PUTRAJAYA, Jan 19 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak failed in his attempt to recuse one of the sitting judges in his review application over his conviction in the RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd case.
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli said the court was not persuaded by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s argument that Justice Datuk Abu Bakar Jais, who is a Court of Appeal judge should recuse himself from hearing the review application.
“In our view, the law is clear that the Chief Justice (Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat) is vested with discretionary power to empanel the Court of Appeal judge (Justice Abu Bakar) to sit at the panel of the Federal Court, pursuant to Section 122 (2) of the Federal Constitution.
“For the same reason, we reject the argument that Justice Abu Bakar should not be involved in the hearing of the review application.
“In the circumstances, the preliminary objection is dismissed. We shall proceed to hear the application,” said Justice Abdul Rahman.
The other judges on the panel are Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan.
Earlier, Muhammad Shafee raised an objection, saying that Justice Abu Bakar should not be present on the panel on this matter.
The counsel also wanted Justice Abu Bakar to recuse himself, stating that only Federal Court judges should be on the bench.
Muhammad Shafee said according to Section 74 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1974, the composition of the Federal Court judges must consist of all Federal Court judges.
Lead prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram countered that such an arrangement to co-opt a Court of Appeal judge is allowed under Article 122 (2) of the Federal Constitution.
Furthermore, he said Justice Tengku Maimun has fulfilled the requirements of Article 122 with the selection of Justice Abu Bakar on the panel.
Najib in his review application is seeking to overturn the decision made by a five-member bench of the Federal Court led by Justice Tengku Maimun on August 23 last year in upholding his conviction and 12-year jail sentence and fine for misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.