Dec 1, 2016

Boost for independence of judiciary

The judicial and legal service has been separated into two divisions, with the AG heading only the legal division.


The Federal Court Registrar will now head the judicial division, a move that will be seen as instilling confidence in the independence of the judiciary.

The Attorney-General (AG), meanwhile, will lead the legal division.

Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria said the Cabinet had recently approved the administrative set up of the divisions and was now waiting for the Public Service Department to issue a fresh circular.

“A previous circular in 2010 that made the AG as judicial and legal service head is contrary to the Federal Constitution,” he told FMT after a book launch yesterday.

In the past, the top judge had said it was unwise for the AG to head the judicial and legal service as he was under the (government’s) executive branch.

“If the AG is kept in the present role, I’m concerned that it would create a negative perception on the independence of the judiciary,” he had said.

FMT has come to understand that de facto Law Minister Azalina Othman had submitted a Cabinet note recently to rectify the mistake and to set up the divisions.

Arifin, however, said officials from the legal and judicial divisions could still be transferred subject to approval by both heads.

Sessions Court judges, magistrates and registrars come under the judicial division while deputy public prosecutors and federal counsel come under the legal division.

Arifin, who will be retiring in March, said both divisions would, however, be still under the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.

The commission is headed by the Public Service Commission chairman while six judges and the AG are its members.

The commission decides on promotions and transfers of officials.

SOURCE : FMT

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