Dr M to appeal against appointments of ex-top judges

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who filed a legal challenge against the appointments of two former top judges last year, will pursue his appeal despite the Federal Court’s refusal to make a ruling, his lawyer says.

Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the Court of Appeal had fixed Jan 14 to hear Mahathir’s appeal against the High Court ruling.

“Mahathir is proceeding with the appeal on grounds that he needs the highest court to interpret the necessary provisions of the constitution,” he told reporters after a case management before deputy registrar Norazihah Asmuni today.

On Sept 24, a six-member Federal Court bench declined to rule on the constitutionality of the decision to extend the tenures of former chief justice Raus Sharif and ex-Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

Zainun Ali, who delivered the unanimous judgment, said there was no dispute as Raus and Zulkefli were no longer in office and their replacements had been made.

Justice Richard Malanjum was appointed as chief justice on July 11 while Ahmad Maarop was made Court of Appeal president.

On May 31, Mahathir’s appeal hearing to declare the appointments of Raus and Zulkelfi unconstitutional was vacated pending the outcome of the Federal Court ruling.

The apex court had heard submissions from the relevant parties on March 14 but deferred its decision.

Mahathir filed two judicial reviews in August and September last year, seeking to compel former prime minister Najib Razak to advise the king to revoke the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli as additional judges as well as chief justice and Court of Appeal president.

On Nov 6, however, the High Court dismissed Mahathir’s leave for judicial review application on grounds that it was frivolous, saying he had no arguable case to obtain a mandamus order to revoke the judges’ appointments.

Haniff today said it was unlikely that the Court of Appeal would allow Mahathir’s appeal as it was bound by the recent apex court decision.

“But we will go to the Federal Court to revisit the case and get the necessary interpretation on the appointments of additional judges and whether those who have retired can continue to hold administrative posts,” he said.

Outgoing chief justice Arifin Zakaria said he had proposed to the king on March 30 last year that Raus and Zulkefli be appointed as additional judges after their retirement.

Raus and Zulkelfi were appointed as chief justice and Court of Appeal president on April 1.

They had been scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Sept 27 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 66 plus six months.

However, on July 7, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement extending Raus’ tenure for three years from Aug 4 and Zulkefli’s for two years from Sept 28.