Najib loses bid to review Federal Court decision

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court here has dismissed Datuk Seri Najib Razak's application for leave to review his SRC International case.

In a majority 4-1 decision, read by Justice Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, the panel found no bias or breach of natural justice had occurred in the hearing of Najib's final appeal before a different panel in August, last year.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli, who was the chair of the five-judge panel, gave the dissenting judgment.

ALSO READ: Najib complicit with lawyers in trying to get SRC appeal adjourned, says prosecutor

The present panel was of the view that Najib's review application "did no more than challenge the merits of the Federal Court's decisions".

Last August, a panel of five judges chaired by the Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat presided over Najib's final appeal.

They affirmed and upheld his conviction and sentence by the High Court, which sent Najib to a 12-year imprisonment at the Kajang Prison and a fine of RM210mil.

Najib then filed for leave to review his conviction and sentence, claiming there was a miscarriage of justice.

Justice Ong said Najib's response to the dismissal of his applications and appeals before the previous panel had been "wholly disproportionate".

He noted that Najib had deposed in his supporting affidavit that he was deprived of his fundamental liberties under the Federal Constitution to a fair appeal.

ALSO READ: Najib petitions UN over his ‘unjust’ imprisonment

"In our considered view, the applicant is not in a position to be objective as he cannot accept that this court will decide the applications and the appeals against him unless there was bias, breach of natural justice and of abuse of process.

"The facts that his feelings may be genuine, it cannot be allowed to dictate our conclusion.

"In the final analysis, in having regard to all the circumstances in this matter, with respect, we are constrained to say that the applicant (Najib) was the author of his own misfortune," said Justice Ong.

The panel said that the impugned decisions, by the previous panel, were matters of opinion, both in law and in facts.

He also said the present panel saw no objection in law to the course to which the earlier panel of judges took given the unusual circumstances of the case.

"Even if you are inclined to take a different view, we do not say that we do or do not agree with the said decisions - that is not the ground to review the impugned decisions," he said.

ALSO READ: Federal Court begins hearing Najib's bid to quash SRC case conviction

On Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995, which Najib invoked in his application for leave to review his case, the panel said the law provision gave the apex court inherent jurisdiction to review its own decision but only for cases that fall within limited grounds and exceptional circumstances.

"Absence of such limited grounds and very exceptional circumstances, an invocation of this rule by dissatisfied party may be an abuse of the process of the court.

"We stress that Rule 137 should never be used to abuse the process of the court.

"For the said reasons, we are of the view that a review application did no more than challenge the merits of the Federal Court's decisions.

"Accordingly, the review application should be, and hereby, dismissed," Justice Ong said.

Other judges on the bench were Federal Court judges Justices Rhodzariah Bujang, Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Justice Abu Bakar Jais.

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