In lawsuit, Malaysian Bar wants top judges removed over ‘unconstitutional’ appointments

Malaysian Bar president George Varughese (pictured) confirmed that a lawsuit has filed seeking the  removal of two of the country’s highest-ranking judges, claiming that they were unconstitutionally appointed. — File picture by Choo Choy May
Malaysian Bar president George Varughese (pictured) confirmed that a lawsuit has filed seeking the removal of two of the country’s highest-ranking judges, claiming that they were unconstitutionally appointed. — File picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — The Malaysian Bar has filed a lawsuit to seek the courts’ removal of two of the country’s highest-ranking judges, claiming that the duo were unconstitutionally appointed as Chief Justice and Court of Appeal president.

George Varughese, the Malaysian Bar’s president, confirmed today that the legal suit was filed on October 10 at the Kuala Lumpur High Court against Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif and his immediate predecessor Tun Arifin Zakaria, as well as Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

In a statement, Varughese said this lawsuit followed a resolution adopted by the Malaysian Bar — a professional body representing all lawyers in peninsular Malaysia — during its extraordinary general meeting on August 3.

He said the Malaysian Bar was seeking several court orders in this lawsuit, including a declaration that Arifin’s advice on March 30 while he was still the Chief Justice to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for Md Raus and Zulkefli to be appointed as additional judges to the Federal Court was “unconstitutional and void”.

The Malaysian Bar also wanted the court to declare that both Md Raus’s appointment as an additional judge as announced on July 7 and his subsequent appointment as Chief Justice from August 4 onwards were “unconstitutional and void”.

The Malaysian Bar also wanted a declaration that Arifin’s advice upon consultation as the then chief justice to the prime minister for Zulkefli to be appointed as Court of Appeal president was “unconstitutional and void”.

The professional body sought court declarations that both Zulkefli’s appointment as an additional judge and subsequent appointment as Court of Appeal president were “unconstitutional and void”.

The Malaysian Bar is also seeking for “orders removing YAA Tun Md Raus bin Sharif and YAA Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Zulkefli bin Ahmad Makinudin from their respective offices”, Varughese said.

Case management for this court case has been fixed on October 26, he said.

This court case come after the Prime Minister’s Office’s July 7 announcement on both Md Raus’s and Zulkefli’s appointments as “additional judges” beyond their age of 66 years and six months, which effectively extends their terms as two of the country’s most powerful judges.

The Malaysian Bar had objected to the duo’s appointments beyond their constitutional age limit.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also filed two separate lawsuits on August 9 and September 27 to push for the cancellation of the duo’s appointments.

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