New Chief Justice wants balloting method for judges selection in Federal Court

MURNI WAN OMAR

PUTRAJAYA: The new Chief Justice, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, has proposed selection by balloting for the panel of Federal Court judges to hear cases in the Federal Court. This is to avoid any allegation and negative elements in the allocation of cases as well as the selection of the panel of judges, he said at the Palace of Justice, today. In his first speech since being sworn in as the Chief Justice yesterday, he said the formation of the Federal Court panel must be based on the cases scheduled. “For example, cases which involve the interests of the Constitution would be heard by a panel of nine members comprising four senior judges and five Federal Court judges. “Cases of public interest, meanwhile, would be heard by a panel of seven members consisting of four senior judges and three Federal Court judges, based on balloting. Appeal cases will be heard by five members made up of one senior judge and four panelists selected via balloting.” Currently, the Chief Justice selects the Federal Court panel of judges to hear cases. Also, currently, the Federal Court panel which hears appeal cases and review applications comprises five judges while the panel which hears the applications for leave to appeal comprises three judges. Malanjom was speaking at the swearing in of the Court of Appeal president and the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak. Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop was sworn in as the Court of Appeal president while Datuk David Wong Dak Wah was sworn in as the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak. It was also announced at the event that Federal Court judge, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim would be appointed as the Chief Judge of Malaya. However, her swearing-in ceremony would be held soon as she is currently abroad. Malanjum earlier said he would be adopting a new approach in helming the judiciary, among which includes restructuring the body. “The concept will be that of a joint and group management, where the judges holding the top four posts (Chief Justice, Court of Appeal president, Chief Judge of Malaya, and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak) are given equal power and responsibility in all matters pertaining to policy and inclusion in the management of the judiciary." Malanjum said he will create an internal management system that is precise, as well as introduce a ‘time sheet’. “I introduced this system two years ago in the Sabah and Sarawak courts. The computerised system is meant to encourage more effective management of the court’s time among judges and judiciary officers. “The reason why this system was devised was because some judges were accused of playing truant, despite there being no evidence of this. Since the system was introduced, we no longer heard such complaints,” he said. Also present at the event were former Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif and Tun Arifin Zakaria, former Court of Appeal president Judge Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, as well as Attorney-General Tommy Thomas. The new appointments came about following Md Raus’ resignation as Chief Justice and Zulkifli’s withdrawal as Court of Appeal president. Md Raus and Zulkefli both resigned their posts after obtaining the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on June 8.

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