Aug 20 ruling on Muhyiddin’s review bid over reinstated charges

Lawyer says the prosecution’s appeal that reversed an earlier High Court ruling was ‘bad in law’.

(FMT) – The Court of Appeal will rule on Aug 20 whether to allow former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s review application to reinstate a High Court decision acquitting him of abuse of power.

A five-member bench chaired by Justice Azizah Nawawi said they needed time as serious issues were raised during submissions by opposing parties.

Justices Che Ruzima Ghazali, Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim, Azman Abdullah and Azhahari Kamal Ramli were also on the bench hearing the oral submissions.

Muhyiddin’s lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik today submitted that High Court judge Jamil Hussin used his inherent powers to acquit the former prime minister of the four charges on Aug 15 last year.

He said the prosecution’s appeal to the Court of Appeal that reversed Jamil’s ruling was bad in law.

“The three-member Court of Appeal bench lacked the jurisdiction to hear the prosecution’s appeal as it did not comply with Section 50 of the Courts of Judicature Act (CoJA),” he said.

Section 50 states that the Court of Appeal can hear an appeal only if the High Court acted in its original appellate jurisdiction or used its revisionary powers in criminal cases.

Deputy public prosecutor Dusuki Mokhtar meanwhile said Jamil’s purported decision made under inherent jurisdiction was in reality an exercise of his revisionary jurisdiction.

“As such, it is appealable to the Court of Appeal under Section 50 of CoJA,” he added.

He added that the prosecution would be deprived of justice if it was denied the right to appeal Jamil’s ruling.

Dusuki also said the provisions in CoJA and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) should be read harmoniously to prevent oppression and the abuse of the court process.

Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, who assisted Dusuki, said the prosecution filed an appeal against Jamil’s decision as his ruling had finally disposed of Muhyiddin’s rights.

He said Muhyiddin should have gone to the sessions court with his challenge that the charges were groundless under Section 173(g) of the CPC.

Fellow deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib meanwhile said the prosecution could not commence a trial in the sessions court when an accused went to the High Court and urged the judge to quash unclear charges.

Muhyiddin was charged with abusing his power as prime minister between Feb 8 and Aug 20, 2021 in connection with the Jana Wibawa programme by seeking to obtain RM232.5 million for his “associate”, Bersatu.

He pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out to him in the sessions court before judge Azura Alwi on March 10.

On Feb 28, Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail, who led a three-member Court of Appeal bench, said the charges had listed the necessary ingredients to establish an offence under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.

Hadhariah, who sat with Justices Azmi Arifin and S Komathy, said the High Court had erred in law by holding that the charges were defective.

Muhyiddin then filed the review application, urging the five-member bench to restore the High Court ruling.

If Muhyiddin’s application is dismissed, he will have to return to the sessions court to face the four charges. He will be acquitted if the review is allowed.

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin told reporters that his legal team had submitted to the best of its abilities and expressed hope for a favourable outcome.