BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)
LAST week a larger than normal number of Federal Court judges (seven) heard a case unprecedented in Malaysian legal history. The Malaysian Bar challenging the constitutional validity of the appointment of the chief justice (CJ) and the president of the Court of Appeal (PCA).
The Bar contended as follows. The Constitution explicitly states that the CJ’s term of office is to be 66 years plus six months. After that he must retire. Only a person appointed by the CJ as an additional judge can hold office beyond this prescribed period. Such appointment is expressly provided for in the Constitution. There is no extension allowed for the CJ’s term. So his term ends in accord with the constitutionally-prescribed tenure period.
But, argued the Bar, the CJ’s term was extended through a rather convoluted and unconstitutional process.