KUALA LUMPUR: Embattled Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad have met with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed to resign from their posts.
A statement issued from the Palace of Justice this morning said the resignation will take effect on July 31.
“The Chief Justice and Court of Appeal president have notified the Prime Minister for the resignation to take effect at a reasonable date for pending judiciary work to be completed,” it said.
The judges have sent their resignation letters to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on June 7 and got a reply consenting to their resignation on June 11.
In a report by Malaysiakini, Tun Daim Zainuddin had allegedly demanded the resignations of Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, claimed Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
The former Federal Court judge claimed that this was “an open secret” that happened during a meeting at Daim’s private office.
When Daim faced a backlash for demanding them to step down, Mahathir defended him by saying the head of Council of Eminent Persons had not overstepped his limits.
Meanwhile, members of the legal fraternity have welcomed this development regarding the highest courts in the country. Most are in agreement that the appointment of the duo contradicted the Federal Constitution, thus rendering it null and void.
Lawyer Erik Paulsen, executive director of Lawyers for Liberty, called the resignations as truly excellent news for “Malaysia Baru”.
“The judiciary has been under a cloud of controversy for so long, and made worse by Raus’ and Zulkefli’s unconstitutional re-appointments. Now reforms must be done to ensure that the judiciary becomes truly independent,” he told theSun.
“A key area is the Judicial Appointments Commission, it must be revamped, so that judges are appointed and promoted based on seniority and merit. The composition of the JAC must also change, to include representatives from the Bar Council and civil society,” he added.
Lawyer Syahredzan Johan, who is currently DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary, said that because their appointments contradicted the Federal Constitution, their resignations are the best solution to the matter.
“I hold to the Malaysian Bar’s resolution on Aug 3, 2017 that as the Chief Justice and Court of Appeal president exceeded the age limit of 66 years and 6 months as set in the Constitution, their appointment was invalid. Thus, their decision to step down has prevented a constitutional crisis which could affect the development of the country,” he said in a statement.
Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, who is Bukit Gelugor MP, opined that the resignations ought to take place with immediate effect.
“It is not proper for the CJ and PCA to remain in their respective positions until July 31 if there is doubt as to the validity of their appointments,” he said in a statement.
“I am of the view that the said Federal Court decision is not rendered academic as a result of the said resignations as it is necessary for a judicial pronouncement to be made as to the legality of such appointments in order to avoid a repetition of same in the future,” he added.
Ramkarpal said the Federal Court must fix a date for decision of the said matter as soon as possible now in light of the resignations.