Appeals Court allows government’s appeal to set aside decision on AIAC ex-director’s immunity

by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA

THE Court of Appeal today overturned a High Court ruling that former director of the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) Datuk Prof Dr N. Sundra Rajoo was entitled to immunity from prosecution for acts committed while in office.

A three-member panel led by Datuk Hanipah Farikullah held that the proper forum to determine Sundra Rajoo’s immunity is the criminal court and not the civil court.

She said the remedy on whether the respondent (Sundra Rajoo) was immune from prosecution should be tested in the criminal court after evidence has been presented by the prosecution.

Justice Hanipah, who presided with Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail and High Court judge Datuk Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali, said Sundra Rajoo could then defend himself properly in the criminal proceedings on whether the alleged offence he was charged, was done in his personal capacity or as high officer.

She allowed the appeal brought by the Foreign Ministry, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the government and the Attorney General to set aside the Dec 31, 2019 decision of the High Court which allowed Sundra Rajoo’s judicial review.

Sundra Rajoo’s counsel K. Shanmuga applied for a stay of today’s court decision pending filing of leave to appeal at the Federal Court but Justice Hanipah told him to file a formal application.

Senior federal counsel S. Narkunavathy, appearing for the appellants, said there were no criminal charges pending against Sundra Rajoo in the Sessions Court.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court had allowed Sundra Rajoo’s judicial review and granted him a declaration that he was immune as a former high ranking officer of AIAC for acts done within his official capacity.

Sundra Rajoo, who was the head of AIAC from 2010 until late 2018, filed an application to seek leave to commence the judicial review proceedings but the High Court in March last year dismissed his application.

The Court of Appeal, on May 23 last year, allowed Sundra Rajoo’s appeal and granted him leave to commence the judical review.

Following the appellate court’s decision, the case was remitted to the High Court to hear Sundra Rajoo’s judicial review.

On Jan 22 this year, Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi struck out the three criminal breach of trust charges involving AIAC funds amounting to more than RM1 million against Sundra Rajoo after ruling that she was bound by the High Court decision that he was entitled to immunity from prosecution for acts done in his official capacity.

On June 15 this year, the appellants withdrew their application in the Federal Court to seek leave to appeal against the appellate court’s decision to grant Sundra Rajoo leave to commence the judicial review.