PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif will leave the final decision on the constitutionality of his position to the court, admitting that it is “unprecedented”.
However, he maintained that his position was constitutional.
“It is unprecedented and, of course, there are differing views on this and there are lawyers that disagree,” Md Raus told reporters after presenting excellence service awards at the Palace of Justice here yesterday.
“I don’t think it’s strange for lawyers to disagree on the (Federal) Constitution. It happens every day in court,” he said.
“There’s always a first time and there will always be differing opinions. But we have to respect the views of everyone,” he added.
Md Raus was responding to the Malaysian Bar’s protest against his extension as Chief Justice as well as that of Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin.
Md Raus and Zulkefli were appointed to their current positions on April 1. Md Raus replaced Tun Arifin Zakaria, who retired after reaching the age of 66 years and six months on March 31.
Md Raus’ six-month extension expired on Thursday while Zulkefli’s will end on Sept 27.
The Prime Minister’s Office announced on July 7 that the two would be appointed as additional judges under Article 122(1A) of the Constitution so that they could continue to serve in their current positions.
Md Raus’ service was extended for three years and Zulkefli’s for two years.
As a sign of protest, the Bar decided at an EGM on Thursday to snub all social invitations involving the two judges and not to extend any social invitation to them.
Its president George Varughese also said most members at the EGM felt that Md Raus and Zulkefli should have declined the extensions and that it would file a suit soon to challenge these.
Md Raus said that while he respected the Bar’s views, the Bar would also have to respect the view of the court once it had delivered a verdict on the issue.
“They can argue the case in court and let the court decide who is right and who is wrong,” he said.
In response to the boycott on social invitations, Md Raus said he had “no problem” with it.
“I don’t think there are many social functions organised by the Bar. As far as I can remember, it’s their annual dinner and their Bench and Bar games in Singapore.
“I don’t know how they are going to do it because it’s the Bar and Bench games,” he said, adding that he would, however, be inviting the Bar to the bench’s Legal Year event.
“Whether they want to come, it’s up to them,” he said.
Asked if he should have turned down the extension, Md Raus said: “Why should I decline?”
“Under the Constitution, the power to appoint judges is with the King on the advice of the Prime Minister. In the end, the King appointed us. That is the process and it was done,” he said.
Md Raus also said 14 cases had been resolved since the start of the new special court for child sexual crimes a month ago, eight of which were from 2016.
“That means only three cases from 2016 are left, making most of the remaining cases current,” he said.
He added that 62 cases were filed under the special court in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Putrajaya.
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