KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Tun Raus Sharif and Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin should quit their positions as the country’s highest-ranking judges immediately and not wait until the end of next month, two former judges and a lawyer have said.
Retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus believes that the duo should not delay the quitting of their posts as Chief Justice of Malaysia and President of Court of Appeal respectively.
“I think it’s appropriate that they should resign because the appointments are unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid in the first place.
“And I think they should vacate the office immediately rather than wait for July 31,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.
Mohd Hishamudin said that their decisions — including empanelling or the selection of judges for panels to decide on court cases — are in doubt due to their alleged unlawful appointments, adding that the immediate quitting of their positions would prevent “more of this invalidity being incurred.”
“Because since their appointments, any decision they make, every ruling and every empanelling is unlawful and invalid and a nullity. So it is imperative that they must vacate the offices immediately,” he said.
He said all the decisions that Raus and Zulkefli made since their contentious appointments are going to “cause legal problems” and will need to be reviewed by the Federal Court.
“I think it is appropriate for the Federal Court to wait for the decision to be challenged by the parties and I anticipate that the decisions that they’ve made are likely going to be challenged,” he said.
Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, a retired Federal Court judge, also said both Raus and Zulkefli should leave their positions immediately.
“31 July is too long considering the fact that the legal profession, the public and the PM (not necessarily in that order) want them to go.
“Given that their appointments are under a cloud, they should go at once,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.
Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh also said that Raus and Zulkefli’s resignations “ought to be with immediate effect”, as it resulted from the controversy surrounding their appointments.
“Furthermore, it is not proper for the CJ and PCA to remain in their respective positions until 31.7.2018 if there is doubt as to the validity of their appointments,” he said in a statement today.
Ramkarpal, who is also DAP’s Bukit Gelugor MP, said that there are judges available to fill up their positions if the duo vacate their posts immediately.
“As such, there is absolutely no reason for such resignations to be delayed as there are other judges who are perfectly capable of immediately being appointed CJ and PCA respectively.
“In the circumstances, the said resignations ought to take effect immediately to pave the way for the legitimate appointment of a new CJ and PCA,” he said.
Earlier today, the Chief Registrar's Office said both Raus and Zulkefli had met with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to notify him of their intention to resign at a “reasonable date to enable all judicial matters to be resolved”.
Their resignation letters were sent on June 7 to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who granted royal assent on June 8 and with the royal assent notified through a June 11 letter from the palace.
The Chief Registrar's Office said their resignations will take effect on July 31.
Both Raus and Zulkefli had held their positions as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal since April 1, 2017, with their term for these positions controversially extended past their constitutional retirement age under the Najib administration.
Under the July 7, 2017 announcement by the Prime Minister's Office then under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Raus’s three-year extended term would have been due to end on August 4, 2020, while Zulkefli’s two-year extended term would have been due to end September 28, 2019.