Newly-appointed Chief Justice Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif has pledged to maintain an independent and competent judicial system and is committed to ensure the high standard expected of judges is maintained.
“It is my duty, as well as everyone’s to ensure that the independence of the judiciary is safeguarded. My every endeavours will be directed to seeing that this is maintained and in my own way, promoted,” he said.
Md Raus said as an institution, the judiciary was not and should never be beholden to anyone but the Federal Constitution.
“It is also our utmost duty to ensure unhindered access to justice for all citizens, and to enforce the laws of the land, equitably and transparently,” he said in his speech at a ceremony which was held in conjunction with his appointment as chief justice, replacing Tun Arifin Zakaria who retired.
He said he would endeavour with rigour to maintain and enhance public confidence in the judiciary which was essential in the administration of justice.
Md Raus, 66, earlier took his oath of office as the 14th Chief Justice before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Prior to his appointment, he was the Court of Appeal president.
He said public respect towards the system and court rulings depended on its confidence in the integrity of judges and their independence in making any decision, without fear or favour.
“In order to maintain and enhance public confidence, it is of fundamental importance that judges, at all times, must observe the highest standards of conduct and integrity.” Md Raus noted it was only when the community had confidence in the integrity and capacity of the judges that it could be said that the community was governed by the rule of law.
“So, let’s work together to defend the judiciary against any attempt to undermine its independence. It is our responsibility to ensure that judges decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts before them and in accordance with the law, without any restriction, improper influence, inducements, pressure threat or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason,” he said.
He added there would be continuity in the way the courts were currently administered and efficiency would continue to be the norm, and also continuing to examine and evaluate the judiciary’s current practices to find ways to further improve the administration of justice.
Md Raus said he was committed to ensuring the high standards expected of judges were maintained and continuing judicial education was needed to ensure enhancement of judges as the public deserved the highest standard of service from the judiciary.
The ceremony was held at the Federal Court, together with the ceremony involving the oath-taking of office of Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, 66, as Court of Appeal president and Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, 63, as Chief Judge of Malaya.
Also present at the ceremony was Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and former chief justices Tun Arifin Zakaria and Tun Zaki Azmi.
Meanwhile at a press conference held after the ceremony, Md Raus said the judiciary was targeting at reducing the time taken to dispose of capital punishment cases within three years.
He said previously, it took 10 years for a murder case to reach to the Federal Court, from the High Court and Court of Appeal.
“We are going to reduce the time frame, if we can do it in a year at the High Court, about nine months at the Court of Appeal and nine months in the Federal Court, it would be great,” added Md Raus.
He said there was no KPI for judges but just a time line had been set, adding that judges should spend reasonable time hearing cases and write the judgment because the judiciary had passed the phase of disposing backlog cases as now, cases in the court were current ones.
On the retirement age for judges, he said a proposal was made by Arifin to raise the retirement age to 70, and the judges had supported the proposal but it was up to the government.
Md Raus is slated to retire on Aug 4, and Zulkefli on Sept 27.
Source : @ Bernama