Senior judge interfered in Karpal’s sedition appeal, says lawyer

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer today claimed that the outcome of the late Karpal Singh’s sedition appeal two years ago was altered due to judicial interference by a senior judge.

Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said he was recently informed of the matter where the judge reportedly meddled in the majority decision to allow Karpal’s appeal and acquit him of the charge.

“The panel was asked to reverse the ruling,” the lawyer who usually appears for Dr Mahathir Mohamad in civil cases said in a Facebook post.

Haniff did not reveal the identity of the judge but claimed that due to his interference, if correct, Karpal, who was a politician and senior member of the legislature, could not clear his name even after his death.

Karpal passed away in a road accident on April 17, 2014.

He had been charged with sedition for saying the removal of Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar by the late Perak Sultan, Sultan Azlan Shah, and the appointment of Zambry Abdul Kadir in his place, could be questioned in court.

On Feb 21, 2014, the High Court found Karpal guilty. On May 30, 2016, his conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The majority, consisting of justices Mohtarudin Baki and Kamardin Hashim, however, allowed the late Karpal’s appeal on his RM4,000 fine, reducing it to RM1,800.

This meant that Karpal’s widow, Gurmeet Kaur, could receive his pension benefits.

Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat however ruled in favour of Karpal to set aside the conviction by the High Court.

Gurmeet, who is acting for Karpal’s estate, is appealing the conviction in the Federal Court.

Haniff’s claim comes after Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer told an international law conference on Aug 16 that he was “severely reprimanded” by a “top judge” for his dissenting judgment in the M Indira Gandhi unilateral conversion case.

Hamid said he was subsequently not assigned or empanelled to hear cases relating to the Federal Constitution and public interest matters.

Haniff also claimed there was interference in the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) over the representation to drop charges against accused persons.

He cited a case where Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had personally requested more time to look into a representation, but his request was rejected by an officer within three days.

“This leaves the question of whether there are elements in the AGC to sabotage the administration of justice without Thomas’ knowledge,” he said.

He also questioned the outcome of the investigation into reports that senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah allegedly received RM9.5 million from former prime minister Najib Razak.

“There has been no public revelation on investigations or prosecution although whistleblower site Sarawak Report broke the story a year ago,” he said.

He added that it would be difficult if the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission were asked to investigate the alleged interference in the judiciary and AGC.

“I am suggesting that a special task force be formed to conduct a preliminary inquiry in the judiciary and AGC with a view to recommend the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry,” he said.