Govt to challenge ruling giving immunity for ex-arbitration chief

Former AIAC director N Sundra Rajoo (left) with lawyers Abdul Shukor Ahmad, K Shanmuga and Baljit Sidhu at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 31.

PETALING JAYA: The government has filed an appeal to reverse last month’s High Court ruling that former Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) director N Sundra Rajoo enjoys immunity from prosecution from acts committed while in office.

Sundra’s lawyer, Abdul Shukor Ahmad, said the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed a notice of appeal last week and a copy has been extended to them.

“Since the notice has been filed, the judge has to provide the written grounds soon for the AGC to file their memorandum of appeal,” he said.

The memorandum will mention where the judge had erred in law and facts for the Court of Appeal’s consideration.

On Dec 31, judge Mariana Yahaya quashed Sundra’s three counts of criminal breach of trust amounting to RM1 million as he was found to have enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

“Since the applicant is immune from suits and other proceedings, the charges are void and unlawful,” she said in allowing Sundra’s judicial review application.

Mariana said Sundra’s immunity could not be arbitrarily waived as this would be against the 2013 Host Country Agreement signed between Putrajaya and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO), the parent body of AIAC.

She also cited the Kuala Lumpur Regional Arbitration Centre (Privilege and Immunity) Regulations which state that any waiver of immunity can only be done by AALCO.

She said it was revealed that Wisma Putra had written to AALCO to waive Sundra’s immunity, but that this was rejected by the secretary-general.

Sundra, who was head of AIAC from 2010 until late 2018, had sought a declaration that he is entitled to protection for acts and omissions in his official capacity.

He also sought a declaration that immunity cannot be waived under the act, and that neither the current acting director nor any officer from the centre can strip him of this protection.

Sundra claimed to enjoy immunity as the centre was set up in 1978, following diplomatic correspondence between Malaysia and AALCO.