Court says Anwar can challenge Pardons Board’s decision

anwar-makhamahPUTRAJAYA: Anwar Ibrahim and his family members today won the right to appear before the Federal Court to determine whether the Pardons Board’s decision making process could be subjected to judicial scrutiny.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench led by Rohana Yusof said two questions of law posed by the appellants need to be argued before the apex court now, following an amendment to the Federal Constitution in 1994.

“We find the appellants had met the requirement under Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 to refer the questions before the Federal Court,” Rohana said of the unanimous ruling.

The bench then set aside the decision of the High Court last year to decline the appellants leave for judicial review and also its refusal to refer the questions straight to the Federal Court.

In accordance with procedure, the bench today sent back the matter to the High Court for case management on Feb 2.

The High Court will then prepare the necessary record before sending the case to the Federal Court.

Earlier, lawyer N Surendran, appearing for Anwar, his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and their daughters Nurul Izzah and Nurul Nuha, submitted that the High Court was wrong in deciding that it could not entertain his clients’ case in relation to the pardon.

He also said the High Court judge was also wrong in law for her refusal to refer the legal questions of constitutional importance to the Federal Court.

Surendran said the judge misapplied two Federal Court rulings on the Rulers’ power to pardon without considering Article 40 (1A) which was introduced in 1994.

He said clemency was a constitutional right of prisoners who had exhausted their appeals through the courts and not the pregorative power of Rulers.

Government lawyer Suzana Atan said the appellants’ case could not be entertained in court as their legal challenge against the Pardons Board amounted to challenging the Agong.

On June 24, 2015, the appellants filed the legal challenge against the board’s dismissal of the clemency petition on March 16 of the same year.

They had named the Pardons Board, the attorney-general and the Malaysian government as respondents.

Anwar, 69, is serving a five-year jail term after losing his appeal at the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015, to set aside his conviction on a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.