Top judges quit, but legal challenge remains

George Varughese and Ranbir Singh say the application to the Federal Court will remain.

PETALING JAYA: A court challenge against the appointment of two top judges is to be continued although both the judges have resigned and will step down on July 31.

The Bar Council and the Sarawak Advocates’ Association have sought a Federal Court decision on whether the appointment of Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin was constitutional.

“We will pursue and will not withdraw the application,” Bar Council president George Varughese told FMT. Similarly, AAS president Ranbir Singh Sangha said the association would not back off.

On March 14, a seven-member Federal Court bench chaired by Justice Hasan Lah heard submissions to decide whether Raus and Zulkefli had been lawfully appointed as additional judges under the constitution.

The court was also asked to decide whether the position of additional judges allowed them to remain in their administrative posts.

The questions posed to the Federal Court are: whether an additional judge can be appointed after the judge’s retirement date; whether an additional judge can be appointed as Chief Justice or Court of Appeal president; whether the courts could pass judgement on the appointment of judges by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong; and whether the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli had violated the Federal Constitution.

Raus and Zulkelfi were appointed as additional judges of the Federal Court a day before Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria retired on March 31.

The next day they were appointed as CJ and COA president respectively. They were scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Sept 27 respectively but the government extended the contracts for Raus by three years and Zulkefli’s for two years.

The other six judges on the Federal Court bench hearing the case are Justices Zainun Ali, Ramly Ali, Zaharah Ibrahim, Balia Yusof Wahi, Aziah Ali and Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin.