted to 'contempt of court and was seditious and unconstitutional'. A lawyer applied to stop the council's meeting and was granted an interim injunction. The council appealed, arguing it had a right to organise meetings and discuss the misconduct of judges. On Monday, Judge Nathan rejected the appeal, giving the lawyer a permanent injunction. He said the council should resolve differences with judges in their chambers and over 'a cup of tea'. Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said the judgment was a reminder that judicial accountability, transparency and independence remain the 'most pressing unfinished business' in Malaysia. 'It is a wake-up call that the end of Mahathir Mohamad's rule does not change anything ... citizens have to fight for their rights and always remain vigilant,' he said.