No-go for lawyer’s bid to intervene in CJ’s suit on affidavit

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today dismissed an application by lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla to intervene in a suit by the chief justice to expunge an explosive affidavit filed by a senior judge.

Judge Mohd Firuz Jaffril said Haniff had failed to demonstrate how his rights and interests would be directly affected in the hearing of the chief justice to remove certain portions of the affidavit filed by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer.

“The reason that the proposed intervener (Haniff) is a practising lawyer and has a duty and right to participate in any proceeding is not good enough to support his application,” he said.

He added that the Bar Council, which is already holding a watching brief, is the correct body to participate in the proceedings as required under the Legal Profession Act.

Firuz said Haniff’s alternative request to be made an amicus curaie or friend of the court, while noble, must be considered in light of him being Hamid’s lawyer which could lead to conflict of interest.

“This could lead to an issue of perception and put Haniff and this court in an embarrassing situation,” he said.

Haniff filed the application on July 26, saying it was in the interest of justice and to represent Hamid’s interests.

The affidavit in question was filed by Hamid on Feb 14 in support of a lawsuit brought by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, the daughter of the late Karpal Singh.

Haniff said in his application that he had an interest as a lawyer and officer of the court in the expungement of Hamid’s affidavit.

He said the application involved conflict within the judiciary and that he would like to ensure that the court came to a fair and just finding.

Haniff said he was also a subject matter of Sangeet’s action.

Last year, Haniff alleged that the outcome of Karpal’s sedition appeal in 2016 in the Court of Appeal was altered due to judicial interference by a senior judge.

Haniff claimed he was informed that a judge, who has since retired, reportedly meddled in the majority decision to allow Karpal’s appeal and acquit him of the charge.

Judges Mohtarudin Baki and Kamardin Hashim were in the majority to retain the conviction by the High Court while Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, the present chief justice, dissented.

Sangeet subsequently lodged a police report, triggering an ongoing investigation.

Early this year, a five-member Federal Court bench allowed an appeal brought by Karpal’s widow, Gurmeet Kaur, thereby upholding Tengku Maimun’s findings.

Karpal died 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 March 13, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), which is representing the chief justice, applied to expunge parts of Hamid’s affidavit on grounds of relevancy, saying the contents were scandalous and hearsay evidence.

Sangeet, in her action in January to sue anyone holding the post of chief justice, said then-top judge Richard Malanjum had failed to defend and preserve the integrity of the judiciary.

Hamid alleged in the affidavit that senior judges had intervened in the decision of numerous appeals, including Karpal’s sedition appeal in the Court of Appeal.

He also claimed that some judges had abetted in scams carried out by nominees of politicians who had entered into contracts with the government.

He claimed that once the government pulled out of a deal, the private parties would take the government to court to claim compensation.

Firuz has fixed Oct 2 to hear the AGC’s application to delete a major portion of Hamid’s affidavit.