Proses pelantikan hakim perlu ditambahbaik bagi meningkatkan kebebasan badan kehakiman (Malay/English)

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[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (Bersih 2.0) menggesa proses pelantikan hakim di kedua-dua mahkamah tinggi dan mahkamah rendah ditambahbaik bagi memastikan para hakim dilantik berdasarkan merit, tidak mendiskriminasi dan bebas.

Gesaan ini dibuat dalam pelancaran laporan kajian Bersih 2.0 bertajuk “Memelihara Kebebasan Kehakiman: Pelantikan, Kenaikan Pangkat dan Pemecatan Hakim di Malaysia” pada 22 Mac. 

Kertas kajian ini ditulis oleh Serene Lim dengan naungan Bersih 2.0.

Laporan ini antara lain mendedahkan bahawa, walaupun proses pelantikan kehakiman telah ditambahbaik beberapa tahun belakangan ini dengan penubuhan Suruhanjaya Pelantikan Kehakiman (JAC) pada tahun 2009, namun masih ada banyak ruang penambahbaikan bagi memelihara kebebasan proses ini.

  • Perdana menteri mempunyai budi bicara mutlak untuk melantik lima daripada sembilan anggota JAC dan bahkan boleh, secara sah memperkukuh dan mengesahkan kuasa eksekutif dalam aspek-aspek penting dalam proses pelantikan kehakiman
  • Anggota JAC tidak mempunyai jaminan tempoh tugas kerana PM diberi kuasa untuk mencabut pelantikan mana-mana daripada empat orang terkemuka (eminent person) tanpa perlu memberikan sebarang alasan
  • Kurangnya kuasa JAC untuk mengikat sebarang cadangan bagi setiap kekosongan jawatan berbanding perdana menteri yang diberi kuasa untuk menolak nama, meminta cadangan lanjut tanpa sebarang alasan dan mengemukakan nama yang tidak disarankan oleh JAC
  • Perdana menteri bersendirian atau ketua hakim, setelah berunding dengan PM, diberikan prerogatif oleh perlembagaan untuk memulakan proses pemecatan dengan mengemukakan petisyen kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong bagi melantik sebuah tribunal ad-hoc. Hal ini menunjukkan kurangnya ketelusan dalam proses pelantikan anggota ke tribunal ad-hoc dan keseluruhan proses siasatan
  • Pelantikan hakim ke mahkamah rendah bukanlah pelantikan oleh Perlembagaan dan tidak termasuk dalam bidang kuasa Akta Suruhanjaya Pelantikan Kehakiman 2009. Banyak perlindungan bagi kebebasan kehakiman jatuh di bawah Perlembagaan Persekutuan, dan Akta Suruhanjaya Pelantikan Kehakiman 2009 tidak merangkumi mahkamah rendah. Mereka dianggap sebagai pegawai undang-undang dalam bidang kuasa Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Kehakiman dan Perundangan yang menyediakan pegawai undang-undang yang dapat ditukar ke pelbagai jabatan eksekutif dan juga dilantik sebagai hakim untuk mahkamah rendah. Mengamanahkan pelantikan, pertukaran dan pemecatan hakim kepada mahkamah majistret dan sesyen di dalam satu jabatan eksekutif merupakan suatu percanggahan di mana eksekutif diberi kuasa eksklusif untuk menjalankan peranan kehakiman di mahkamah rendah – satu kontradiksi kepada logik pemisahan kuasa

Berdasarkan cadangan laporan kajian ini, Bersih 2.0 menggesa kerajaan untuk menambahbaikan proses pelantikan kehakiman dengan:

Suruhanjaya pelantikan kehakiman

Perlembagaan Persekutuan perlu dipinda bagi memberikan JAC status perlembagaan. Komposisi sembilan ahli JAC memerlukan penstrukturan semula seperti berikut:

  • Empat ahli ex-officio dari kehakiman (ketua hakim Mahkamah Persekutuan, presiden Mahkamah Rayuan, ketua Hakim Malaya dan ketua Hakim Sabah dan Sarawak) mewakili perspektif sebagaimana sekarang
  • Tiga ahli perlu dipilih daripada Majlis Peguam, Persatuan Undang-Undang Sabah (Sabah Law Society) dan Persatuan Peguambela di Sarawak bagi mewakili tiga badan pengamal undang-undang yang sah
  • Dua ahli daripada pertubuhan masyarakat sivil atau akademia yang akan dipilih oleh tujuh ahli JAC bagi mewakili perspektif awam dan masyarakat sivil melalui permohonan terbuka serta proses pemilihan yang jelas

Akta Suruhanjaya Pelantikan Kehakiman 2009 harus dipinda untuk membataskan budi bicara perdana menteri bagi menolak pencalonan oleh JAC hanya sekali sahaja untuk setiap kekosongan dan perdana menteri mesti memberikan alasan yang kuat.

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Tempoh ahli JAC perlu ditetapkan sehingga ke empat tahun.

Ahli JAC boleh berkhidmat sepenggal sahaja dan boleh dilantik semula untuk satu penggal lagi dengan syarat penggal itu tidak berturutan.

Pemecatan ahli JAC boleh dilakukan sekiranya ada salahlaku atau ketidakupayaan untuk menjalankan tugas dan dibawa ke tribunal disiplin dengan perlindungan bagi memboleh ahli yang berhadapan dengan tuduhan untuk mencabar tuduhan tersebut.

Walaupun menyedari keperluan kerahsiaan, maklumat penting yang berkaitan bagaimana pesuruhjaya JAC melaksanakan mandatnya harus diumumkan di laman web atau melalui laporan tahunan bagi memastikan objektif yang lebih luas agar JAC dapat dipertanggungjawabkan.

Cadangan maklumat yang perlu diumumkan adalah bilangan pemohon, institusi dan penjawat awam yang terlibat serta peranan mereka, alasan penolakan calon oleh perdana menteri, dan prosedur yang digunakan dalam pelantikan, kenaikan pangkat, temuduga dan penilaian. Semua ini perlu diumumkan di laman web atau melalui laporan tahunan.

Pelantikan dan kenaikan pangkat hakim

Mewajibkan rundingan mandatori untuk calon yang disenaraipendek bersama Majlis Peguam, Persatuan Undang-Undang Sabah, Persatuan Peguambela Sarawak, Peguam Negara Persekutuan, Peguam Negeri bagi perkhidmatan undang-undang negeri untuk pencalonan hakim ke Mahkamah-Mahkamah Rayuan dan Persekutuan.

Proses penilaian dan pemilihan hakim perlu mengambil kira kepelbagaian serta perwakilan minoriti.

Pelantikan suruhanjaya kehakiman

Mandat JAC perlu juga termasuk pencalonan untuk jawatan pesuruhjaya kehakiman (judicial commissioner, hakim sementara) kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong dan bukannya oleh perdana menteri. Perkara 122AB Perlembagaan Persekutuan perlu dipinda bagi memberikan kuasa ini kepada JAC.

Pesuruhjaya kehakiman boleh dilantik hanya untuk tujuan khusus dan penggalnya hanya selama dua tahun.

Pemecatan hakim

Perkara 125(3) Perlembagaan Persekutuan perlu dipinda bagi memperuntukan pelantikan untuk prosiding tribunal pemecatan hakim dibuat oleh Yang di-Pertuan Agong dengan nasihat oleh JAC.

Asas dan peraturan yang jelas bagi komposisi tribunal, kuasa melantik ahli, prosedur prosiding tribunal termasuklah keperluan pembuktian, hak untuk merayu keputusan tribunal, dan lain-lain perlu dibina dengan perundingan bersama pemegang taruh.

Pelantikan hakim mahkamah rendah

Perkhidmatan kehakiman dan perundangan perlu dipisahkan kepada perkhidmatan kehakiman dan perkhidmatan perundangan yang berasingan, dengan penubuhan suruhanjaya perkhidmatan kehakiman yang baharu di bawah pindaan Perkara 138 dan suruhanjaya perkhidmatan perundangan yang baharu di bawah satu Perkara 138A yang baharu.

Akta suruhanjaya perkhidmatan kehakiman perlu digubal bagi menyediakan asas undang-undang bagi Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Kehakiman dan prosedur serta peraturan yang jelas bagi urusan pelantikan, kenaikan pangkat, dan pemindahan hakim ke mahkamah rendah

Pegawai dari kedua-dua perkhidmatan kehakiman dan perundangan tidak boleh dipindahkan diantara satu sama lain kecuali sekiranya ianya perpindahan yang tetap.

Jawatankuasa pemandu Bersih 2.0

English version

Reform judicial appointment process to improve judicial independence

At the launch of a research report entitled “Safeguarding Judicial Independence: Appointment, Promotion and Removal of Judges in Malaysia” on 22 March today, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) called for reforms to be made to the appointment process of judges at both the superior and subordinate courts to ensure a merit-based, non-discriminatory and independent appointment process.

The research paper is commissioned by Bersih 2.0 and written by Serene Lim.

The report reveals that while the appointment process of judges has improved in recent years after the establishment of the Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC) in 2009, there is still much room for improvement in the process to safeguard judicial independence. The key weaknesses highlighted by the report include:

  • The prime minister retains the sole discretion to appoint five out of nine members of the JAC and may, in fact, statutorily reinforce and validate the power of the executive in key aspects of the judicial appointments process
  • Members of the JAC lack security of tenure as the prime minister is given the power to revoke the appointment of any of the four eminent persons without assigning any reason
  • The lack of binding power of the JAC’s recommendation for each vacancy over the prime minister, who is empowered to reject names, ask for further recommendations without citing any reason and to put forward names not recommended by the commission
  • The prime minister alone or the chief justice in consultation with the prime minister are given the constitutional prerogative to initiate removal proceedings by petitioning to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint an ad hoc tribunal. There is a lack of transparency in the appointments of the members to the ad hoc tribunal and the entire inquiry process
  • The appointment of judges to the subordinate courts is not a constitutional appointment nor does it fall within the purview of the JAC Act. Many safeguards for judicial independence under the Federal Constitution and the JAC Act are not accorded to the subordinate courts. They are regarded as legal officers within the purview of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission which supplies the interchangeable legal personnel who staff various executive departments as well as judges for the subordinate courts. Entrusting the appointment, transfer and removal of judges to the magistrates’ and sessions courts within an executive department represents an anomaly where the executive is vested with the exclusive power to perform judicial roles in the subordinate courts – an anathema to the logic of the separation of powers
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Adopting the recommendations of the report, Bersih 2.0 calls on the government to initiate reforms to the appointment process of judges by:

On the Judicial Appointments Commission

The Federal Constitution should be amended to give JAC constitutional status. The composition of the nine-member JAC should be restructured as follows:

Four ex-officio members from the judiciary (chief justice of the Federal Court, president of the Court of Appeal, chief judge of the High Court in Malaya and the chief judge in Sabah and Sarawak) representing the judicial perspective as it is now.

Three members to be selected by the Bar Council, Sabah Law Society and the Advocates Associate of Sarawak representing the three legal practitioner bodies.

Two lay members from civil society or academia to be selected by the seven other members in the JAC representing the perspective of public and civil society through open applications and a clearly defined selection process.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2009 should be amended to limit the prime minister’s discretion to reject nominations by the JAC to only once for each vacancy and the prime minister must provide his reasons for doing so.

The tenure for members of the JAC should be fixed for up to four years.

Members of the JAC may serve one term only and can be reappointed for one additional term provided that the total two terms are not served consecutively.

Removal of the members of the JAC may only be done for misconduct or incapacity and overseen by a disciplinary tribunal with safeguards in place to enable the members in question to challenge allegations against them.

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While acknowledging the need for confidentiality, important information relating to the manner in which the Commission discharges its mandate should be made public on the website or through the annual report to ensure the broader objective of holding the JAC accountable.

Recommended information to be made public are numbers of applicants, the institutions and public office holders involved and their respective roles, reasons for rejection of nominees by the prime minister, and the procedures followed in the appointments, promotions, interviews and assessments. These should be made public on websites or through annual reports.

On appointments and promotions of judges

To put in place mandatory consultation on the shortlisted nominees with the Bar Council, the Sabah Law Society, the Advocates Association of Sarawak, the attorney general of the federation, the attorney general of a state legal service for the nominations of judges to the Court of Appeal and Federal Court

Diversity and minority representation to be taken into consideration in the process of assessment and selection of judges.

On appointments of judicial commissioners

The JAC’s mandate should also include the nomination for appointment of judicial commissioners to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and not by the prime minister. Article 122AB of the Federal Constitution should be amended to provide the power to the JAC.

Judicial commissioners may be appointed only for specified purposes and for no more than a single term of two years.

On removal of judges

Article 125(3) of the Federal Constitution be amended to provide that a tribunal proceeding for the removal of judges may be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the JAC.

Clear rules and grounds for the composition of the tribunal, power to appoint members, the procedure of tribunal proceedings, including evidential requirement and right to appeal against the decision of the tribunal, should be developed in consultation with key stakeholders.

On appointments of judges to the subordinate courts

The judicial and legal services be separated into a judicial service and a legal service, with the establishment of a new judicial service commission under an amended article 138 and a new legal service commission to be established under a new article 138A.

A new judicial service commission act be enacted to provide a legal foundation for the judicial service commission with clear rules and procedures for the appointments, promotions and transfers of judges to the subordinate courts.

Officers from both judicial and legal services should not be transferable, except if on a permanent basis.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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