PUTRAJAYA: Putrajaya should not delay naming the new Chief Judge of Malaya (CJM), the third most senior position in the judiciary, so that administrative functions and duties could be executed by his subordinates smoothly, a lawyer said.
Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar Al Mahdzar said the present CJM Azahar Mohamed could not do much as he is holding the position temporarily.
“In my opinion, Azahar will be reluctant to deal with controversies following the recent arrest of a Sessions Court judge for alleged corruption,” he told FMT.
The CJM’s position has been vacant for two months following the retirement of Zaharah Ibrahim on May 16.
Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat in a letter addressed to judges and officers in the peninsula, had announced Azahar’s appointment in accordance with Section 9 (3)(a) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.
That provision states the chief justice could appoint a Federal Court judge to stand in if the CJM is unable to perform his functions and duties.
Syed Iskandar said it is a sad state of affairs to leave the position vacant as the bulk of magistrates, Sessions Court judges and judicial officers in the country come under the jurisdiction of the CJM.
FMT understands there are 146 magistrates and 135 Sessions Court judges under the supervision of the CJM.
“In the past, the CJM’s post was only left vacant for only a few weeks. We now have a lame duck CJM and it is bad for the judiciary,” Syed Iskandar said.
He said there is no shortage of suitable candidates.
“We do not know whether it is the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) or the Prime Minister’s Office which is dragging their feet,” he said.
Under Article 122B of the Federal Constitution, the Agong appoints judges on the advice of the prime minister after consulting the Conference of Rulers.
The nine-member JAC vets the candidates list before submitting them to the prime minister.
It was reported that Azahar and another Federal Court judge, Rohana Yusuf, were said to be in the running for the CJM’s post.