KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — The top two judges currently holding the posts of Chief Justice and Court of Appeal president took their oaths of office according to the requirements of the Federal Constitution, the judiciary’s administrative arm said today.
The Chief Registrar’s Office of the Federal Court confirmed that both Tun Md Raus Sharif and Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin had fulfilled the constitutional requirements to be appointed to two of the most senior positions in the country’s judiciary.
“With this, the Federal Court of Malaysia’s Chief Registrar’s Office states that the Chief Justice of Malaysia and the Court of Appeal President had taken their oaths of office as Additional Judges for the Federal Court before they took their oaths of office as the Chief Justice of Malaysia and Court of Appeal President in line with the provisions of the Federal Constitution,” it said in a statement issued by its corporate communications unit.
The Chief Registrar’s Office said that Raus had on August 4 taken his oath of office as an additional judge for the Federal Court at the Palace of Justice before Zulkefli in the latter’s position as Court of Appeal president.
Raus — whose first term as Chief Justice had then just ended on August 3 —- then also on August 4 subsequently took his oath of office as Chief Justice before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara.
The Chief Registrar said this was in line with the Federal Constitution’s Article 124(4) that states that a person taking the oath to be a Federal Court judge “shall do so in the presence of the Chief Justice or, in his absence, the next senior judge available of the Federal Court”.
Zulkefli as the Court of Appeal president is the second most high-ranking judge after Raus.
In the same statement, the Chief Registrar said Zulkefli had taken his oath of office as additional judge for the Federal Court on September 28 before Raus in the latter’s capacity as Chief Justice, noting that this was in line with Article 124(4).
The Chief Registrar said Zulkefli had on the same day taken his oath of office as Court of Appeal president before senior Court of Appeal judge Datuk Wira Mohtarudin Baki, noting that this was also in line with the Constitution’s Article 124(2A) which required an individual to take the oath to be Court of Appeal president before a senior judge from the Court of Appeal.
The press statement was issued in response to news portal Free Malaysia Today’s September 29 report titled “Lawyer: Did Raus, Zulkefli take oath as additional judges?”.
The “additional judges” referred to in the press statement are the additional judges that may be appointed to the Federal Court, beyond the constitutional allocation for the Federal Court of 12 judges — eight judges and four holding the positions of Chief Justice, Court of Appeal president, Chief Judge of Malaya, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak.
The Prime Minister’s Office had on July 7 announced the appointment of Raus and Zulkefli as “additional judges”, effectively extending their terms as two of the country’s most powerful judges. The legal community had objected to this.
Raus was then announced to be the Chief Justice for another three years from August 4, while Zulkefli was to continue serving as the Court of Appeal president for another two years from September 28. Their continued terms would exceed what lawyers say is the constitutional retirement age of 66 years and six months.
Both previously had their services as judges extended for another six months after hitting the age of 66, with Raus’ term extended from February 4 to August 3, while Zulkefli’s term was extended from March 28 until September 27.