PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court here fixed Feb 17 to hear an application by Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin to recuse one of the judges from hearing his habeas corpus appeal.
Justice Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman, who sat with Justices Datuk S. Augustine Paul and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, ordered Raja Petra’s counsel, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, to file a formal application on the matter Thursday morning.
Justice Nik Hashim, in allowing Malik Imtiaz to file a proper application on the recusal of Paul, said the court would proceed to hear the appeal proper on that day.
At the outset, Malik Imtiaz informed the court that he was instructed by Raja Petra to apply to recuse Paul from hearing the appeal Wednesday morning and he needed time to prepare the evidence to support the application.
He said there were two grounds for the application -- that Raja Petra had commented in some articles on the Internet about Paul as the High Court judge in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s corruption trial in 1998 and that Paul, as the High Court Judge, had dismissed Raja Petra’s habeas corpus application in 2001, but the Federal Court later released him.
Malik Imtiaz said that based on these two grounds, there might be bias against Raja Petra if Paul remained on the panel.
However, deputy public prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah strongly objected to the application, saying that the issue of bias did not arise at this stage, therefore Paul should not recuse himself from hearing the appeal.
On Wednesday, the court was scheduled to hear submissions from the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, as the appellant in the appeal against the Shah Alam High Court’s decision in releasing Raja Petra from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) after allowing his application for a writ of habeas corpus.
The court was also scheduled to hear submissions from Raja Petra, who cross-appealed against the Shah Alam High Court on some points in the habeas corpus application which were raised at the High Court but were not decided on.
On Nov 7 last year Justice Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad released Raja Petra from ISA detention and held that the grounds for his detention by Syed Hamid under Section 8 of the ISA did not come within the scope of that section.
He then ordered that Raja Petra, 58, who has been held at the Kamunting detention camp in Taiping, Perak, since Sept 12, 2008, be brought before the court for his release.
Raja Petra had applied for the writ of habeas corpus seeking his release on the grounds that his detention under the ISA was unlawful and unconstitutional. He named Syed Hamid as respondent. -- Bernama