Cotabato judge disbarred for illegally dissolving marriages-A A +A
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
A TRIAL court judge in Cotabato City has been disbarred and ordered dismissed from service by the Supreme Court for gross misconduct and dishonesty over wrong decisions on annulment of marriage cases.
The court en banc unanimously ordered the dismissal from service of Cader Indar Al Haj, the presiding judge of the Cotabato City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 14 and acting Presiding Judge of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao RTC branch 15.
The High Court ordered the forfeiture of all of Indar's benefits due him, except accrued leave benefits, if any, with prejudice to re-employment in any branch of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
Indar was found guilty by the court for violation of Canons 1 and 7 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The SC likewise ordered his name to be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.
"Public office is a public trust. This constitutional principle requires a judge, like any other public servant and more so because of his exalted position in the Judiciary, to exhibit at all times the highest degree of honesty and integrity. As the visible representation of the law tasked with dispensing justice, a judge should conduct himself at all times in a manner that would merit the respect and confidence of the people. Judge Indar miserably failed to live up to these exacting standards," the decision stated.
The Supreme Court agreed with the findings of Court of Appeals Justice Abraham Borreta that Indar is guilty of misconduct and dishonesty for his "reprehensible act" of issuing decisions on annulment of marriage cases without complying with the stringent procedural and substantive requirements of the Rules of Court for such cases clearly violates the Code of Judicial Conduct.
In determining Indar's administrative liability, Borreta said the judge made it appear that the annulment cases underwent trial, when the records show no judicial proceedings occurred.
"Such malfeasance not only makes a mockery of marriage and its life-changing consequences but likewise grossly violates the basic norms of truth, justice, and due process. Not only that, Indar's gross misconduct greatly undermines the people's faith in the judiciary and betrays public trust and confidence in the courts. Indar's utter lack of moral fitness has no place in the judiciary," the Court said.
The court also said that Indar cannot argue that he was not given ample opportunity to controvert the charges against him.
The case stemmed from reports by the Local Civil Registrars of Manila and Quezon City to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) that they have received an alarming number of decisions, resolutions, and orders on annulment of marriage cases allegedly issued by Indar.
To verify the allegations, the OCA conducted a judicial audit in RTC Shariff Aguak branch 15, where the Audit Team found that the list of cases submitted by the Local Civil Registrars of Manila and Quezon City do not appear in the records of cases received, pending or disposed by RTC-Shariff Aguak branch 15.
Also, the annulment decisions did not exist in the records of RTC Cotabato, Branch 14.
The Audit Team led by Borreta further observed that the case numbers in the list submitted by the Local Civil Registrars are not within the series of case numbers recorded in the docket books of either RTC-Shariff Aguak or RTC-Cotabato.
At the same time, the Audit Team monitored Indar's compliance with Deputy Court Administrator (DCA) Jesus Edwin Villasoris 1st Endorsement, dated 15 February 2010, relative to the letter of Ms. Miren Galloway, Manager-Permanent Entry Unit, Australian Embassy, Manila (Australian Embassy letter), asking confirmation on the authenticity of the judge's decision, dated May 23, 2007, in Spec. Proc. No. 06-581, entitled "Chona Chanco Aguiling v. Alan V. Aguiling,” for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.
The Audit Team found that Spec. Proc. 06-584 does not exist in the records of cases filed, pending or disposed by RTC-Shariff Aguak. The findings of the Audit Team were then submitted to the High Court. (JCV/Sunnex)