Judges are chosen through collective decision and secret ballot, says CJ

(From left and seated) Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed, Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Court of Appeal president Rohana Yusuf and CJ Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah, with the eight judges elevated today.

PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat today said the appointment of judges to the superior courts is a collective decision of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

The top judge said every member of the JAC is entitled to one vote by secret ballot. In the event of a tie, the chairman will have the casting vote.

“So, the appointment of judges is not the choice of the chief justice alone but a decision made collectively by secret ballot,” said Tengku Maimun, who is also the JAC chairman.

She said this in her speech after witnessing the oath-taking ceremony of Court of Appeal president Rohana Yusuf and the elevation of eight other judges.

FMT understands Tengku Maimun made the clarification as there is a perception that those appointed recently are said to be close to her.

Apart from the chief justice, the Court of Appeal president and the chief judges of Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak are members of the JAC, by virtue of holding administrative positions.

The prime minister appoints a senior Federal Court judge and four other eminent persons to sit on the JAC.

Tengku Maimun also said no candidates would be considered for appointments and promotions if they fail in the selection criteria.

“This will include those who have three or more pending judgments that are overdue by 60 days or more from the date they are deemed to be due,” she said.

Tengku Maimun also repeated her calls that judges must at all times defend the doctrine of separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.

She also reminded them to follow the substantive and procedural laws in producing quality judgments.

“Written grounds are vital, especially to litigants who’ve lost their cases. It is also important for accountability and transparency,” she said.

She said judgments were not merely written as part of appeal records but were an integral part of judicial functions.

Tengku Maimun, who was made chief justice in May, also said producing quality judgments would be the criteria for promotion.

“However, the quality is not based on the length but based on analysing the issues, based on evidence and legal principles,” she added.

Zaleha Yusuf, Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim were elevated to the Federal Court.

Hadhariah Syed Ismail, M Nantha Balan and Abu Bakar Jais were promoted as Court of Appeal judges.

Judicial commissioners Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah and Azmi Abdullah were confirmed as High Court judges.