PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today struck out a sedition appeal by Anwar Ibrahim’s former lawyer on grounds that the matter was now academic.
A three-man bench chaired by Badariah Sahamid said there would be no appeal before the court following the public prosecutor’s decision last week to withdraw the charge against N Surendran.
Surendran filed the appeal in the Court of Appeal after the High Court in 2015 dismissed his application to strike out the charge on grounds that it was defective.
He had been charged with uttering seditious remarks relating to Anwar’s second sodomy case at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya on Aug 8, 2014.
In 2015, however, Parliament approved an amendment to the law making it no longer an offence to make a fair comment on the administration of justice.
Last week, Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court judge Emelia Kaswati Mohamad Khalid acquitted Surendran as the prosecution no longer wished to continue with the case.
Counsel Gopal Sri Ram today urged the bench to adjourn the case to allow Surendran’s original lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar to make further submissions.
“The bench could decide whether this appeal is academic after hearing his (Gurdial’s) submission,” said Sri Ram who was standing in for Gurdial.
He said the charge against Surendran was of public interest as it was an interference in the the duty of a lawyer.
Surendran was a defence counsel for Anwar in the Sodomy 2 case where the conviction was affirmed by the Federal Court in early 2015.
However, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong gave Anwar a full pardon in May due to miscarriage of justice.
Lawyer Latheefa Koya who appeared with Sri Ram said the court must deliver a ruling on whether the prosecution could continue with the charge despite the fact that it is no longer an offence to criticise the administration of justice following the amendment to a provision in the Sedition Act.
The charge against Surendran came about in 2014 after his comments were posted in a YouTube video criticising then-prime minister Najib Razak for purportedly mounting a political conspiracy against Anwar, who was the opposition leader at the time.
Deputy public prosecutor Jasmee Hamiza Jaafar said the appeal had become academic and there was nothing for the court to rule since the charge had been withdrawn.