Insulate judges from the selection process by politicians — Proham

OCTOBER 13 — The recent announcement by the prime minster to have future candidates for judges to be vetted by a Parliamentary Select Committee raises the question as to what is the ideal process for the selection of judges.

We seek a process that not only strengthens the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law but ensures that the three branches of government are independent of each other. 

This proposal to form a Parliamentary Select Committee can been viewed as political over-reach that may suffer from partisan parliamentary committee votes. 

We appreciate the government’s receptivity to have parliamentary oversight in a number of matters. However, the selection of judges must be insulated from this selection process by politicians. 

Never again should there be a perception that the judiciary is beholden to the Executive or parliament; The judiciary is answerable only to the Federal Constitution. 

Proham itself seconds the proposal of enhancing the status and composition of the Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC) and that the JAC be made an independent constitutional body. 

The following principles must drive the selection of competent persons who will sit on the bench to exercise their responsibilities with independence, impartiality and integrity. 

The appointment of members of JAC must be transparent and the appointing authority should not be the Executive. The membership should comprise the Chief Justice and judges; however, judges should not dominate the membership to prevent cronyism in the selection process of judges for promotion. 

JAC members can be drawn from other professional and lay backgrounds. Furthermore it is encouraged that the membership of the JAC be diverse in terms of race, gender, professional and life experience. 

It should then follow that the Federal Constitution be amended to allow the JAC to be the body recommending the appointment of judges to the Yang di-Pertuan Agung. 

In our view, the doctrine of separation of powers must be upheld, the Legislature (namely parliament) and the Executive should not be involved in the appointment of judges. 

* Proham is the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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