KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — The resignations of the country’s two top judges is appropriate and a reminder that the judiciary should never betray the trust to uphold the Federal Constitution, a retired judge has said.
Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus, a retired Court of Appeal judge, was commenting on the announcement today that Tun Md Raus Sharif and Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin will be resigning as the Chief Justice and President of Court of Appeal from July 31.
“Let this episode be a reminder to all judges that they are there on trust to uphold the Constitution and on no occasion should they betray that trust by going against the Constitution,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.
“I think it’s appropriate that they should resign because the appointments are unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid in the first place,” he added.
When contacted, retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mah Weng Kwai noted that the duo had chosen to resign despite pending court matters challenging the constitutionality of their appointments.
Mah said Raus and Zulkefli’s resignation decision is also despite there being “no final decision” from the Federal Court yet on the legality of their appointments as additional judges holding the position of Chief Justice and President of Court of Appeal respectively.
“This is not withstanding that the decision in the Federal Court is still pending. So obviously they are not waiting for a decision of the Federal Court and they are still going ahead with their decision,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
Mah said the resignation of the duo has now made the court challenges against their positions “academic”, adding that those who had filed the court cases should now withdraw them.
Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said the resignations of the two judges was a “positive development” as their appointments had been contentious.
Ramkarpal, however, felt that the Federal Court’s pending decision on the Bar Council’s bid to challenge the constitutionality of the duo’s appointments has not become “academic.”
“I am of the view that the said Federal Court decision is not rendered academic as a result of the said resignations as it is necessary for a judicial pronouncement to be made as to the legality of such appointments in order to avoid a repetition of same in the future.
“The Federal Court must fix a date for decision of the said matter as soon as possible now in light of the said resignations,” said Ramkarpal, who is also Bukit Gelugor MP.
When contacted, retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said he saw the twin resignations as the “honourable thing to do” in the present circumstances when their positions “are being questioned at the highest level of the executive, the Bar and segments of civil society.”
“The Malaysian judiciary should be spared another unnecessary crisis.
“It will look worse should the impending Federal Court decision be adverse to them,” he told Malay Mail.
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.
They were initially scheduled to end their term as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal on August 3, 2017 and September 27, 2017 — which is also when they would hit the constitutional age limit of 66 years and six months old.
But the Prime Minister’s Office under Datuk Seri Najib Razak then had on July 7, 2017 announced the duo’s appointment as additional judges and the effective extension of their term as two of the country’s most powerful judges.