PETALING JAYA: A former judge has called for the setting up of an independent selection committee to appoint members to the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
Hishamudin Yunus said apart from three serving judges, JAC members should be chosen by the independent selection committee.
He also said the number of JAC members should be expanded from nine to 15, or even more, to ensure diverse representation of interests within the commission.
“There should be a substantial number of lay members who are appointed by the selection committee,” the retired Court of Appeal judge told FMT.
Hishamudin said the JAC chairman should preferably be a lay member.
He said anyone interested in being part of the commission should be allowed to apply through the selection committee.
He was commenting on a suggestion by the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, who said the prime minister should not be allowed to appoint JAC members.
Chairing the 260th meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara yesterday, Tuanku Muhriz said there were weaknesses in the process of appointing judges that could be resolved.
He proposed that five appointments to the JAC not be made by the prime minister to ensure the commission’s independence in carrying out its duties.
Hishamudin, who is also a former JAC member, said he fully supported Tuanku Muhriz’s proposal.
He said a mixture of legally trained and non-legally trained persons should be in the JAC to appoint and promote judges to the superior courts.
Those with law qualifications who could be considered for the JAC were serving judges, former judges, former attorneys-general, lawyers and legal academics.
Those with no legal expertise should be represented by a diverse group of people, such as consumer and trade unions, as well as human rights and corporate figures.
Currently, the prime minister is empowered to appoint a sitting Federal Court judge and four eminent persons to the JAC.
The JAC comprises nine members – four top judicial administrators led by the chief justice, as well as a senior Federal Court judge and four other eminent persons, who are appointed by the prime minister.
The chief justice, the Court of Appeal president and the two chief judges (High Court of Malaya, and Sabah and Sarawak) will automatically feature in the JAC by virtue of holding administrative posts.