PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has dismissed the application by Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin to recuse Justice Datuk S. Augustine Paul from hearing his habeas corpus appeal.
Justices Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin said they were satisfied that the application was made without any merit.
Earlier, before hearing the application, Justice Paul told the court that he wanted to disqualify himself from the proceedings.
After he left the bench, counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, for Raja Petra, informed the court that the application for recusal could not be heard by the two remaining judges on the grounds that Section 74 of the Courts of Judicature Act requires the sitting of three Federal Court judges.
Justice Nik Hashim said they were empowered to hear the application under Section 78 of the same act.
Malik, who continued with his submission, argued that there was a real danger of bias on the part of Justice Paul if he sat on the panel to hear the appeal.
He said Raja Petra had commented in some articles in the Internet about Justice Paul as the High Court judge in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s corruption trial in 1998.
He said as High Court judge, Justice Paul had dismissed Raja Petra’s habeas corpus application in 2001 but the Federal Court later released him.
The court, after dismissing the recusal application, invited Justice Paul to join the panel to hear three other applications by Raja Petra.
Raja Petra had applied for a panel of five or seven judges to hear the appeal on the ground that the case involved complex constitutional issues. The application was dismissed.
His applications to adduce in the appeal his supplementary affidavit as well as the notes of proceedings of his ongoing sedition trial, to which Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Majid objected, were also dismissed.
Malik Imtiaz also informed the court that Raja Petra wanted to withdraw the cross-appeal.
Later, the court fixed Feb 23 to hear submissions from counsel for the Home Minister, who is appealing against the Shah Alam High Court’s decision on Nov 7 last year in allowing Raja Petra’s application for release. — Bernama