Malaysian Bar seeks retired judges to hear its challenge on CJ’s appointment

Steven Thiru said he would be filing a formal application by next week. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng
Steven Thiru said he would be filing a formal application by next week. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 15 —The Malaysian Bar is seeking for a larger Federal Court panel comprising retired Federal Court judges to hear its constitutional challenge concerning the appointment of the country’s top two judges.

Lawyer Steven Thiru representing the Malaysian Bar told reporters that he would be filing a formal application by next week requesting for retired Federal Court judges to be appointed as additional judges to hear the case.

He said the Malaysian Bar was seeking for a least a nine-member bench to hear the matter.

Normally a five-member of judges would sit at the Federal Court to hear cases.

“We applied to say the Chief Judge of Malaya (Tan Sri Ahmad Ma’arop) should appoint additional judges under Article 122 (1A) to hear the matter and not sitting Federal Court judges to hear it,” he said adding the Malaysian Bar was requested to put in a formal application.

He said the Malaysian Bar had written to Chief Judge of Malaya on Aug 21 last year on the matter,  but there was no reply and it subsequently sent a reminder early this year.

Steven who was assisted by lawyer Farez Jinnah had attended a case management proceeding on the case today before Federal Court deputy registrar Jumirah Marzuki.

Also present were senior federal counsel Ahmad Terriruddin Mohd Salleh representing former Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin and the Government of Malaysia, while lawyer Ranbir Singh Sangha, who is the President of the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS), appeared for AAS.

Steven said the court had tentatively fixed March 2 to hear the Malaysian Bar’s application for retired judges to hear its matter and the hearing of its (the Malaysian Bar’s) reference of constitutional questions had been set on March 14.

He said the Malaysian Bar did not want to put the Federal Court judges in an embarrassing situation.

On Dec 19, last year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur allowed the Malaysian Bar’s application to refer five constitutional questions concerning the validity of Raus and Zulkefli’s appointments as additional judges and as Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President respectively after they had attained the mandatory retirement age of 66 years and six months.

In its originating summons filed last year, the Malaysian Bar sought a declaration that Arifin’s advice as the Chief Justice at the material time, to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on March 30 last year that Raus and Zulkefli be appointed as additional judges under Article 122(1A) of the Federal Constitution, was unconstitutional and void.

The Malaysian Bar also sought declarations that Raus and Zulkefli’s appointment as chief justice on Aug 4, last year and Court of Appeal President on Sept 28, last year respectively were null and void.

Early this year, the Kuching High Court also referred to the Federal Court the AAS’s legal challenge to the appointment of Raus and Zulkefli. — Bernama

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