Court misses chance to review AG’s power, says ex-Bar president

Steven-Thiru_apandi-ali_law_600PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Bar has said it is disappointed with the outcome of the Federal Court ruling to refuse a leave application on the prosecutorial power of the attorney-general (AG).

Its immediate past president Steven Thiru, who filed the suit during his term last year, said the bench had missed an excellent opportunity to review the AG’s power in his capacity as public prosecutor.

“In other Commonwealth jurisdictions like Singapore, it has been declared that the the public prosecutor’s power could be reviewed by the court,” said Steven who was present in court.

He said the Federal Court had recently held that judicial power was with the judiciary and judges could check any instrument of the executive branch of the government for acting beyond its authority.

“It is a pity they declined to give leave to appeal against the ruling of the Court of Appeal and High Court,” he told reporters.

Earlier today, a three-man bench threw out the leave application by the Bar and two government critics, with Chief Justice Raus Sharif saying that the AG’s discretion could not be questioned in court.

Last year the Bar, government critics Khairuddin Abu Hassan and former minister Zaid Ibrahim challenged AG Mohamed Apandi Ali’s decision to close a case following allegations that RM2.6 billion was deposited in Najib Razak’s bank accounts.

Justice Hanipah Farikullah dismissed the leave applications to initiate a judicial review by the three last November and the Court of Appeal upheld the findings in April.

Meanwhile, Bar president George Varughese said the Bar was also disappointed that Raus decided to hear the leave application despite an application made to disqualify him.

“We raised the issue that the constitutionality of his appointment after Aug 4 will be discussed at the Bar’s extraordinary general meeting,” he told reporters after the court verdict.

Lawyer Tommy Thomas had told the bench that the Bar would also institute legal proceedings against Raus and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin who would be named as defendants.

Three weeks ago the Bar declared that the appointment of Raus and Zulkefli as additional judges to remain in their present administrative posts after their mandatory retirement was “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Raus and Zulkefli were due to retire on Aug 4 and Sept 27 respectively.

However, Raus has been given a three year extension while Zulkelfi will remain in office for two years.