Court dismisses Dr M’s appeal to restore his suits on judicial appointments

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today dismissed Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s appeal to reinstate his judicial review applications to challenge the appointments of two former top judges.

A three-member bench chaired by Abdul Rahman Sebli said the respondent in this appeal, former prime minister Najib Razak, was no longer in a position to advise the Yang Di Pertuan Agong.

“The appeal has become redundant and an exercise in futility as candidly admitted by the appellant’s lawyer,” Abdul Rahman said.

Others on the bench were Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Hasnah Mohamed Hashim.

Mahathir is represented by counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdullah.

Haniff asked the court to dismiss the appeal to allow him to go to the Federal Court for a ruling on whether its decision last year was correct.

“The decision of the Federal Court will be binding on the Court of Appeal,” he said.

Haniff later told reporters he would file an appeal in the Federal Court.

Federal counsel Alice Loke reminded the court that the case has been overtaken by events.

She said Mahathir, who wanted the court to compel Najib to advise the king to revoke the appointments of the then Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, has now become prime minister.

Lawyer Steven Thiru, who appeared as a friend of the court on behalf of the Bar, said Mahathir had the legal right to commence action just as any other citizen of this country.

“The issue (the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli) is not academic and we are of the view the Federal Court erred in law,” he said.

Thiru said the Court of Appeal could hear the appeal and decide whether the apex court was right in declaring the matter as academic.

On Sept 24, a six-member Federal Court bench declined to rule on the constitutionality of the decision to extend the tenures of Raus and Zulkefli.

Zainun Ali, who delivered the unanimous judgment, said there was no dispute as Raus and Zulkefli had resigned from office and their replacements had been made.

Mahathir filed two judicial reviews in August and September 2017, naming Raus, Zulkefli and Putrajaya as respondents.

The High Court dismissed Mahathir’s leave for judicial review application on grounds that it was frivolous, saying he had no arguable case to obtain a mandamus order to revoke the judges’ appointments.