Court of Appeal strikes out challenge against Anwar's royal pardon

© Provided by The Edge

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 21): The Court of Appeal today ruled to strike out the lawsuit filed by a lawyer to challenge the legality of the royal pardon Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim received in 2018, overturning a previous decision by the High Court.

Justice Datuk Has Zanah Mehat, who led a three-member panel, ruled that the decision made pursuant to an exercise of royal prerogative of mercy cannot be varied or confirmed by the court and, as such, is not justiciable.

“There is no jurisdiction to do so, hence we are of the view that any proceedings in court in questioning the propriety or otherwise on such a decision is not justiciable.

“The power of pardon is expressly preserved under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution. This power is not limited to just sentences but also conviction,” she said, as she presided over the appeal with Justices Datuk Indera Mohd Sofian Abd Razak and Datuk Lee Heng Cheong in the proceedings conducted via Zoom earlier this morning.

Besides that, the panel judges also ruled that the respondent, lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, has no standing or right to question the clemency and the advice given to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the granting of the pardon to Anwar.

“We are unanimous in our decision that there are merits in both the appeals, and we allowed both the appeals. The decision of the High Court dated Sept 21, 2020 is thereby set aside, and the respondent’s claims against both the appellants are hereby struck out,” Justice Has Zanah added.

The appellate judge was referring to the judgement by Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir in September 2020 which had dismissed Anwar’s and the Pardons Board’s bid to strike out Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz’s suit and ruled the lawyer had locus standi (legal standing) to file the challenge.

Following that, Anwar and the Pardons Board, which were the named defendants in the suit, had appealed against the High Court’s decision.

Anwar, who was represented by Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram today, and the Federal Territories Pardons Board, which was represented by senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, had in May last year filed the striking out application on grounds that Khairul Azam has no locus standi to file the action and that it was frivolous, an embarrassment and an abuse of the court process.

On Feb 26, 2020, Khairul Azam sued the Pardons Board and Anwar over the latter’s royal pardon relating to his sodomy conviction involving Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

In his statement of claim, Khairul Azam said the Federal Court had on Feb 10, 2015 affirmed a conviction against Anwar pertaining to the sodomy charge.

The apex court had maintained the five-year imprisonment sentence meted out by the Court of Appeal against Anwar, who later went to jail to serve his sentence.

However, after the 14th General Election in May 2018 and the new Pakatan Harapan government was formed, the plaintiff claimed that several illegal and unconstitutional moves were taken to ensure Anwar was pardoned and released from his sentence.

He sought a declaration that the pardon bestowed on Anwar was illegal and invalid.

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