A senior lawyer has observed that the likely reason behind the appointment of an additional judge to the Federal Court is because the Chief Justice would have felt there were “insufficient judges” in the apex court.
Lawyer T Gunaseelan said the question was whether there were vacancies in the Federal Court, which could have been filled to solve the problem of “insufficient judges.”
“However, I could be wrong,” Gunaseelan told FMT.
The lawyer said this in response to the appointment of retired judge Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa, who was made width=”648″ height=”369″Federal Court effective July 1.
His appointment is for two years.
Tan is the second retired judge to be appointed to that position, the first being Federal Court judge S Chelvasingam MacIntyre in the late 1960s.
Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution allows for such an appointment.
It states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Chief Justice, may appoint for a purpose or for a specific period, a person who had held high judicial office to be an additional judge of the apex court.
A press statement by the Federal Court’s corporate communications unit, however, provided no reason as to why the appointment was necessary.
Several other senior lawyers indicated that MacIntyre was appointed at a time when there were less than five Federal Court judges.
The Bar Council has not responded to FMT’s invitation to comment.
A check by FMT on the Judicial Appointments Commission website revealed that the Federal Constitution provided for 15 Federal Court judges to be appointed.
There is one vacancy following Tan’s mandatory retirement as Federal Court judge in November last year.
A former lawyer, Tan, was elevated to the Federal Court in 2012.
He was in the five-man bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin that heard the corruption appeal by former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo on Jan 19, 2015.
Dr Khir, a former Sungai Panjang assemblyman, was found guilty of obtaining for himself and his wife, Zahrah Kechik, two lots of land and a house in Shah Alam from Ditamas Sdn Bhd director Shamsuddin Hayroni at RM3.5 million.
He was sentenced to 12 months’ jail and the property was confiscated.
Another high profile case, for which Tan had provided a written judgment, was the controversial crooked bridge project in Johor Bahru involving businessman Shazryl Eskay Abdullah.