PETALING JAYA: A seven-member Federal Court bench must deliver a decision on the constitutionality of the appointments of Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal (COA) president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin for future guidance, a retired judge said.
Varghese George said any ruling could not be academic just because Raus and Zulkefli would not be in office following their decision to resign effective July 31.
“What more, this is a constitutional issue with serious implications for future guidance and as a precedent, which has been properly brought before the highest court of the land for a decision,” he told FMT.
He said this in response to the widely-held belief among the legal fraternity that the validity of Raus and Zulkefli’s appointments was academic since they are resigning.
George, who retired as Court of Appeal judge last year, said all points for and against the appointments had been fully ventilated and argued.
“The highest court of the land should not abdicate its judicial authority to make a reasoned ruling one way or other in such a unique and admittedly unprecedented situation,” he said.
George said this was not a case where the parties who brought the challenge were withdrawing or abandoning their position.
Raus and Zulkefli were appointed as CJ and COA president on April 1 last year and were scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Sept 27 respectively upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 66 plus six months.
The government, however, announced on July 7 that both had been made additional judges and Raus would remain in office as CJ for another three years from Aug 4, while Zulkefli as COA president for another two years from Sept 28.
The Malaysian Bar filed its legal challenge on Oct 10 last year while the Advocates Association of Sarawak on Jan 29 .
On March 14, the bench led by Hasan Lah heard the constitutional reference made by the Malaysian Bar and the Advocates Association of Sarawak.
Other bench members are Zainun Ali, Ramly Ali, Zaharah Ibrahim, Balia Yusof Wahi, Aziah Ali and Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers had defended the appointments.
On June 13, the Chief Registrar’s Office issued a statement that Raus and Zulkefli will resign on July 31 after completing their judicial duties.