Oct 25 hearing on Najib, Shafee’s applications to challenge Sri Ram’s appointment


THE High Court here today set Oct 25 to hear the judicial review applications by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (left) to challenge the appointment of former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram (picture; above) from leading the prosecution team in their cases.

Their lawyer, Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee, who is Muhammad Shafee’s son, told reporters that the date was set by High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya during the case management in her chambers today.

The proceeding was also attended by senior federal counsel (SFC) Aisyaf Falina Abdullah, acting on behalf of the Attorney-General / Public Prosecutor, the government and Sri Ram, as the respondents.”

Muhammad Farhan said during the proceeding, the SFC informed the court that they intended to file an appeal at the Federal Court with regard to the Court of Appeal’s decision in granting Najib and Muhammad Shafee permission to initiate the judicial review proceeding.

“However, we have not received any documents regarding the appeal,” said Muhammad Farhan.

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

Then High Court judge Datuk Azizah Nawawi (now Court of Appeal judge), in her judgment, said it wa s 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 prayer sought in the leave applications by Najib and Muhammad Shafee is similar to that in their applications to disqualify Sri Ram at the Criminal High Court.

Following which, Najib and Muhammad Shafee filed an appeal against the decision and on Aug 26, the Court of Appeal ruled in their favour.

three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, Datuk Lau Bee Lan and Datuk Has Zanah Mehat allowed the appeals on grounds that there were merits in their applications and that the nature and jurisdiction of the judicial review application, as well as the disqualification motion filed in the criminal court, were separate and distinct.

Both the cases on the review applications came up for mention today before judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya.

On March 1 this year, High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah dismissed Najib’s application to disqualify Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in his 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) case.

He appealed to the Court of Appeal, but failed, when on May 7, the Court of Appeal three-member bench comprising Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Lau Bee Lan ruled that the matter was not appealable by virtue of Section 50 (1) read with section 3 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

In delivering the decision, Justice Zabariah also allowed the prosecution’s preliminary objection to Najib’s appeal.

She said the court was of the view that the High Court’s decision to disallow the defence to see Sri Ram’s letter of appointment and for Sri Ram to continue to act as prosecutor in Najib’s case was made in the course of the trial which did not finally dispose his rights.

On April 22, judge Sequerah dismissed Muhammad Shafee’s application to obtain Sri Ram’s appointment letter as senior deputy public prosecutor and also to recuse the former Federal Court judge from leading the prosecution team in his money laundering case.

He found there was no evidence to show that Sri Ram would be biased in handling the case.

Najib and Muhammad Shafee had, separately, filed for the judicial review in December last year to challenge the Attorney-General’s decision to appoint Sri Ram as a deputy public prosecutor under Section 376 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

They sought a court order to revoke Sri Ram’s appointment or recuse him, saying that his letter of appointment is invalid.

They are also seeking a declaration that there is a conflict of interest in Sri Ram’s appointment and requested for an order to prohibit him (Sri Ram) from leading the prosecution team in all of their cases, including on corruption, abuse of power and money laundering.