PUTRAJAYA, 15 April 2009: The promotion of three Federal Court and five Court of Appeal judges was based on merit to meet the highest standards in the judiciary, said Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi.
He said the eight judges should be proud to have been chosen to fill up the vacancies based on their merits, and which was necessary to improve the respect given to the courts.
“Parties want to be fairly heard. Our trust is put in you to maintain public confidence. Having said that, the expectations of the citizens and our clients are very high, as well as, they want speedy and efficient disposals of the cases,” he said in a speech after the swearing-in ceremony at the Palace of Justice, here today.
The three Federal Court and five Court of Appeal judges had earlier received their letters of appointment from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at the Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur.
Zaki said with the appointments of the two levels of appellate courts, he hoped that efficiency would continue to improve and there would be speedier disposal of appeals.
Until 9 April, the Court of Appeal had disposed of 987 civil cases simply on the grounds that the appellants were not interested to proceed with the appeals without counting all other fully heard judgments, he said.
“To this I must say thank you to Datuk Gopal Sri Ram, Datuk Raus Md Sharif and Datuk Sulong Matjeraie. I know you are working hard to dispose the cases,” he said adding that the judiciary also had worked closely with the Malaysian Bar Council to improve, as well as, to expedite disposal of cases.
Meanwhile, Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan when asked by the media on the appointment, expressed happiness that merits had been taken into consideration on the appointment of judges.
He said the bar also had been working closely with the judiciary and had given consultation and suggestion on the appointment of judges during meetings in the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
“We are giving consultation in JAC but we are not involved directly in JAC. We are giving our inputs in terms of consultation, suggestion, in terms of who are the judges who should be elevated, and of course we leave it to the JAC to make the decision,” he said.
Ragunath said it was very important for the country to have a first class judiciary to attract foreign investors to invest in the country.
At the ceremony, Sri Ram, who has served for 15 years in the Court of Appeal, together with Datuk Wira Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff, 63, and Datuk James Foong Cheng Yuen, 63, were sworn-in as Federal Court judges before Zaki.
Sri Ram, 65, has the distinction of being the first lawyer in private practice to be appointed straight to the Court of Appeal when it was set up in 1994. He had never served as a judicial commissioner or a High Court judge.
He will turn 66 on 16 Aug, the retirement age for judges, but the Federal Constitution allows for a six-month extension.
Sri Ram when approached by the media said “a judge never gives comments (press conference). Ask the Chief Justice”.
Mohd Ghazali, a former solicitor-general, was made High Court judge in 1995 and was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2002. Foong, also a lawyer in private practice, was made High Court judge in 1990 and promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2005.
With the elevation of the three, the Federal Court now has the maximum 12-member bench.
Meanwhile, five High Court Judges Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus, 59, Datuk Ramly Ali, 56, Datuk Kang Hwee Gee, 64, Datuk Jeffry Tan Kok Wha, 59, and Datuk Azhar@Izhar Ma’ah, 63, were sworn-in as Court of Appeal judges before Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff.
With the appointments, the Court of Appeal will have 22 judges. Their appointments come into effect today. — Bernama