PUTRAJAYA: Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who took his oath of office yesterday for a two-year term as Court of Appeal president, has pledged to carry out his duties to the best of his ability.
He said his appointment for two years as an additional judge was sufficient to put things in proper perspective, and that he would try to carry on with the good work of his predecessor, Tun Md Raus Sharif, who is now the Chief Justice.
“My target is towards achieving disposal of cases on a current basis,” he said, adding that “current basis” meant that a court case should be cleared in a year or less from the date on which it was filed.
Speaking to reporters after the swearing-in ceremony held at Bilik Kunjung at the chief justice’s office, Zulkefli, 66, said if he took three years’ extension as an additional judge, he would be retiring at the same time as Raus.
“I think two years is just nice.
“If it were to be three years, same time like Raus, then both of us, who are about a month’s difference in age, would be retiring at the same time.
“So by me taking two years, I think there is a break of one year to the line of succession,” he said.
The judiciary’s other top serving judges are Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, who is Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, and Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, who is Chief Judge of Malaya.
Zulkefli took his oath of office before Court of Appeal senior judge Datuk Mohtarudin Baki, witnessed by Raus.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali was also present at the ceremony.
On April 1, Raus and Zulkefli were appointed to their current positions when Tun Arifin Zakaria went on mandatory retirement at the age of 66.
On July 7, Raus and Zulkefli were appointed as additional judges for three years and two years respectively, so that they could continue serving in their current positions.
They were supposed to retire on Aug 3 and Sept 27 respectively, after a six-month extension upon turning 66.
Zulkefli said he knew the appellate court judges and their capabilities well because as chief judge of Malaya for five years, he had been in charge of the High Court judges, some of whom were elevated to the Court of Appeal.
He said that one day, a woman judge would hold the top post, based on the composition of female Court of Appeal judges, which is slightly more than that of male judges.
He said the four women judges who were elevated on Monday, one to the Federal Court and three to the Court of Appeal, had overtaken a number of senior male judges, “which showed that their promotion was based on merit”.
Zulkefli cited as an example Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob, who previously held the post of Chief Judge of Malaya.
He also welcomed the proposal to extend the mandatory retirement age of judges to 70 years, but added that “it should only be for judges at the Federal Court or Court of Appeal level and should not apply to High Court judges”.
Zulkefli said throughout the course of his career as a judge, he would not forget the “Al Maunah treason case” over which he presided when he was a High Court judge in 2001.
In that case, he said, 28 accused persons, charged with waging war against the king, had entered an army camp and taken weapons. They set up camp in Bukit Jenalik, Sauk, Perak, and exchanged gunfire with security forces.
He said he had also written close to 100 judgments of the Federal Court. – Bernama