The judicial conundrum will be solved if both Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin resign immediately, said Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
“They should not impose a burden on the seven judges to deliver judgment. If they resign at once, then the Prime Minister and the Cabinet can advise the King on the succession of the next set of judges,” the former Federal Court judge told The Star Online on Sunday (June 10).
The Malaysian Bar and the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) had challenged the appointments of Md Raus and Zulkefli, made beyond the mandatory retirement age of 66 years and six months.
The case is being heard in the Federal Court by a seven-member Bench.
“In other words, they must not have any connection with previous prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak,” he said.
Sri Ram said the only people who fill that role are Federal Court judges Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Tan Sri Zainon Ali who are the next most senior judges.
“We have never had an East Malaysian CJ, so it is time we gave it to them. Additionally, Richard is an excellent candidate. He has got a lot of experience, both at the Bar and on the Bench,” said Sri Ram.
He added that if both Md Raus and Zulkefli continued to delay their departure, it would adversely affect Malanjum and Zainon because they do not have much time left on the Bench.
“And they should be given an opportunity to serve,” said Sri Ram.
He had earlier told Malaysiakini that Tun Daim Zainuddin had allegedly demanded the resignations of both Md Raus and Zulkefli during a meeting with them.
Sri Ram said that it was “an open secret” this had occurred during a meeting at Daim’s private office, but it is currently unclear when the actual meeting in question took place.
He said Daim, who is the Council of Eminent Persons chairman, should not have demanded Md Raus and Zulkefli’s resignations as it was unconstitutional for anyone other than the prime minister to summon the head of the judiciary.
“Although this may have been motivated by the best of intentions, what happened is quite wrong.
“Daim is not the prime minister, and even if he had been asked by the Prime Minister to do what he did, he should have declined and left it to the Attorney General, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to handle this.
“After all, we do not want to return to the old days when there was no respect for the separation of powers and the due observance of constitutional requirements,” Sri Ram was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.
He said that by attending the meeting, Md Raus and Zulkefli had only made matters worse.
“With respect, had they believed that their continued occupation of their respective office was justified, they should have dignifiedly declined the invitation,” Sri Ram said.
The re-appointments of Md Raus and Zulkefli on April 1 last year to their respective posts were controversial, as their terms were extended after they reached the mandatory retirement age of 66 years and six months.
Sri Ram had also said that if the duo had rejected their extension, they would not have had to suffer the “humiliation” of being treated “no better than office boys”.
He also urged the duo to resign at once, or that the Attorney General should inform the courts that the Government no longer supported their appointments as constitutional.
In 2017, Pakatan Harapan submitted a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong seeking his intervention to stop Md Raus and Zulkefli’s reappointments.
When contacted, Md Raus did not want to comment but he did not deny a meeting with Daim.