CJ: Judges must have moral courage to make decisions unpopular with politicians

Judges must have moral courage to make decisions that are unpopular with politicians, the media and the public, says Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria

Published: Friday September 12, 2014 MYT 8:49:00 PM
Updated: Friday September 12, 2014 MYT 10:04:31 PM

PUTRAJAYA: Judges must have moral courage to make decisions that are unpopular with politicians, the media and the public, says Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria.

He said judges should not fear any party being dissatisfied with their decision if they had provided a clear judgement based on established case law authorities.

He said there was no directive issued to judges to agree with the majority decision of the presiding panel at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court stage.

Arifin said this in his speech at the swearing-in ceremony of 15 judges who were elevated to the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court.

A Federal Court panel which presides to hear court cases comprises five or seven judges, and the Court of Appeal panel, three.

Arifin reminded judges to write their grounds of judgement clearly and in a language easily understood by parties, especially those not represented by a lawyer.

Arifin also reminded parties, especially lawyers, not to go against the rule of law when voicing their dissatisfaction over a court decision.

He said judges, judicial officers and lawyers should jointly maintain the dignity and integrity of the judiciary to prevent the people’s trust in the country’s justice process from eroding.

“It is the public perception of the judiciary that ultimately, matters. A judiciary loses its value and service to the community if there is no public confidence in its decision-making.

“I urge all parties to be more careful and responsible in their views and opinions on social media sites becaue the impact would be so extensive and could erode public trust in the judiciary,” noted Arifin.

On another issue, he said following the amendments made to the Judges’ Remuneration Act 1971, judges were now allowed to retire before they reached the age of 60, provided they had served as judge for at least five years to enable them to benefit from their pensions.

The new provision is intended to provide flexibility to any judge who feels he cannot continue with his judicial duties, or wants to retire early for whatever reasons before the mandatory retirement age.

Arifin also said he was satisfied that judges had complied with his practice direction which did not allow hearing of court cases to be postponed unless for urgent reasons.

However, he said he found that there were still judges who did not comply with the practice direction requiring them to deliver their decisions not exceeding four weeks and provide their grounds of judgement within eight weeks from the date the case was postponed for decision.

At the ceremony, Court of Appeal judge Datuk Azahar Mohamed, 58, Solicitor-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, 59, six High Court judges Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi, 60, Datuk P. Nallini, 55, Dr Badariah Sahamid, 59, Ong Lam Kiat Vernon, 57, Abdul Rahman Sebli, 55, and Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham, 63, took their oath of office and allegiance as Federal Court judge and Court of Appeal judges.

Seven judicial commissioners, Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, 55, Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said, 56, Datuk Ahmad Nasfy Yasin, 57, Teo Say Eng, 62, Rosilah Yop, 56, Datuk Hashim Hamzah, 52, and Datin Azizah Nawawi, 52, were confirmed High Court judges.

Azahar was elevated to Federal Court while the other seven were elevated to the Court of Appeal.

Azahar was sworn in before Arifin, while the Court of Appeal judges were before sworn in before Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif.

The High Court judges were sworn in before Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

Their appointments were effective Friday. – Bernama

SOURCE www.thestar.com