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Lawyer tells AG: Defend top judicial appointments in court

 | November 24, 2017

It is a tradition in the Commonwealth jurisdiction for the government's chief legal adviser to come to court to defend his client, says Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

Mohamed-Haniff-Khatri-Abdulla-Mohamed-Apandi-Ali-anwar-ibrahim-court-1PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyer has urged Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali to lead government lawyers when the Federal Court on Monday hears an application by Anwar Ibrahim to disqualify a senior judge.

Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said it was a tradition in the Commonwealth jurisdiction for the government’s chief legal adviser to appear in court to defend his client.

“This is especially so when there is a constitutional crisis brewing following the re-appointments of the Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President (COA),” Haniff said in a blog posting.

Two weeks ago, Anwar filed a review application to disqualify Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who led a three-man bench that refused the opposition leader the right to be present in court to follow his civil case against the Election Commission (EC).

Anwar, who is serving a five-year jail term for sodomy, is appealing a ruling that the EC is not required to facilitate voting rights for prisoners.

Anwar said Zulkefli’s appointment, both as additional judge and his reappointment as COA president, was against provisions in the Federal Constitution.

The government, on July 7, announced that Chief Justice Raus Sharif would remain in office for another three years from Aug 4, while Zulkefli would remain in his post for another two years from Sept 28.

Both were appointed as chief justice and COA president on April 1 and were scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Sept 27 respectively, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 66 years and six months.

Apandi had previously said the reappointment of Raus and Zulkefli were made in accordance with provisions in the constitution.

Mahathir wrote to the Federal Court yesterday seeking permission to participate in the review proceedings by Anwar either as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) or to hold a watching brief and address the court on the subject matter.

On Nov 6, Justice Azizah Nawawi dismissed Mahathir’s judicial review to revoke the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli on grounds the prime minister had no legal duty under the constitution to advise the king to revoke the appointments.

Mahathir has filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, Haniff, in the same blog post, said he disagreed with Apandi’s view that the perception of judicial independence took a beating in 1988 when Mahathir was prime minister.

In an opinion piece carried by Umno-linked daily Berita Harian yesterday, Apandi stressed that things had changed since then.

“It must be admitted that judicial independence was badly impacted when the then Lord President and Supreme Court judges were sacked in 1988 which also led to the 2002 judicial fixing scandal.

“However, the appointment of senior judges became more transparent with the introduction of the Judicial Appointments Commission in 2009,” Apandi had said.

Haniff claimed the judiciary was now in its most major crisis since Merdeka as Prime Minister Najib Razak had interfered to see the reappointment of Raus and Zulkefli.

The lawyer also listed three court rulings from high profile cases made in favour of Najib or the establishment.


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