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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Zaki’s argument on judicial extension clouds issue, says Kit Siang

Former chief justice Zaki Azmi had argued that JAC is an extra-constitutional body and cannot replace provisions of the Federal Constitution.
kit-siangPETALING JAYA: DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has accused the government of acting improperly and unconstitutionally in extending the tenure of Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif as it was done without the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
The Gelang Patah MP claimed that former chief justice Zaki Azmi only added to the “murkiness” surrounding the extension in arguing that the JAC is an extra-constitutional body and cannot replace provisions of the Federal Constitution which does not require the prime minister to act on the JAC’s recommendations.
“The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali should explain whether they fully endorse Tun Zaki’s views that the JAC is an entirely irrelevant and inconsequential body,” Lim said in a statement today.
The DAP parliamentary leader claimed that the extension had especially affected the promotion opportunities and prospects of at least eight Federal Court judges, including three women.
Most importantly, it had denied the opportunity for Richard Malanjum, the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak, to be appointed as chief justice of Malaysia, he added.
In his column in the New Straits Times yesterday, Zaki said objections against the extension of the appointments of Raus as chief justice and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as president of the Court of Appeal were purely technical and reflected a “rigid and pedantic view” of Malaysia’s basic law.
He said Raus and Zulkefli, who were appointed to their posts only in April, would have had to vacate their high offices within just four months and six months respectively upon reaching the retirement age of 66 this year.
He said the purpose of the extensions was to enable continuity beyond Raus’ “incredibly short” stint as chief justice and Zulkefli’s as president.
Zaki also said the JAC is an “extra-constitutional body” although Section 21 of the Judicial Appointments Commission Act empowers it to recommend to the prime minister candidates for the posts of chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal.
“It is alleged that if the JAC had not recommended to the prime minister the reappointment of the chief justice and the president, then the prime minister’s advice to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was in violation of a mandatory procedural requirement,” he said.
Zaki said the JAC cannot replace or substitute the procedures and requirements of the Federal Constitution.
“The supreme constitution in Article 122B(1) on the appointment of judges does not require the prime minister to act on the recommendation of the JAC,” he said.
“In any case, the procedures of the JAC Act are not mandatory, but merely directory. The prime minister is not required to act on the JAC’s recommendations.
“The prime minister is not limited to the candidates recommended by the JAC,” he added. - FMT

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