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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

> Federal Court... End of the road

Under the Malaysian judicial system, the Federal Court is the final point of arbitration for legal disputes arising from decisions at the lower courts.

I went to two Federal Court proceedings earlier this morning as I don't have my oral questions cued for answer at the Parliament. Both proceedings were presided by Justices Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman and Augustine Paul, whom many feared, and Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin.

The first sealed the fate of Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M. Manoharan, at least for the time being. This DAP colleague of mine will remain under ISA detention, imprisonment without trial. The Federal Court dismissed his appeal against the High Court’s decision that refused to grant him a writ of habeas corpus last year for his release.

'Kamunting Hotel'

The second involved Raja Petra Kamarudin's potential return to Kamunting Hotel if he loses in the current proceeding in which the Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, is appealing against the Shah Alam High Court’s decision on Nov 7 last year in allowing RPK’s application for release under habeas corpus.

During the morning session, RPK failed to recuse Justice S. Augustine Paul from hearing his habeas corpus appeal citing real danger of bias against him. Justices Nik Hashim and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin said they were satisfied that RPK's application was made without any merit.

Incidentally, Justice Paul told the court that he wanted to disqualify himself from the proceedings, leaving the hearing to a 2-member panel. After he left the bench, RPK's counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar informed the court that the application for recusal could not be heard by the two remaining judges on the grounds that Section 74 of the Courts of Judicature Act requires the sitting of three Federal Court judges.

However, Justice Nik Hashim ruled that they were empowered to hear the application under Section 78 of the same act.

With that, Justice Nik Hashim invited Justice Paul to join the panel to hear two other applications by RPK, namely:

to have a panel of five or seven judges to hear the appeal on the ground that the case involved complex constitutional issues;

to adduce in the appeal his supplementary affidavit as well as the notes of proceedings of his ongoing sedition trial.

Both applications were dismissed by the bench unanimously.

The court was adjourned to next Monday, Feb 23, to hear the case proper in which RPK wanted the Shah Alam High Court’s decision on Nov 7 last year upheld to sustain his freedom from ISA.

I don't want to say both Manoharan and RPK have reached the end of the road in their appeals under the present judiciary system. But I must say I am gravely concerned.

I managed to hold the hands of Manoharan's wife, see her in the eyes, and to ask her to hold up the high spirits - by Jeff Ooi, Screenshots.