Court gives AG leave to cite Isham Jalil for contempt

The High Court has allowed the attorney-general (AG) to initiate contempt proceedings against sacked Umno member Isham Jalil over remarks made concerning Najib Razak’s 1MDB-related cases.

(FMT) – Justice Noorin Badaruddin made the ruling after hearing submissions from deputy public prosecutor Mustaffa Kunyalam and lawyer Azhar Harun, who represented Isham.

“I am allowing the application and the prosecution is to take the necessary action against the alleged contemnor,” she said.

Speaking after the proceedings, Mustaffa said the court was satisfied that the AG, the applicant, had established a prima facie case against Isham.

“We will serve the cause papers within eight days from today for him to answer the charge,” he told reporters.

The court also fixed the matter for case management on April 23.

Filed on Dec 28 last year, the application concerned statements Isham is alleged to have made during an interview titled “Townhall for justice: Keadilan sebenarnya untuk siapa” published on Sept 30 last year via a Facebook account known as Malaya Post.

In an affidavit filed in support of the leave application, Mustaffa claimed that Isham had during the interview commented on Najib’s 1MDB and SRC International trials, and the Federal Court’s conduct of the final appeal in the latter case.

Isham is also alleged to have accused Justices Collin Lawrence Sequerah and Nazlan Ghazali, who presided over the 1MDB and SRC International trials, respectively, of bias and said they ought to have withdrawn from hearing the cases.

Both Sequerah and Nazlan now sit in the Court of Appeal.

Mustaffa also alleged that Isham had claimed that the panel of five judges, led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who heard Najib’s final appeal of his conviction and sentence in the SRC International case, had judged the case unfairly.

According to the affidavit, the statements made by Isham could undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary and could be considered interference with the administration of justice.

Earlier today, Mustaffa submitted that Isham’s statements were in contempt of court.

“What he uttered is an interference in the administration of justice,” he said when urging the court to allow leave.

Azhar, who was allowed to submit despite the application being made ex-parte, said Isham’s remarks must be seen in the context of free speech as guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

He said in the United Kingdom, scandalising the court is no longer part of common law and Isham did not commit contempt in the face of the court.

“He did not throw a shoe or insult a judge in open court,” he added.

In reply, Mustaffa said free speech only aided those who made academic discussions with common courtesy and without ridiculing judges.