Federal Court allows Najib’s preliminary objection, rules Tony Pua’s appeal is academic


THE Federal Court here today allowed Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s preliminary objection that the appeal by Damansara Member of Parliament Tony Pua Kiam Wee over an interim injunction obtained against him (Pua) pertaining to a video clip, has become academic as the main defamation suit has been discontinued.

A three-man bench, led by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, ruled that the appeal was academic, and based on established general principles, the court does not answer academic questions.

Najib’s lawyer, Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, in a preliminary objection, had asked the court to dismiss the appeal on grounds that it was academic since the suit no longer in existed.

In a unanimous decision, Justice Azahar said following a decision by another bench of the Federal Court yesterday in rejecting Pua’s leave to appeal against a Court of Appeal ruling last year in allowing Najib to withdraw the defamation suit against Pua, the Court of Appeal’s decision remained undisturbed.

“As a result of the decision of the Court of Appeal, the main suit at the  High Court is (now) non-existent and brings to an end to the litigation between the plaintiff (Najib) and the defendant (Pua), save for the assessment,” he said.

In the decision, Justice Azahar said it was important to note that the appeal before the bench arose from an interim injunction granted by the High Court, which was not a permanent injunction order.

“The injunction cannot stand as the main suit is no longer in existence and moreover the Court of Appeal’s decision on Oct 15, 2019 had set aside the interim injunction,” he said.

The court did not award costs, although Mohd Hafarizam asked for RM30,000 costs.

The other judges presiding on the bench were Federal Court judges Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan.

Najib sued Pua in his personal capacity, alleging that the latter had made defamatory statements against him on live video relating to the tabling of a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or RUU355.

On Aug 4, 2017, a High Court granted Najib the interim injunction to prevent Pua from continuing to make statements and air the video clip.

On Feb 14, 2018, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s ruling, but in June the same year, the Federal Court allowed Pua’s application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court. The appeal was scheduled to be heard today.

Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur High Court on July 30,2018, allowed Najib to withdraw his defamation suit against Pua despite the latter’s objection.

Pua then appealed to the Court of Appeal against the High Court’s ruling allowing Najib to withdraw the suit as the outcome of the injunction had not been decided.

On Oct 15 last year, the Court of Appeal panel chaired by Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer partly allowed Pua’s appeal to receive damages which would be assessed by the High Court following the setting aside of the injunction order.

The appellate court, however, upheld the High Court’s decision which allowed Najib to withdraw his defamation suit against Pua. It also set aside the injunction obtained by Najib in his suit.

Pua subsequently filed leave to appeal to the Federal Court against that decision, but the Federal Court’s  three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan dismissed his application yesterday.