PETALING JAYA: A former Malaysian Bar president has opposed a lawyer’s suggestion that Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas review an earlier stand to declare as legal the appointments of two judges to remain in office beyond their retirement age.
Zainur Zakaria said it would be improper for Thomas to take such a stand just because there had been a change in the federal government.
He added that Thomas, the AG, was a member of the Bar.
“If he is to reconsider and withdraw the submission put forward by his officers, it will be seen as bias in favour of the Bar,” he told FMT.
He said Thomas had no choice but to defend the submissions put forward by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“Let the due process take its course. It is best for the judges to decide,” he said, adding that the Bar must have confidence in the judiciary as it had taken the matter to court.
Lawyer Baljit Sidhu said yesterday Thomas could review the
submissions in opposing the Bar and Sarawak Advocates Association’s (SAA) constitutional reference to the Federal Court on the appointments of Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.
He said this could be done as the Federal Court, which heard submissions on March 14, had yet to deliver its ruling.
Zainur said the matter was further complicated as Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had proposed that Thomas be appointed as AG, was also an interested party.
Last week, Mahathir’s appeal to declare the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli unconstitutional was vacated pending the outcome of the Federal Court ruling by a seven-member bench in a similar case brought by the Bar.
Meanwhile, retired Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram said it would be highly embarrassing for the judges who had heard the matter, and would put undue pressure on them to make a decision.
“Raus and Zulkefli should resign immediately without waiting for the decision. That is my respectful view,” he said.
Thomas was appointed as AG on Tuesday, replacing Mohamed Apandi Ali following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the May 9 polls.
The AG is the chief legal adviser to the government.
The legal fraternity has urged the bench, chaired by Hasan Lah, to expedite its ruling on whether Raus and Zulkefli should remain in their administrative posts.
The Bar had filed an originating summons on Oct 10, seeking several declarations and naming former chief justice Arifin Zakaria, Raus, Zulkefli and the then-government as respondents.
On Dec 19, the Kuala Lumpur High Court allowed the Bar’s move to get the Federal Court to determine the validity of Raus and Zulkefli’s appointments as additional judges, and for them to remain in their current administrative posts.
On Jan 29, the High Court in Kuching gave the green light for SAA to join the Bar’s challenge.
Arifin had advised the king to appoint Raus and Zulkelfi as additional judges a day before his retirement on March 31.
They were appointed as chief justice and Court of Appeal president on April 1, and were scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Sept 27 respectively upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 66 plus six months.
On July 7, however, the previous government announced that Raus 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.