KUALA LUMPUR: The two-year term of the four eminent persons on the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) ends on Thursday but the Prime Minister has not consulted any of the three Bar associations or the Attorney General on their replacements.
Under the JAC Act 2009, the appointments are made “after consulting” the Bar Council, the Sabah Law Association, Advocates Association of Sarawak, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Attorney General of a State legal service or any other relevant bodies.
According to the Act, eminent persons can serve for a maximum of two years and the current team, first appointed in 2013, are in their second term, ending Feb 9.
They are Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, Tan Sri Sulong Matjeraie, Datuk Tee Ah Sing and Datuk T. Selventhiranathan.
This time, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak did not consult the Bars as he did previously.
The Star reported on Jan 21, 2013, that Najib had suggested six names for the four eminent persons post.
Then Bar Council chairman Lim Chee Wee said the council gave its support for two of the names on the Prime Minister’s list and suggested two others as alternates.
Asked on Monday whether he had been consulted, AG Tan Sri Mohd Apandi Ali said via WhatsApp: “The answer is no. I have not been consulted.”
Current Bar Council chairman Steven Thiru said “neither the prime minister nor his office have consulted us.”
The president of the Sarawak Advocates Association, Ranbir Singh Sangha, and Sabah Law Association president Brenndon Keith Soh said the same.
The other members of the JAC are Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, as chairman, and Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judge Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop.
The JAC recommends candidates for the PM to choose from and advise the King on judicial appointments to the superior courts.
While the quorum for meetings is seven, Section 15 says no act done or proceeding taken under the Act “shall be questioned” because of “a vacancy in the membership”.
“It’s a collective decision-making body; the JAC should not sit unless it can meet the minimum intended by Parliament,” said Steven, when asked whether the appointment of judges could continue without eminent persons in the JAC after Feb 9.