KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court is empowered to rule whether law enforcement agencies can investigate serving superior court judges or whether the public prosecutor can frame charges against them, the solicitor-general argued today.
There was, therefore, no need to refer the matter to the Federal Court, solicitor-general Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh told the High Court.
Activist Haris Ibrahim and lawyers Nur Ain Mustapa and Sreekant Pillai had filed the application early last month seeking several declarations, including whether the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation of judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali is unconstitutional.
The defendants – MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki, MACC and the government – are objecting to the application.
Terrirudin, who was making his maiden appearance in court since assuming his new role on March 25, said a referral application by the three applicants was only an attempt to bring the entire action to be decided by the apex court.
The former chief registrar of the Federal Court said the High Court could decide on the matter and that aggrieved parties could appeal the decision.
Terrirudin said the application also did not fulfil the requirements of a provision (Section 84) of the Courts of Judicature Act.
The first question sought to be referred to the Federal Court is whether criminal investigation bodies are legally permitted to investigate a judge of the superior courts (High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court) only after he/she has been suspended.
Another question is whether the public prosecutor is empowered to institute or conduct any proceeding for an offence against serving judges of the superior courts.
Lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, representing the trio, submitted that this was a suitable case for the apex court to decide as it concerned “grave constitutional” issues relating to the judiciary.
“It is an urgent issue to be resolved as it also involves public perception of the independence of the judiciary,” said Malik, who was assisted by A Surendra Ananth.
Judge Noorin Badaruddin will deliver her ruling on July 19.
MACC has dismissed criticism over its probe on Nazlan, maintaining that it has the authority to investigate any public official, including judges.
Nazlan lodged a police report in April over a report by blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin alleging that the former was being investigated for unexplained money in his bank account.
Nazlan was the trial judge who convicted and sentenced Najib Razak on seven charges relating to RM42 million in funds belonging to SRC International on July 28, 2020.
Last December, the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and the Federal Court has fixed 10 days from Aug 15 to hear the final appeal.