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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

May 16 to hear Lingam challenging Royal Commission findings


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - The High Court has set aside May 16 next year to hear the argument by senior lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam and two former chief justices who are challenging the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on a controversial video clip recording of images of a person purported to be the lawyer on the telephone, talking about the appointment of judges.

High Court deputy registrar Halilah Suboh fixed the date in chambers upon meeting the parties when the case came up for case management.

Lingam, who was representing himself, told reporters that High Court judge Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh would hear the merit of the judicial review application filed by them over the commission’s findings.

On Aug 24, the Court of Appeal granted leave for judicial review sought by the trio and ordered the case to be remitted back to the High Court to hear the merit of the case.

The Appeals Court made the order in a 2-1 majority decision when allowing the appeal by Lingam, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin against the High Court’s refusal to grant leave for their applications for judicial review to challenge the findings.

Justices Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud and Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim allowed the appeal while Justice Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus dissented.

On Dec 12, 2008, the High Court ruled that the commission’s findings were not reviewable on grounds that they were not a pronouncement of a decision and thereby, did not affect the rights of the individuals or their obligations.

However, the Appeals Court held that the High Court, in dismissing the trio’s leave application against the commission’s findings, had applied the wrong test in interpreting the prima facie threshold to be passed under Order 53 of the Rules of the High Court 1980.

Following the ruling, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed for leave to appeal at the Federal Court over the Appeals Court’s decision and the apex court set Oct 5 for case management.

The five-member panel of commissioners who heard the Inquiry, in their report, had found the video clip showing Lingam in a telephone conversation with Ahmad Fairuz over judicial appointments to be authentic.

The commission had also recommended that appropriate course of action be taken against six individuals, namely Lingam, Ahmad Fairuz, Mohd Eusoff, business tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for misconduct.

It found sufficient evidence to investigate the six men for offences under the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, Penal Code and the Legal Profession Act 1976.

Except for Dr Mahathir, the other five filed for leave for a judicial review in an attempt to quash the inquiry’s findings. However, Tan and Tengku Adnan withdrew their appeal early this year.

The commissioners - chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim Lip Kiong, retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar, former solicitor-general Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh and Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim -- sat for 17 days to inquire into the 14-minute video clip and concluded its work on Feb 15, 2008. -- Bernama

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