“The judge cannot be the executioner. That is the basic principle of criminal law,” said Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan.
"Judges must understand their role and what they are and are not allowed to do as we have checks and balances and a separation of powers under the law."
Ragunath was commenting on the sentence passed by judge Zainal Abidin Kamarudin on Friday, who ordered sales promoter Muhammad Syafiq Abd Wahab, 20, to be caned 10 times in the court premises for gang robbery.
The caning would be carried out on July 15, in front of the offender’s parents. Additionally, the judge imposed a sentence of 200 hours of community service.
Zainal Abidin said that 10 “light cane strokes” would be administered as provided under the Criminal Procedure Code for young offenders.
Judge not trained to cane
Ragunath (right) said that the judge and the executioner has to be different people, adding that the judge was not trained to carry out the sentence.
Moreover, there are specific rules specifying how punishment should be meted out.
He said while the law allowed a judge to inflict corporal punishment, this had last been done over 30 years ago, with the High Court swiftly reprimanding the judge for doing so.
Chief Justice Zaki Azmi told the Star daily the planned caning would be investigated.
"I am asking the senior judge in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to look into it and take the appropriate action," he told the paper.Should there be no changes by Monday, Ragunath said that the Bar Council will apply for a revision of the ruling.