KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and seven others have been given two weeks to file their defence in response to a suit filed by the widow of private investigator P Balasubramaniam.
Lead counsel Gopal Sri Ram, who appeared for A Santamil Selvi, said this came about after Justice Hue Siew Kheng dismissed their applications to stay their defence pending the outcome of a striking-out suit.
All the defendants will have to file their defence on or before Oct 25.
Sri Ram said the judge held that the defendants did not show any special circumstances to warrant their applications.
“Additionally, the plaintiffs (Santamil and her children) had argued that they had a fundamental constitutional right of access to justice,” he told reporters.
Sri Ram said the judge felt the grant of stay might prevent the plaintiffs from exercising their rights.
Hue, who delivered her ruling in chambers, fixed case management for Nov 1, where a date for the striking out application would likely be fixed.
Meanwhile lawyer Americk Sidhu, who appeared with Sri Ram, said one of the defendants, businessman Deepak Jaikishan had written to the judge to inform her that he would appear in person to contest the suit.
“Deepak has withdrawn his application to strike out the suit,” he said.
In August, Santamil Selvi, who is also acting for the estate of Balasubramaniam, filed the action for suffering intentional harm as a result of their exile in India.
The prime minister and the other defendants then applied to annul the suit but did not want to file their defence until the striking-out application was decided.
Others named as defendants are Najib’s brothers Ahmad Johari and Mohd Nazim, lawyers Cecil Abraham, Sunil Abraham and Arunampalam Mariampillai, and commissioner for oaths Zainal Abidin Muhayat.
Santamil Selvi said the defendants had deprived her family of a normal life, and caused them to suffer financial and non-financial losses.
They claim to have suffered trauma and mental anguish caused by the defendants, and to have been deprived of a home in familiar surroundings.
Santamil Selvi, together with her two children, Kishen and Menaga, are seeking damages with interest for losses suffered from July 2008 as a result of their five-year displacement.
Balasubramaniam, who was better known as PI Bala, was previously embroiled in a controversy over his two conflicting statutory declarations (SD) in the high-profile 2006 murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
In the present suit, the family said the defendants had caused Balasubramaniam’s second SD to be drafted without his instruction and, further, caused him to sign it under threat and inducement.
He was forced to leave Malaysia for India in a hurry after signing the second SD in July 2008, a day after the first was released.
The second SD dated July 4, 2008, is supposed to have cleared Najib of any involvement in the case.
Balasubramaniam, in the second SD, said he wished to retract the entire contents of his first SD dated July 1, as it had been made under duress.
On July 3, 2008, Balasubramaniam told a packed press conference, organised by PKR, that the contents of the first SD, which implicated Najib and several others in the murder of Altantuya, were true.
Balasubramaniam, a key witness in the Altantuya trial, died of a heart attack on March 15, 2013, weeks after returning from India.
He had worked for political analyst and Najib associate Abdul Razak Baginda, who had hired him to monitor Altantuya before her disappearance.