PUTRAJAYA (Dec 1): Former Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) director Datuk Dr N Sundra Rajoo on Thursday (Dec 1) failed in his ex-parte move to gain leave (permission) from the Federal Court to cite former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas for contempt.
This follows Sundra Rajoo's complaint about two paragraphs in Tommy’s affidavit in reply, which was reported by an online news portal (Malaysiakini) before the document was officially filed in court and claimed that the former AIAC director’s immunity put him above the nine Malay rulers.
Sundra Rajoo’s lawyers led by Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, Surendra Ananth and TJ Lee complained that the words represent or upset the administration of justice, and went against the apex court's decision last year, which ruled that their client had immunity from the criminal proceedings against him.
As a result of the decision on April 30 last year, Sundra Rajoo filed a civil suit where, among others, he named Tommy, along with several officers of the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, as among the 12 defendants in the suit.
It was in this civil suit that Tommy made the averments in his affidavit.
While Malik informed the court that the High Court had agreed to strike out the two offending paragraphs in the former AG’s statement, and that Tommy is appealing against it in the Court of Appeal, Malik said the publication of the impugned statement before the document being filed in court warranted action.
He added that the article came out at 6.57pm on the news portal on Nov 5, 2021, while the official filing time was at 7.43pm that day.
The counsel further said that if Tommy was not satisfied with the apex court decision earlier, he should have filed a review of the decision before the Federal Court, but chose not to do so, before making the averments.
“Furthermore, we had written to present AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun complaining about the two paragraphs last July, asking whether the AGC would initiate contempt proceedings against Tommy and seeking a reply within 14 days from the [issuance of the] letter on July 29, 2022.
“Despite there being no response, my client decided to file the ex-parte [application] to cite Tommy for contempt, and we felt that through this submission, we had shown a prima facie case against the former AG,” the counsel said.
However, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, who led a three-member bench, disagreed.
“Having heard the submissions and reading the cause paper to initiate contempt proceedings, we are of the considered view that this application does not fulfil the threshold for a prima facie case over the impugned statement on public confidence in the administration of justice,” the judge said.
“Hence, this enclosure [to gain leave to cite Tommy] for contempt is dismissed,” Abang Iskandar added.
He sat with Federal Court judges Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal in delivering the unanimous decision.