PUTRAJAYA (April 26): Senior Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Mohd Salleh is temporarily assuming the duties of the Chief Judge of Malaya, as Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed is said to have been hospitalised in relation to Covid-19.
A letter signed by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, dated April 22, stating that Justice Zawawi would perform the duties of the chief judge until Justice Azahar recovers, was sighted by theedgemarkets.com.
Justice Azahar has not been hearing cases since last week.
He was supposed to be a member of the panel that decided on the the appeal by Faekah Hussin and several other ex-aides of former Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim against the state government.
But his absence was announced by Court of Appeal president Justice Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf, who chaired the panel and allowed the ex-aides' appeal on April 19.
It is understood that while Justice Azahar is hospitalised at the Sungai Buloh Hospital, his family members have been discharged.
theedgemarkets.com has contacted the Federal Court's office on the matter and is awaiting its response.
Justice Zawawi's temporary appointment is made under Section 9(3) (a) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, that stipulates that should there be a vacancy due to an incapacitation or vacancy, a Federal Court judge could be appointed to perform the duties of the person.
The chief judge's post is the third most senior post in Malaysia's judiciary.
Meanwhile, several court staff in Putrajaya are said to have contracted Covid 19, but most of them have not been hospitalised so far.
In a related development, a source close to the judiciary said senior judges have yet to receive Covid 19 vaccines, which has now made its way to frontliners.
“We have yet to receive vaccinations for Covid 19, but at the same time, we are wondering whether the magistrates should be the first to receive,” said a source on condition of anonymity.
Magistrates have been on the front line in dealing with remand prisoners and also presiding over criminal cases, and their courts are often quite congested.
Meanwhile, at the criminal high courts in the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex, plastic screen barriers have been placed to separate the prosecution and defence benches, as well as the accused dock and the interpreters and judges sitting in front.
It is understood that this precaution is there to prevent the spread of Covid 19.