June 27 decision on Malaysian Bar's application for leave to challenge Zahid's DNAA

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here set June 27 to decide on a leave application filed by the Malaysian Bar to challenge the Attorney General's decision to halt proceedings against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in his Yayasan Akalbudi corruption case.

Judge Amarjeet Singh also fixed, on Thursday (April 18), the same date to decide on the Bar's application to refer three constitutional questions over the same matter to the Federal Court for determination.

The Malaysian Bar, in an application filed on Dec 2 last year, named the the Attorney General (AG) and Ahmad Zahid as respondents.

It sought relief from the court for an order of certiorari to remove and quash the AG's decision on Sept 4, last year to apply for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) in Ahmad Zahid's case, and a declaration that the Sept 4 decision was null and void and made in excess of the jurisdiction granted to the AG.

On Sept 4, the High Court granted Ahmad Zahid a DNAA for 47 charges related to criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds, after the prosecution informed that the Attorney General's Chambers wanted to halt the proceedings against Ahmad Zahid to scrutinise new evidence.

Earlier, lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, representing the Malaysian Bar, submitted that the Bar has locus standi to file a judicial review application.

"This is not a matter of the Malaysian Bar being a 'busybody' or meddling in the mere private affairs of an individual.

"It pertains to charges brought against an individual who previously held public office (as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, up to 2018) and against whom charges were dropped upon their reappointment to public office (as Deputy Prime Minister, in 2022)," she said.

Ambiga also submitted that the decision to apply for a DNAA for the second respondent (Ahmad Zahid) was illegal and contrary to the decision of the High Court.

According to the counsel, on Jan 24, 2022, the High Court held that a prima facie case against Ahmad Zahid had been established and ordered him to enter his defence to the 47 charges against him.

Meanwhile, Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, representing the AG, countered that the Bar had failed to prove that the AG's decision was indeed tainted with illegality, nor did they back up their contentions with compelling evidence.

According to Shamsul, the AG was acting well within his prosecutorial discretion under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution which states that he can institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence.

Ahmad Zahid's counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik argued that the Bar's application is already academic in light of the decision of the Criminal High Court to allow the order for a DNAA.

"The applicant (Bar) has no locus standi to file this application. In short, the applicant is a mere busybody and not adversely affected by the decision to apply for a DNAA.

"The applicant has also clearly failed to prove, among others, its locus standi in filing the application. Therefore, the leave application should be dismissed by this court,” he said. - Bernama

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