Najib allowed to challenge Sri Ram’s appointment as DPP


THE Court of Appeal yesterday granted leave to former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and his lawyer Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to commence a judicial review to challenge the legality of the appointment of former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram (picture) as a senior deputy public prosecutor (DPP) in their trials.

A three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, Datuk Lau Bee Lan and Datuk Has Zanah Mehat allowed the appeals brought by the duo to set aside the High Court dismissal of their applications to obtain leave to initiate the judicial review.

“We are unanimous in our decision. We find merit in the appeal. We are of the view that the nature and jurisdiction of the judicial review application, as well as the disqualification motion filed in the criminal court, are separate and distinct,” said Justice Hasnah, who chaired the bench.

She said the issue of multiplicity does not arise as the remedies sought are different.

She also said the court found there is an arguable case and the judicial review applications are not frivolous or an abuse of the court process.

Justice Hasnah then fixed today for case management of the judicial review cases before the deputy registrar of the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers Division) in Kuala Lumpur (KL).

On Feb 20 this year, the KL High Court dismissed Najib and Muhammad Shafee’s applications for leave to commence a judicial review, prompting them to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The then High Court Judge Datuk Azizah Nawawi (now Court of Appeal judge) in her judgement said it is more convenient for the issue on Sri Ram’s appointment to be addressed in the criminal High Court as similar applications are pending in that court, and the leave application by Najib and Muhammad Shafee is similar to their applications to disqualify Sri Ram at the criminal High Court.

Meanwhile, DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib told reporters that Najib’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial will go on as scheduled tomorrow before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah at the KL High Court and that Sri Ram will lead the prosecution team.

On yesterday’s decision, he said the Attorney General’s Chambers will decide on the next course of action.

Muhammad Shafee, however, said the prosecution should postpone the trial set for tomorrow because any prosecution by an unqualified person will nullify the case.

“But we don’t want to be accused of delaying the trial again. It is up to them. The ball is at their feet because the court has given us the leave,” he said.

In the appeal yesterday, Muhammad Shafee represented Najib while lawyer Harvinderjit Singh represented Muhammad Shafee.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas
appeared for the respondents.