Ramkarpal: Raus, Zulkefli appointments unconstitutional because they are incumbents

Ramkarpal-Singh-Arifin-ZakariaPETALING JAYA: Prominent lawyer and DAP politician Ramkarpal Singh has questioned former chief justice Arifin Zakaria’s advice to the Agong to appoint two sitting judges as additional judges to extend their tenure beyond their retirement this year.

Echoing the Bar Council’s view that the move was unconstitutional, the Bukit Gelugor MP said Arifin should not recommend Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin to be made additional judges as they were still on the bench.

He said Article 122 (1A) of the Federal Constitution states that the Agong, on the advice of the chief justice, may appoint any person who “has held high judicial office in Malaysia” for a specific period or purpose.

Ramkarpal said it was based on this provision that former Federal Court judge Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa was reappointed to the bench in July last year, seven months after his retirement.

“Tan’s appointment under Article 122(1A) is perfectly valid as he was not a sitting Federal Court judge when he was appointed as an additional judge of the Federal Court,” he said in a statement.

The Prime Minister’s Office last night confirmed its decision to retain Raus for another three years as chief justice, and Zulkefli as Court of Appeal president for another two years.

It said the decision was based on Article 122B(1) of the Federal Constitution, and was on the suggestion of Arifin before he retired last March, to the Agong.

Raus was scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Zulkefli on Sept 27, after reaching the age of 66 years and six months.

The move was slammed by the Bar Council as “blatantly unconstitutional”, with plans for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) next month.

Ramkarpal said from a non-legal point of view, the extensions could not inspire confidence and seemed to suggest that no other judges were qualified to replace Raus and Zulkefli.

“Apart from being unprecedented, the said extensions are certainly unnecessary and a step in the wrong direction in the development of the judiciary,” he said.

Ramkarpal added that Raus and Zulkefli should decline the extensions as there was a strong likelihood of legal challenge.