Appeals Court’s decision to order Karpal to enter defence not appealable

(Bernama) — The Appeals Court’s decision to order lawyer Karpal Singh to enter his defence on a charge of uttering seditious words against the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah at a press conference in 2009, was not appealable to the Federal Court, rules the Federal Court, here, today.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin leading a five-member bench unanimously allowed the prosecution’s application to dismiss Karpal Singh’s appeal.

Justice Zulkefli said the decision by the Appeals Court was not appealable because Karpal Singh’s matter was still pending at the High Court and the matter had not been finally disposed of.

The bench, also comprising Federal Court judges Datuk Hashim Yusoff, Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Embong, Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar and Datuk Hasan Lah accepted the submission put forward by deputy public prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin that the Appeals Court’s decision to order Karpal Singh, 72, to enter his defence was not appealable by virtue of Section 3 of the Courts of Judicature Act (CJA) 1964.

Section 3 states that the court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain appeals on interlocutory matters which were decided in the course of a trial because the ruling is considered not a final order and does not finally dispose of the rights of the party.

Justice Zulkefli also ruled that Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution on equality before the law, which Karpal was arguing for, could not be read in isolation as it had to be read together with Article 121 of the Federal Constitution and Section 87 of the CJA.

Karpal Singh earlier submitted that since the prosecution was allowed to appeal to the Federal Court if the decision was not in their favour, he could be allowed to do the same as enshrined in Article 8(1), which guarantees all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

Noorin, however, contended that the principle on equality was not absolute, adding that Karpal Singh’s right had not been finally disposed of.

On Jan 20, the Appeal’s Court allowed the prosecution’s appeal to set aside the High Court’s decision to acquit and discharge the DAP national chairman on the sedition charge at the end of the prosecution’s case without ordering him to make his defence.

Karpal Singh was alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar of Perak by the sultan could be questioned in the court of law, at his legal firm in Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur, between noon and 12.30pm on Feb 6, 2009.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has fixed May 30 and May 31 for Karpal Singh to enter his defence.

Karpal Singh has also filed an application seeking the Appeals Court to review its own decision. The Appeals Court has yet to fix the hearing date.