PUTRAJAYA: The late Karpal Singh (pic) has been acquitted posthumously by the Federal Court of a sedition charge over his comment about the Perak Sultan a decade ago.
Chief Judge of Malaya Zaharah Ibrahim, who chaired a seven-man panel, said there had been a serious misdirection by the High Court and Court of Appeal.
She said Karpal had given his defence under oath, and the law required it to be considered by the trial judge.
Another Court of Appeal, in its majority ruling in 2016, also failed to consider Karpal’s defence, she said.
Zaharah noted that three out of four judges in the case had failed to analyse the defence.
“In the circumstances of this case, we are of the view that the failure was a serious misdirection and occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice which is not curable under proviso to Subsection 92(1) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964,” she said in the unanimous ruling here yesterday.
Zaharah then allowed both appeals against Karpal’s conviction and sentence.
The other members of the bench were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong, and Federal Court judges Justices Ramly Ali, Alizatul Khir Osman Khairuddin, Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Idrus Harun and P. Nallini.
In 2010, Karpal was charged with questioning the late Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah’s action in removing Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the mentri besar of Perak during the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis.
Karpal allegedly uttered the seditious words against the Sultan of Perak at his legal firm in Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur, between noon and 12.30pm on Feb 6, 2009.
The High Court had initially discharged and acquitted Karpal without ordering him to enter his defence in 2010 but on appeal by the prosecution, the Court of Appeal in 2012 ordered him to enter his defence.
In 2014, the High Court convicted and fined him RM4,000.
In 2016, the Court of Appeal, by a 2-1 majority decision, upheld his conviction but reduced the fine to RM1,800.
Following the Court of Appeal’s decision to reduce the fine, Gurmit Kaur, who is the administrator of her husband’s estate, could get his pension and other benefits accorded to an elected representative.