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Monday, January 30, 2012

Anwar's lawyers walk out of Syariah Court of Appeal

Four lawyers walked out of the Syariah Court of Appeal this morning in protest of its unprecedented decision that three applicants need not obtain leave (permission) in seeking to strike out Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal over his qazaf (bearing false witness) application.

NONEKamar Ainiah Kamarulzaman (left), Dorina Abdullah, Dr Mohd Rafie Shafie and Mohamad Burok are representing Anwar in the proceedings linked to the Sodomy II case.

Kamar Ainiah had objected to the hearing of the application by Jamil Khir Baharom - who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Department - and two others, arguing that procedure had not been followed.

The Syariah Court of Appeal is the highest in the Federal Territory. As in the civil courts, leave has to be obtained before an application is heard, to ensure that it is not frivolous.
During the proceedings, Kamar Ainiah stated her objection three times, saying that the plaintiffs’ lawyers could not continue their submission to strike out Anwar’s appeal before the court grants them leave to do so.

“They (also) have to state their grounds as to why leave should be granted, as this is not stated in their application or in their affidavit. I am prepared to allow them more time to file a proper application.

“However, (the hearing) cannot be done this way without leave being granted, as it is against court procedure. It would lead to a precedent being set if the plaintiffs’ application is heard right away.”

The three-member bench was headed by Justice Zohdi Taha. The other judges were Justices Aidi Moktar and Hussin Harun.
Justice Zohdi then ruled that leave is not relevant in the strike-out application as this did not originate from the lower Syariah Court. He told the parties to continue with their submission.

NONEKamar Ainiah stood up again and said she and her team could not be associated with the court’s decision and would leave the courtroom.

They then packed their bags and left with PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her supporters.

While leaving the court room, Kamar Ainiah twice took a swipe at the plaintiffs’ lawyers, saying they could have the money from the zakat (tithes) fund.

However, Roslizam Rahim - representing the three plaintiffs with Abdul Rahim Bahri and Mohd Redzuan Ramli - asked the court to compel Kamar Ainiah to retract her statement.

She did so, and left the court room immediately.

Her remark was in reference to the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department having made available RM63,650 from the zakat fund as an advance to the trio, to pay the fees of lawyer Zainul Rijal Kamaruddin - then representing them - in their bid to dismiss Anwar’s qazaf application which named them as respondents.

‘Cite lawyers for contempt’

Roslizam then applied for Anwar's lawyers to be asked to show cause as to why they should not be cited for contempt, for being disrespectful to the court.

He had told the court earlier that he could not understand why objections are being raised now, when none had been expressed during case management.

Justice Zohdi fixed March 8 for the proceedings to continue, but did not make any decision as to when the court would hear the ‘show-cause’ application.

Roslizam later told reporters later that an application would be filed under Section 229 of the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1998.

If Anwar’s lawyers are found to be in contempt of court, they are liable to six months’ committal or a RM2,000 fine.

Met outside court, Kamar Ainiah and her team told reporters that they would file an application to the same court to review its own ruling.

NONE“Leave has to obtained. However, the court decided that leave is not relevant and (the application) can continue. As senior lawyers who respect the court, we decided that we could not participate further in today’s proceedings which (we see as) abuse of power by the plaintiffs,” she said.

Wan Azizah said there has been a procedural breach and that, from the layperson’s viewpoint, it would seem that the judge has given leeway to the applicants “rather than (take into account our) our arguments”.

“The word ‘irrelevant’ brings back memories of the (rulings of) High Court judge Justice Augustine Paul ...,” she said.

Mohamad, the former president of the Syarie Lawyers Association, said the court has no power to say that leave is not relevant.

“They have to determine whether leave can be granted or not, unless the plaintiffs withdraw the leave application.”

“They (the plaintiffs) think the court is on their side and that they can rest on their laurels. There was no submission on their part as to whether (leave) is relevant or not, but still yet the court made the decision. This is against procedure.”

NONEJamil Khir (right in photo) was in court along with the other plaintiffs - Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department director Che Mat Che Ali and enforcement officer Shamsuddin Haron.

The Syariah High Court had in April dismissed Anwar's qazaf application to compel the department to act against Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan for alleging that Anwar had sodomised him in 2008.

Anwar then filed an appeal. In May, lawyers for Jamil Khir and the other two had applied to strike out the appeal, resulting in today's hearing.

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