PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The High Court judge erred when he transferred Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's criminal charges involving SRC International Sdn Bhd's funds back to his court on his own initiative, the Court of Appeal heard Friday (March 15).
Najib's lawyer Harvinderjit Singh said by doing so, the judge had usurped the power which was exclusively given to the Chief Judge of Malaya to distribute cases amongst judges of the High Court of Malaya.
He said it was a back-door application by the public prosecutor to suggest to the High Court judge to act 'suo motu' (on its own motion) under Section 417 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to transfer Najib's case back to his court.
The proper procedure to be adopted to regularise the proceedings was to give Najib a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on the seven charges and re-charge him at the Sessions Court, he said.
"It has to go through the (court) registry. Distribution of cases is within the power of the Chief Judge of Malaya. The registry acts on directions and ruling made by the Chief Judge of Malaya," he submitted in Najib's appeal.
At the appeal hearing, Harvinderjit Singh also argued that there was no provision under the CPC empowering Attorney General Tommy Thomas to transfer a case from the High Court to the Sessions Court.
On Feb 7 this year, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allowed Thomas' application to withdraw his certificate to transfer Najib's seven charges from the Sessions Court to the High Court.
The judge then used his discretion under Section 417 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code and brought the charges from the Sessions Court for him to hear the cases.
Muhammad Shafee earlier submitted it was never on the High Court judge's initiative to transfer the case back to him but it was a case of "nudging the judge".
He said after withdrawing his certificate of transfer, the public prosecutor had, in fact, moved the High Court judge to exercise his powers under Section 417 (2) to transfer the case back to him (the judge).
Muhammad Shafee then requested the court to allow his client's appeal to overturn the High Court's decision and an order for the matter to be sent back for rehearing before a different High Court judge.
The bench comprising Zabariah, Rhodzariah Bujang and Lau Bee Lan fixed Monday to resume the hearing.
The 66-year-old Pekan MP is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust and one charge of abusing his position over SRC International funds amounting to RM42mil. He was also charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same amount of money.
Responding to media questions on why he was able to attend a separate case in Shah Alam on Tuesday morning before asking the Court of Appeal later in the day for a postponement, Muhammad
Shafee said it was because the pain on his left wrist had become unbearable.
Shafee requested for an adjournment of the hearing in Najib's appeal on Tuesday saying that he needed medical attention for his injured wrist due to a fall when his dog jumped on him.
He told reporters that the condition of his wrist was "much better" today. - Bernama