Breaking tradition, Bar officiates its own legal year
Bar president George Varughese says it has decided to decline the invitation from the courts to participate in Opening of the Legal Year 2018 organised by the judiciary.
KUALA LUMPUR: In an unprecedented move, the Malaysian Bar last night held its own Opening of the Legal Year (OLY) at a private club here, ahead of the official event organised by the Malaysian judiciary today.
Bar president George Varughese said the gathering was held in such a manner as a result of certain events that transpired last year and the position that the Bar adopted.
He said the opening of the OLY ceremonial proceedings in Putrajaya had always involved three parties â" the courts, the Attorney-Generalâs Chambers and the Malaysian Bar.
Si nce its inception in 2010, the OLY had always, in addition to the speech from the Chief Justice, also included a speech from the attorney-general or his representative and a speech from the Malaysian Bar president, as equal partners in the administration of justice.
He said Bar presidents had traditionally used the occasion to reflect on significant events in relation to the rule of law and the administration of justice that have taken place over the preceding year.
Varughese said the president took the opportunity to speak about the visions and aspirations of the Bar for the new legal year.
âThis year, however, we were informed by the courts that at the OLY 2018 ceremony, which is due to take place tomorrow, only Chief Justice Raus Sharif will be giving a speech.
âThis change in format â" from three speeches to one speech diminishes the involvement and role of the Bar in OLY.
âHad we taken part, we would be little more than invited guests.< /p>
âThis amounts to a muzzling of the Bar and raises the question of whether this change in format is a result of some concern about what the Bar would say,â he said in his speech.
He said the Bar Council, after much deliberation, decided to decline the invitation from the courts to participate in OLY 2018.
âWe have notified the courts of our decision and conveyed our hope that the format of OLY 2019 will once again include speeches by the attorney-general, or his or her representative, and the president of the Malaysian Bar,â he said.
The opening of the legal year, a tradition adopted from the United Kingdom, will be held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.
It features a procession of superior court judges, followed by officers from the Attorney-Generalâs Chambers and the Malaysian Bar.
In August last year, the Bar passed a resolution at its extraordinary general meeting to boycott any social function where Raus a nd Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin would be present.
This follows the reappointments of Raus and Zulkefli to their respective positions despite their exceeding the mandatory retirement age of 66 years and six months, which the Bar had termed âblatantly unconstitutionalâ.
The Bar had also filed a challenge to the appointments, with the High Court allowing constitutional questions to be posed to the Federal Court.
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Source: Google News