PETALING JAYA: Zaid Ibrahim says the decision of the Federal Court to deny him leave to challenge the discretion of Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali in not prosecuting Prime Minister Najib Razak over the RM2.6 billion donation was the “greatest travesty of them all”.
The former defacto law minister also took issue with the three-man bench led by Chief Justice Raus Sharif.
“All I was asking for was leave (that is, the permission of the court) to start an action against the attorney-general. I don’t have to prove anything at this stage, as I just need to show there are serious questions to be considered.
“The threshold is low and generally, all over the world, leave will be granted without much fuss. Yet, I could not even pass the gate,” Zaid said, questioning the rationale for the decision.
Last Friday, the 18-month battle by the Malaysian Bar and two government critics to review the prosecutorial power of the attorney-general (AG) in refusing to frame charges agains Najib over the RM2.6 billion donation came to an end.
The Federal Court, in dismissing their leave applications, affirmed the findings of the High Court last year that the AG’s discretion could not be questioned.
Raus said the issue was settled following a series of past cases. Also on the bench were Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Maarop and Justice Azahar Mohamed.
“It is a clear exercise of discretion and his (AG) power cannot be questioned in court. It is not only a good law but a good policy,” Raus said on the unanimous ruling.
Zaid also chided the ruling which he said seemed to protect people in power from being answerable for their actions.
“I know that we cannot question God but it seems that we have to add a few more to the list, such as the prime minister, the home minister, the national fatwa council and now also the attorney-general.
“Furthermore, the chief justice himself presided over this simple application for leave. Isn’t that strange? Why does a simple application need the top gun?”
Meanwhile, speaking about the attempt by his lawyer Gopal Sri Ram to get Raus to recuse himself before the leave application matter was presented, Zaid said it was not right for the chief justice to hear the case due to the parties involved on both sides.
“To be fair, I wasn’t happy that Raus was on the panel because I had openly disagreed with his appointment as chief justice.
He expressed his hope that the chief justice wil reconsider the decision made last Friday, and to “let the law on leave applications to refer any question to the Federal Court stand as a simple matter”.
“Just because my application involves the prime minister and his attorney-general should not change the standard or qualifying threshold.”