PUTRAJAYA: Rosmah Mansor is seeking leave of the Federal Court to challenge the late Gopal Sri Ram’s appointment as ad hoc prosecutor in a corruption case linked to a RM1.25 billion solar power project in Sarawak which saw her convicted and sentenced in September last year.
A key question she says the apex court must consider is whether Attorney-General (AG) Idrus Harun was entitled to backdate Sri Ram’s appointment to Nov 15, 2018, given that Idrus was only appointed AG in March 2020.
That is one of six questions the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak says entitles her to have the merits of her appeal heard by the top court.
Under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, an applicant must satisfy the Federal Court that the proposed appeal contains novel legal and constitutional questions of public importance which are being raised for the first time.
Rosmah filed her leave application through solicitors Akberdin & Co yesterday.
The remaining questions posed concern how a three-month deadline imposed on applications for leave to commence judicial review ought to be calculated and whether Rosmah had “good reason” for an extension of time in the circumstances of her case.
Rosmah contends that Sri Ram’s appointment under Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code did not extend to her corruption trial.
Instead, she said the former Federal Court judge was only appointed by Tommy Thomas, who served as AG between June 2018 and Feb 28, 2020, to handle the prosecution of 1MDB-related cases.
Rosmah filed her application to commence a judicial review of that appointment in the High Court on June 24 last year shortly after a ruling by the Federal Court on May 27 that an aggrieved party seeking to challenge the appointment of a private lawyer as ad hoc prosecutor, must do so by way of a civil, and not a criminal motion.
She sought a court order to set aside Sri Ram’s appointment as well as nullify the proceedings in the case.
On Aug 30, last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed her application, upholding a preliminary objection raised by the AG that it had been filed out of time.
In his ruling, Justice Ahmad Kamal Shahid agreed with senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan that the three-month deadline for Rosmah’s application should have been calculated from Nov 15, 2018, the day Rosmah was charged.
On June 22, a three-member Court of Appeal bench dismissed Rosmah’s appeal over that decision. An application for an extension of time to file the application was also disallowed.
Justice See Mee Chun, who delivered the unanimous judgment of the court, said the time period within which the application should have been filed began to run at the latest on May 21, 2021, when Idrus issued a backdated fiat appointing Sri Ram to prosecute Rosmah.
Sri Ram passed away on Jan 29.
On Sept 1 last year, then High Court judge Zaini Mazlan convicted Rosmah 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 power project.
She was also convicted of receiving bribes amounting to RM5 million from Saidi, through Rizal, at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya on Dec 20, 2016, and another charge of receiving another RM1.5 million from Saidi at Jalan Langgak Duta on Sept 7, 2017.
Zaini sentenced her to 10 years’ jail on all three charges but ordered them to run concurrently.
The court said if Rosmah failed to pay the RM970 million fine, she will have to serve another 10 years in prison after she completes her initial 10-year sentence.
The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear the appeal from her conviction and sentence on July 11.