PETALING JAYA: In an unprecedented move, the Malaysian Bar has filed for leave for a judicial review to quash the Attorney General’s (AG) decision to seek a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s 47 graft charges.
In September, the AG had applied for the DNAA for the Deputy Prime Minister who had been charged with corruption and abuse of power over the use of Yayasan Akalbudi funds.
The High Court granted the DNAA on Sept 4.
Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn said it had taken this legal recourse as part of its statutory duty to uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour.
She added that it cannot be disputed that a prima facie case was established at Ahmad Zahid’s trial which commenced more than four years ago on Nov 18, 2019.
“(A total of) 77 days of trial had been conducted, Ahmad Zahid’s 15th witness had given evidence, and the matter was in the midst of its defence stage on Sept 4,” she said.
Cheah said the judicial review will seek, among others, a certiorari or writ to quash the AG’s decision of Sept 4 in applying for a DNAA in Ahmad Zahid’s case.
“It is the Malaysian Bar’s concerted view that the AG’s discretionary powers under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution is not absolute and should be restricted in its scope and limit,” she said in a statement yesterday.
The AG’s powers should also be exercised in a “justiciable” manner as determined by the courts under its revisionary powers and inherent jurisdiction in accordance with the law, she added.
The judicial review is also seeking a declaration that the AG’s decision on Sept 4 is null and void, and/or made in excess of the powers granted under Article 145(3) of the Constitution and Section 254(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In its application, the Bar is seeking a mandamus order directing the AG to furnish it with all information, documentation, reasons, basis, and particulars that it relied on to base its application for Ahmad Zahid’s DNAA.
“It can’t be emphasised enough that a judicial review process is important to challenge decisions, actions, or omissions of public bodies.
“This is in the event that checks and balances on the Executive and Legislative are required, or where the basic structure of our Federal Constitution is called into question for proper interpretation – in the interest of our democracy,” said Cheah.
She added that Ahmad Zahid’s case holds national and public interest as it involves grave accusations of criminal breach of trust, bribery, and money laundering against an individual in power and authority at the time he was charged.