PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has fixed Aug 6 to hear Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s application to review a previous ruling that former leader Najib Razak cannot be sued for alleged misfeasance in public office in connection with the 1MDB case.
Mahathir’s lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said deputy court registrar Wan Fatimah Zaharah Wan Yussof, who set the date today, gave Najib two weeks to file an affidavit in reply to Mahathir’s April 26 application.
“Najib’s lawyer informed Wan Fatimah that he needs time because they (the legal firm) were unable to get instructions due to the quandary he is now facing,” Haniff told reporters.
Lawyer Caleb Goh from legal firm Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak appeared for Najib.
On May 9, the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan swept to power at the federal level after defeating Najib’s Barisan Nasional.
Hanif said the grounds for review were that Chief Justice Raus Sharif was biased, and the bench had misapplied the law in making its decision.
On Feb 27, a three-man bench chaired by Raus refused leave to Mahathir and former Umno divisional leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan who had sought to overturn a Court of Appeal ruling.
The appellate court affirmed a High Court decision that Najib could not be sued for abusing his office as prime minister as he was not a public officer.
High Court judge Abu Bakar Jais, in allowing Najib to strike out the suit, said the terms “public officer” and “public office” in the Interpretation Act were only applicable to the class of civil servants as stated under Article 132 (1) of the constitution.
“Clearly, the defendant (Najib) is not a member of any services listed in the constitution,” he said.
He also said Article 132(3) stated that the public service excluded the office of any member of the administration in the federation or state.
He said Article 160 (2) further stated that a member of the administration in Putrajaya was meant to be a person holding the office of minister (which includes prime minister), deputy minister or parliamentary secretary and political secretary.
These provisions, he said, cumulatively would indicate that Najib was not a public officer and did not hold public office.
In their statement of claim filed in March 2016, Mahathir and Khairuddin said they had the legal standing to bring the action against Najib.
They traced the chronology of the 1MDB investigations dating back to March 2015, from the formation of a special task force, to then-attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail’s sudden resignation, and the sacking of former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
They said Najib had continuously interfered with the due process of the law to ensure all the relevant authorities discontinued their investigations into his alleged misconduct over RM2.6 billion and another RM42 million found in his private bank accounts.
The plaintiffs wanted a declaration that Najib had committed the tort of misfeasance and breach of fiduciary duty in public office.
However, Najib applied to the court to strike out the suit on grounds that it was unsustainable, frivolous and vexatious.
Haniff said should the review application be allowed, the Feb 27 decision would be set aside and another bench would be constituted to rehear Mahathir and Khairuddin’s leave application.