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Constitution of Malaysia (1957) – 9: The Judiciary

PART IX – THE JUDICIARY

Article 121

(1) Subject to Clause (2) the judicial power of the Federation shall be vested into High Courts of co- ordinate jurisdiction and status, namely-

(a) one of the States of Malaya, which shall be known as the High Court in Malaya and shall have its principle registry in Kuala Lumpur; and

(b) one in the States of Sabah and Sarawak, which shall be known as the High Court in Borneo and shall have its principle registry at such place in the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di- Pertaun Agong may determine;

(c) (Repealed);

and in such inferior courts as may be provided by federal law.

(2) The following jurisdiction shall be vested in a court which shall be known as the Mahkamah Agung (Supreme Court) and shall have its principle registry in Kuala Lumpur, that is to say -

(a) exclusive jurisdiction to determine appeals from decisions of a High Court or a judge thereof (except decision of a High Court given by a registrar or other officer of the court and appealable under federal law to a judge of the Court);

(b) such original or consultative jurisdiction as is specified in Articles 128 and 130; and

(c) such other jurisdiction as may be conferred by or under federal law.

(3) Subject to any limitations imposed by or under federal law, any order, decree, judgement or process of the courts referred to in Clause (1) or of any judge thereof shall (so far as its nature permits) have full force and effect according to its tenor throughout the Federation, and may be executed or enforced in any part of the Federation accordingly; and federal law may provide for courts in one part of the Federation or their officers to act in aid of courts in another part.

(4) In determining where the principal registry of the High Court in Borneo is to be, the Yang di- Pertuan Agong shall act on the advice of the Prime Minister, who shall consult the Chief Ministers of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the Chief Justice of the High Court.

Article 122

(1) The Supreme Court shall consist of a president of the Court (to be styled “the Lord President of the Supreme Court”), of the Chief Justices of the High Courts and, until the Yang di- Pertuan Agong by order otherwise provides, of four other judges and such additional judges as may be appointed pursuant to Clause (1A).

(1A) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution contained, the Yang di- Pertuan Agong acting on the advice of the Lord President of the Supreme Court may appoint for such purposes or for such period as he may specified any person who has held high judicial office in Malaysia to be an additional judge of the Supreme Court:

Provided that no such additional judge shall be ineligible to hold office by reason of having attained the age of sixty- five years.

(2) A judge of High Court other than the Chief Justice may sit as a judge of the Supreme Court where the Lord President considers that the interests of justice so require, and the judge shall be nominated for the purpose (as occasion requires) by the Lord President.

Article 122A

(1) Each of the High Courts shall consist of a Chief Judge and not less than four other judges; but the number of other judges shall not, until the Yang di- Pertuan Agong by order otherwise provides, exceed -

(a) in the High Court in Malaya, twelve; and

(b) in the High Court in Borneo, eight.

(c) (Repealed).

(2) Any person qualified for appointment as a judge of High Court may sit as a judge of that court, if designated for the purpose (as occasion requires) in accordance with Article 122B.

(3) For the dispatch of business of the High Court in Borneo in an area in which a judge of the court is not the time being available to attend to business of the court, the Yang di- Pertuan Agong acting on the advice of the Lord President of the Supreme Court, or for an area in either State the Yang di- Pertua Negeri of the State acting on the advice of the Chief Justice of the court, may by order appoint to be judicial commissioner in that area for such period or for such purposes as may be specified in the order an advocate or person professionally qualified to be admitted an advocate of the court.

(4) Subject to any limitations or conditions imposed by the order appointing him, a judicial commissioner shall have power, in the area for which he is appointed, to perform such functions of a judge of the High Court in Borneo as appear to him to require to be performed without delay; and anything done by a judicial commissioner when acting in accordance with his appointment shall have the same validity and effect as if done by a judge of that court, and in respect thereof he shall have the same powers and enjoy the same immunities as if he had been a judge of that court.

(5) For the dispatch of business of the High Court in Malaya; the Yang di-Pertuan Agong acting on the advice of the Lord President of the Supreme Court, may by order appoint to be judicial commissioner for such period or such purposes as may be specified in the order any person qualified for appointment as a judge of High Court; and the person so appointed shall have power to perform such functions of a judge of the High Court in Malaya as appear to him to require to be performed; and anything done by him when acting in accordance with his appointment shall have the same validity and effect as if done by a judge of that court, and in respect thereof he shall have the same powers and enjoy the same immunities as if he had been a judge of that court.

Article 122B

(1) The Lord President of the Supreme Court, and chief justices of the High Courts and (subject to Article 122C) the other judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Court shall be appointed by the Yang di- Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

(2) Before tendering his advice as to the appointment under Clause (1) of a judge other than the Lord President of the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister shall consult the Lord President.

(3) Before tendering his advice as to the appointment under Clause (1) of the Chief Justice of a High Court, the Prime Minister shall consult the Chief Justice of each of the High Courts and, if the appointment is to the High Court in Borneo, the Chief Minister of each of the States of Sabah and Sarawak.

(4) Before tendering his advice as to the appointment under Clause (1) of a judge other than the Lord President or a Chief Justice, the Prime Minister shall consult, if the appointment is to the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of each of the High Courts and, if the appointment is to one of the High Courts, the Chief Justice of that court.

(5) This Article shall apply to the designation of a person to sit as judge of a High Court under Article 122A (2) as it applies to the appointment of a judge of the court other than the Chief Justice.

(6) Notwithstanding the dates of their respective appointments as judges of the Supreme Courts or of the High Courts, the Yang di- Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister given after consulting the Lord President, may determine the order of precedence of the judges among themselves.

Article 122C

Article 122B shall not apply to the transfer to a High Court, otherwise than as Chief Justice of a judge of another High Court other than the Chief Justice; and such a transfer may be made by the Yang di- Pertaun Agong, on the recommendation of the Lord President of the Supreme Court, after consulting the Chief Justices of the two High Courts.

Article 123

A person is qualified for appointment under Article 122B as a judge of the Supreme Court or as a judge of any of the High Courts if-

(a) he is a citizen, and

(b) for the ten years preceding his appointment he has been an advocate of those courts or any of them or a member of the judicial and legal service of the Federation or of the legal service of a State, or sometimes one and sometimes another.

Article 124

(1) The Lord President of the Supreme Court shall before exercising the functions of his office take and subscribe the oath of office and allegiance set out in the Sixth Schedule, and shall do so in the presence of the Yang di- Pertuan Agong.

(2) A judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, other than the Lord President of the Supreme Court, shall before exercising the functions of a judge take and subscribe that oath in relation to his judicial duties in whatever office, and, having done so, shall not be required to take that oath again on appointment or transfer to another judicial office, not being that of Lord President.

(3) A person taking the oath on becoming Chief Justice of a High Court shall do so in the presence of the senior judge available of that High Court, unless he takes it in accordance with Clause (4) as a judge of the Supreme Court.

(4) Subject to Clause (3), a person taking the oath on becoming a judge of the Supreme Court shall do so in the presence of the Lord President or, in his absence, the next senior judge available of the Supreme Court.

(5) A person taking the oath on becoming a judge of a High Court (but not Chief Justice) shall do so in the presence of the Chief Justice of that Court or, in his absence, the next senior judge available of that Court.

Article 125

(1) Subject to the provisions of Clauses (2) to (5), a judge of the Supreme Court shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty- five years or such later time, not being later than six months after he attains that age, as the Yang di- Pertaun Agong may approve.

(2) A judge of the Supreme Court may at any time resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to the Yang di- Pertaun Agong but shall not be removed from office except in accordance with the following provisions of this Article.

(3) If the Prime Minister, or the Lord President after consulting the Prime Minister, represents to the Yang di- Pertuan Agong that a judge of the Supreme Court oath to be removed on the ground of misbehaviour or of inability, from infirmity of body or mind or of any cause, properly to discharge the functions of his office, the Yang di- Pertaun Agong shall appoint a tribunal in accordance with Clause (4) and refer the representation to it; and may on the recommendation of the tribunal remove the judge from office.

(4) The said tribunal shall consist of not less than five persons who hold or have held office as judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court or, if it appears to the Yang di- Pertaun Agong expedient to make such appointment, persons who hold or have held equivalent office in any other part of the Common Wealth and shall be presided over by the member first in the following order, namely, the Lord President of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justices according to their precedence among themselves, and other members according to the order of their appointment to an office qualifying them for membership (the older coming before the younger of two members with appointments of the same date.

(5) Pending any reference and report under Clause (3) the Yang di- Pertaun Agong may on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and, in case of any other judge after consulting the Lord President, suspend a judge of the Supreme Court from the exercise of his functions.

(6) Parliament shall by law provide for the enumeration so provided shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund.

(6A) Subject to the provisions of this Article, Parliament may by law provide for the terms of office of the judges of the Supreme Court other than their enumeration.

(7) The enumeration and other terms of office (including pension rights) of a judge of the Supreme Court shall not be altered to his disadvantage after this appointment.

(8) Notwithstanding Clause (1) the validity of anything done by a judge of the Supreme Court shall not be questioned on the ground that he has attained the age at which he was required to retire.

(9) This Article shall apply to a judge of a High Court as it applies to a judge of a Supreme Court, except that the Yang di- Pertaun Agong before suspending under Clause (5) a judge of a High Court other than the Chief Justice shall consult the Chief Justice of that Court instead of the Lord President of the Supreme Court.

(10) (Repealed).

Article 125A

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, it is hereby declared that -

(a) The Lord President of the Federal Court and a judge of the Supreme Court may exercise all or any of the powers of the judge of a High Court; and

(b) A judge of the High Court in Malaya may exercise all or any of the powers of a judge of the High Court in Borneo, and visa versa.

(2) The provisions of this Article shall be deemed to have been an integral part of this Constitution as from Malaysia Day.

Article 126

The Supreme Court or a High Court shall have power to punish any contempt of itself.

Article 127

The conduct of a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court shall not be discussed in either House of Parliament except on a substantive motion of which notice has been given by no less than one quarter of differences in the system of land tenure) in the same manner as they apply to other States.

Article 128

(1) The Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have jurisdiction to determine in accordance with any rules of court regulating the exercise of such jurisdiction -

(a) any question whether a law made by Parliament or by the Legislature of a State is invalid on the ground that it makes provision with respect to a matter with respect to a matter with respect to which Parliament or, as the case may be, the Legislature of the State has no power to make laws; and

(b) disputes on any other question between States or between the Federation and any State.

(2) Without prejudice to any appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, where in any proceedings before another court a question arises as to the effect of any provision of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction (subject to any rules of court regulating the exercise of that jurisdiction) to determine the question and remit the case to the other court to be disposed of in accordance with the determination.

(3) The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to determine appeals from a High Court or a judge thereof shall be such as may be provided by federal law.

Article 129

(Repealed)

Article 130

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may refer to the Supreme Court for its opinion any question as to the effect of any provision of the Constitution which has arisen or appears to him likely to arise, and the Supreme Court shall pronounce in open court its opinion on any question so referred to it.

Article 131

(Repealed).

Article 131A

(1) Any provision made by federal law for the functions of the Lord President of the Supreme Court to be performed, in the event of a vacancy in the office or of his inability to act, by another judge of the Supreme Court may extend to his functions under this Constitution.

(2) Any provision made by federal law for the functions of the Chief Justice of a High Court to be performed, in the event of a vacancy in the office or of his inability to act, by another judge of that court may extend to his functions under this Constitution other than functions as judge of the Supreme Court.

Next: Chapter 10 – Public Services