Bar to challenge appointments of Raus, Zulkefli

george-1KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar will file a suit to challenge the appointments of Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as additional judges to remain in their posts.

Bar president George Varughese said the legal action would be made “very soon”.

“Whether the suit will be by way of a judicial review or quo warranto will be left to our lawyers, but it is unprecedented,” he said.

He said this at a press conference after members who attended the Bar’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) today voted in a resounding majority that the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli were unconstitutional.

Raus’ tenure is for three years from tomorrow, while Zulkefli will remain in his current administrative post for two years from Sept 28.

Raus is scheduled to retire today and Zulkefli on Sept 27 after reaching the mandatory retirement age.

A total of 993 members attended the meeting held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here.

Varughese said the Bar also took the position that serving Federal Court judges should not hear the matter since they would be in a position of conflict of interest.

“We therefore call upon the Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Maarop to advise the king under Article 122 (1A) of the Federal Constitution to appoint persons who had held high judicial office as additional judges for the sole purpose of hearing and determining the said legal challenge,” he said.

Varughese said Ahmad could invoke Article 131A, read together with Section 9 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, which allows the most senior judge to exercise the powers of the chief justice during his incapacity or absence.

Yesterday, a retired judge had spoken of the proposal to FMT to decide the positions of Raus and Zulkefli.

He said due to the disability of Raus and Zulkefli, Ahmad, as the next most senior judge in the judiciary, could step in to exercise the powers of the chief justice and advise the king.

Varughese said a bench of seven or nine judges could be empanelled due to the nature of the case.

He said the EGM had also decided that the Bar would not extend invitations to Raus and Zulkefli, or attend social events involving them.

“This resolution is similar to the one adopted following the 1988 judicial crisis.

“It is a form of protest to show our discontentment with the unconstitutional appointments. However, we are not personally against Raus and Zulkefli,” he said.

He said the nature of the social events would be decided by the Bar Council which manages the affairs of the Bar.

“But we will engage the judiciary in official matters like attending the rules committee meetings,” he said.

Four weeks ago, the government appointed Raus and Zulkefli as additional judges.

The king, on the advice of the prime minister and after consulting the Conference of Rulers which met in May, also reappointed Raus and Zulkefli to remain in their present posts.

Most lawyers and retired judges are of the view that no Federal Court judge can remain in his administrative post after reaching 66 years and six months of age.

Yesterday, Pakatan Harapan leaders submitted a memorandum to the king, seeking his intervention to stop the re-appointments of Raus and Zulkefli, which they also claimed were unconstitutional.