AG obtains leave to initiate committal proceedings against Isham Jalil

KUALA LUMPUR — The High Court here today allowed the Attorney-General (AG) to initiate committal proceedings against former UMNO Supreme Council (MT) member Isham Jalil (picture) for contempt of court, over remarks made regarding former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad and SRC International Sdn Bhd’s cases.

Judge Datuk Noorin Badaruddin made the ruling after hearing submissions by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam and counsel Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun representing Isham or legally known as Hizatul Isham Abdul Jalil as respondent.

“The court allows the AG’s application and set April 23 for a case management,” she said.

Earlier, Mohamad Mustaffa submitted that the words spoken by the respondent during the last September interview, as a whole contained a real risk of undermining the public confidence in the administration of justice.

“By questioning the conduct and the decisions by the Federal Court as well as the High Court pertaining to the SRC and 1MDB cases involving Najib, the respondent has disgraced the judiciary and put it to scandal (“scandalizing the judiciary”),” said the prosecutor.

Meanwhile, counsel Azhar Azizan countered that his client was entitled to freedom of speech and whether his comments constitute contempt is arguable as Isham did not commit any contempt inside of the courtroom, per say.

To this, Mohamad Mustaffa replied that the freedom of speech, enshrined in the Federal Constitution was a right accorded to everyone but the comments need to be within  “reasonable courtesy and good faith”.

In the ex-parte application filed last Dec 28, the AG also requested the court to imprison or impose a fine on Isham for the offence.

It was over an interview titled “Townhall for Justice: Keadilan Sebenarnya Untuk Siapa”, during which Isham reportedly commented on the trial and appeal of Najib Tun Razak in the SRC International and  1MDB cases.

The comments were published on the Facebook page of “The Malaya Post” on Sept 30 last year. — BERNAMA/ pic credit: MEDIA MULIA