PUTRAJAYA: Senior lawyer Gopal Sri Ram is qualified to prosecute Rosmah Mansor in her ongoing corruption trial linked to a RM1.25 billion solar project, the Federal Court ruled today.
A three-member bench led by Federal Court judge Zawawi Salleh said the criminal court had no jurisdiction to grant declaratory relief sought by Rosmah to disqualify Sri Ram as the prosecuting lawyer in the case.
“We agree with the reason proferred by the Court of Appeal. We are of the opinion that there is no inherent jurisdiction to grant declaratory relief ,” said Zawawi, who sat with Vernon Ong and Zabidin Mohd Diah.
Zawawi said this was because the written laws like the Courts of Judicature Act, the Rules of Court, and the Special Relief Act only conferred inherent power to the civil court.
He said the Criminal Procedure Code was a complete and comprehensive law relating to procedures in criminal proceedings.
“Therefore, the question of a criminal court having judicial power to grant the relief sought does not arise. The appeal is dismissed,” he said.
Following today’s ruling, Sri Ram can appear in the High Court on July 7 when trial judge Zaini Mazlan delivers his decision at the close of the defence case.
Rosmah, the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, is accused of soliciting RM187.5 million from former Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin, through her former aide Rizal Mansor, as an inducement to help the company secure the solar project for rural schools in Sarawak.
She is also accused of receiving bribes amounting to RM5 million from Saidi, through Rizal, at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya on Dec 20, 2016.
On Dec 6, the Court of Appeal dismissed Rosmah’s application to remove Sri Ram and declare her ongoing corruption trial a nullity.
A three-member bench chaired by Hanipah Farikullah also allowed a preliminary objection by the prosecution that it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
Hanipah, who sat with M Gunalan and Hashim Hamzah, said nothing in the CPC allows a criminal court to give any declaratory relief sought under the Specific Relief Act.
In raising the preliminary objection, Sri Ram said a criminal court could only acquit, convict or quash a charge for being groundless.
He said Rosmah should have filed a judicial review in a civil court for a declaration.
He also said a criminal court could not entertain Rosmah’s appeal as the order made by Zaini was in the course of the trial and not a final ruling.
Rosmah could only raise his removal as a ground of appeal later if the High Court judge finds her guilty of the corruption charges, he added.
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