Court strikes out CBT charges against ex-arbitration centre director

Former Asian International Arbitration Centre director N Sundra Rajoo (right) and counsel Baljit Sidhu outside the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court today struck out the three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges amounting to RM1 million against former Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) director N Sundra Rajoo.

Sessions judge Azura Alwi said the criminal proceedings before her were quashed as she was bound by a Dec 31 High Court ruling.

“It is ordered the bail money to be refunded and his passport to be returned,” she said in dismissing the prosecution’s request for further case management pending the government’s appeal before the Court of Appeal.

Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Zaki Mohd Salleh urged the court to give another date on the grounds the High Court ruling was wrong and illegal, and an appeal had been filed.

Lawyer Baljit Sidhu submitted that the Sessions Court was bound to follow the High Court to quash the charges as Sundra enjoyed immunity from prosecution from acts committed while in office as declared by the High Court.

“If the High Court’s order is not followed, this will constitute contempt,” he said.

Lawyers Abdul Shukor Ahmad, K Shanmuga and Dinesh Kumar also appeared for Sundra.

Last month, High Court judge Mariana Yahaya quashed Sundra’s CBT charges as Sundra had immunity which could not be arbitrarily waived.

Mariana said removing Sundra’s immunity 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 could only be done by AALCO.

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

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

He also sought a declaration that immunity cannot be waived, and that neither the current acting director nor any officer from the centre could 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.