PUTRAJAYA, Nov 29 ― The confirmation of judicial commissioners as High Court judges was made on their performance and the issue of one’s loyalty to anyone did not arise, said Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

She said she was aware that certain quarters were stating their fear that the appointment of Judicial Commissioners for a specific period became a test of loyalty before the government decided on whether the person appointed deserved permanent appointment as a fully-fledged judge with tenure.

Tengku Maimun, however, pointed out that the issue of loyalty to anyone also did not arise.

On the other hand, she said the confirmation of judicial commissioners as High Court judges was based on their performance including their ability in managing and discharging cases, having good judicial attitude and producing quality grounds for judgement.

“Any Judicial Commissioner who failed to achieve the performance according to the set criteria would not have his or her services continued after a period of two years,” she said in her speech at the oath-taking and swearing-in of 13 Judicial Commissioners.

She said the Judicial Appointment Commission had made a resolution that the appointment of the Judicial Commissioner was for a period of two years and the confirmation or appointment as a High Court Judge subsequently would be made based on the performance of the particular Judicial Commissioner.

Tengku Maimun also reminded the Judicial Commissioners that in deciding court cases, no one could direct or influence them to make certain decisions.

The task of making decisions rested fully in the hands of the Judicial Commissioner, she said.

Tengku Maimun said the decision made by the Judicial Commissioner must be based on the evidence available, without favouring any side, free from internal and external pressures including from superior powers, the media, any individual or other judges.

She said that in the context of Judicial Commissioners deciding on cases, she, the President of the Appeals Court, Chief Judge of Malaya and the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak as is usual for a chief of any agency to give any instruction to a junior staff.

“But we are merely ‘the first among the equals’ in the hierarchy of the Judiciary. Thus, there is no question of a Judicial Commissioner showing loyalty to the boss, what more to the government before being appointed as a High Court Judge,” said Tengku Maimun.

She said the Judicial Commissioner only needed to be loyal to the judicial principles.

At the event, 13 people including former president of the Bar Council, George Varughese, were appointed as Judicial Commissioners. All of them received their letters of appointment from Tengku Maimun.

Eleven individuals including Varughese, 56, took their oaths of office and loyalty before the Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed while two others namely Wong Siong Tung, 56, and Leonard David Shim, 54, took their oaths of office and loyalty before the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri David Wong Dak Wah.

The others were Datuk Aslam Zainuddin, 54, Datuk Norsharidah Awang, 58, Datuk Julie Lack, 57, Datuk Fredrick Indran X.A. Nicholas, 59, Khairil Azmi Mohamad Hasbie,  53, Nadzarin Wok Nordin, 57, Quay Chew Soon, 56, Wong Hok Chong, 50, Atan Mustaffa Yussof Ahmad, 50 and Anand Ponnudurai, 53. ― Bernama