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Saturday, July 30, 2016

CJ wants to split magistrates and DPP

Chief Justice Ariffin says Judicial Service and Legal Service should be separate to avoid giving AG undue influence.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Chief Justice has called for the separation of the Judicial Service and Legal Service, in order that the Attorney-General was not seen to have undue influence over appointments to subordinate courts.
Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria suggested that the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court should, instead, be administrative head of a separated Judicial Service and the Attorney-General for the Legal Service.
At present legal officers, whether magistrates or prosecutors, are appointed by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, a unified service commission that handles service matters such as appointments, discipline, and promotions.
Administratively, they are legal officers and come under the purview of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“If the AG continues to be at the head of both services, I worry it would create a negative perception of the judiciary’s independence; an opinion many parties share,” said Arifin in a speech at the judicial officers conference here.
Speaking to reporters later he said that people who disagreed with a particular court judgement might say the magistrates were toeing the line with the AG’s Chambers as they were, in effect, part of the same body.
“Imagine if a senior officer from the AGC or even the AG himself was prosecuting. Lagi menggeletar (they’ll be even more nervous),” he said.
The Chief Registrar, Latifah Mohd Tahar, told reporters that a paper on the separation of the service commission had been sent to the commission. A decision might be taken within the year.
Those appointed as legal officers by the commission may be posted as magistrates and judges of the sessions court (the Judicial Service) or as senior federal counsel and deputy public prosecutors (the Legal Service) and may serve in either branch.
The Attorney-General is a member of the commission, together with the heads of the High Court of Malaya, the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Court of Appeal, and a judge from each court.
(Judges themselves are appointed by an independent Judicial Appointments Commission headed by the chief justice.)
However, administratively the Attorney-General is head of both services, which come under the purview of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

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