KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council was ‘glad to note’ the resignations of Tun Raus Sharif and Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as chief justice (CJ) and president of the Court of Appeal (PCA), respectively.
Council president George Varughese said it takes their resignations as concessions that their appointments had been wrong in the first place.
“Since Raus and Zulkefli have resigned well before the completion of their terms of office, and since no reason has (to our knowledge) been provided, it can be presumed that they now concede that their appointments... were in breach of the Federal Constitution.
“As Raus (the then CJ) and Zulkefli (the then PCA) were first appointed as additional judges of the Federal Court, and thereafter to continue as CJ and PCA, respectively, this begs the question whether they have also resigned as additional judges.
“The Malaysian Bar has at all times taken the position that the appointments — as additional judges, and to continue to hold the positions of CJ and PCA — were blatantly unconstitutional.
“It is for this reason that we had at the outset called upon both Raus and Zulkefli to decline the appointments as additional judges, and to continue to hold the positions of CJ and PCA, and consequently filed a legal action seeking declarations that the said appointments are unconstitutional and void,” he said in a statement.
Varughese added that the council now reiterated its call upon Raus and Zulkefli to vacate their positions as additional judges, as well as their positions as CJ and PCA, respectively, with immediate effect, instead of continuing to remain in office until July 31.
“The appointment of positions of high judicial office must always be beyond reproach. The failure of Raus and Zulkefli to heed the widespread disquiet surrounding their appointments undermined the status and stature of their offices.
“This caused the erosion of public trust and confidence in the independence of the judiciary, and their insistence on accepting their appointments as additional judges, and as CJ and PCA, has done the nation a great disservice.”
Varughese said the judicial branch of government must always be “truly independent”, in order to uphold the Federal Constitution and promote fidelity to the rule of law.
“The Malaysian Bar views these resignations as a precursor to judicial reform and the strengthening of the independence of the judiciary.” © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd