High Court to determine if ex-KL arbitration centre director has immunity

N Sundra Rajoo. (Sundrarajoo.com pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has ordered the High Court to hear a claim by a former director of the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) that the attorney-general (AG) cannot file criminal charges against him.

A three-member bench, chaired by Abdul Rahman Sebli, said the High Court judge, who dismissed N Sundra Rajoo’s leave application for judicial review, did not properly address the matter.

“The judge had prematurely gone into the merits of the judicial review when the matter was only at the leave stage,” he said of the unanimous ruling.

The bench also ordered that Sundra Rajoo’s complaint be heard before a new judge and fixed the case for mention on May 29.

On March 26, judge Nordin Hassan dismissed Sundra Rajoo’s leave application as the matter was not amenable to judicial review as the AG has unfettered discretion over prosecution matters.

He said Sundra Rajoo was in fact asking the court to review the ruling of the AG, who is also the public prosecutor.

“Having considered the cause papers and submissions, this court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter and cannot stop the AG from prosecuting,” Nordin had said.

Lawyers K Shanmuga, Abdul Shukor Ahmad and Baljit Sidhu represented Sundra Rajoo today while federal counsel S Narkunavathy appeared for the AG.

Sundra Rajoo, who was head of the AIAC from 2010 until late last year, filed the judicial review, seeking a declaration that he is entitled to protection for acts and omissions in his official capacity.

He also sought a declaration that the immunity cannot be waived under the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1992, and that neither the current acting director nor any officer from the centre can strip him of this protection.

Sundra Rajoo claims he enjoys immunity as the centre was set up in 1978, following diplomatic correspondence between Malaysia and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation.

He is seeking an order to stop the AG from framing charges against him for any acts or omissions during his term of office.

On March 26, Sundra Rajoo was also charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with three counts of criminal breach of trust amounting to RM1 million.

The offences were allegedly committed at the AIAC premises on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin here between Aug 17 and Dec 8 last year.

The criminal trial has been put on hold pending a decision in the judicial review matter.

Sundra Rajoo, a FIFA Ethics Committee judge, was held overnight in November after flying in from Zurich, where FIFA has its headquarters.

He was released after a magistrate dismissed an application for a remand order by MACC on grounds that he had diplomatic immunity as head of the AIAC.