PUTRAJAYA: The prosecution has filed an appeal in the Federal Court to determine if a coroner has the jurisdiction to hear and punish anyone who commits contempt of court.
This follows last month’s Court of Appeal ruling that a coroner investigating cause of death has such powers under the Subordinates Court Act.
Senior federal counsel Mankiranjit Kaur confirmed with FMT that a notice of appeal to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling was filed on Feb 17.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) will proceed to file its petition of appeal after obtaining the judgment and notes of evidence from the Court of Appeal.
In dismissing an appeal by former attorney-general Tommy Thomas, a three-member bench, chaired by judge Suraya Othman, on Feb 8 also ruled that contempt is punishable even if it takes place outside the courtroom.
On Jan 28, 2020, then judicial commissioner Meor Hashimi Abdul Hamid said the coroner’s court had jurisdiction to grant leave to initiate committal proceedings against Thomas for filing an affidavit during the inquest of firefighter Adib Mohd Kassim.
However, the coroner did not find Thomas guilty of contempt due to non-disclosure of material facts by Adib’s father, Kassim Abdul Hamid.
Thomas came to the Court of Appeal to set aside the High Court ruling on the jurisdiction issue.
Kassim had filed an application for a committal order against Thomas for allegedly insulting the coroner’s court through the filing of an affidavit by the AGC on April 3, 2019, which indicated that his son’s death was not due to injuries caused by a person.
He also accused Thomas of committing contempt by issuing a media statement on May 28, 2019 while the inquest into Adib’s death was under way.
Thomas was the attorney-general from June 2018 to February 2020.
On Sept 27, 2019, coroner Rofiah Mohamad had ruled that “more than two unidentified persons” had killed Adib, who died after succumbing to injuries he sustained after being sent to the scene of a riot outside the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya.
Adib, 24, a member of the Subang Jaya fire and rescue department, was seriously injured during the riot on Nov 27, 2018 and died at the National Heart Institute on Dec 17.