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Federal Court Throws Out Lawyer’s Appeal For RCI On Prison Reform

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PUTRAJAYA – The Federal Court has thrown out an appeal brought by lawyer P. Uthayakumar over his legal bid for the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to look into prison reform in Malaysia.

A five-man bench led by Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif struck out Uthayakumar’s appeal after agreeing to the preliminary objection raised by deputy public prosecutor Nadia Hanim Mohd Tajuddin.

Nadia Hanim, appearing for the government objected to Uthayakumar’s appeal on four grounds, namely that the appeal was incompetent; an abuse of court process; the subject matter was non-justiciable; and, academic.

Md Raus questioned Uthayakumar whether the court was empowered to direct the prime minister to form an RCI as it was encroaching the executive’s decision.

“Otherwise, there would be chaos if the court were given the power (to direct the prime minister),” he said.

Uthayakumar responded that the court could do so.

The other judges presiding were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi and Datuk Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

Nadia Hanim requested for RM100,000 in costs but the court decided not to make any order as to the costs.

In his application filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s criminal registry in October 2015, Uthayakumar had sought for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, with the attorney-general’s advice, to propose to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to establish the commission.

He named Najib, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Prisons director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar, Kajang Prison director Abdul Wahab Abdul Kassim, attorney-general and the Malaysian Government as respondents in his application.

In February last year, the High Court dismissed Uthayakumar’s application, ruling that the criminal high court did not have the jurisdiction to hear Uthayakumar’s application.

He was unsuccessful in his appeal at the Court of Appeal, which was also dismissed last August, on grounds that his appeal was incompetent as his application was not properly brought before the High Court.

In the application, Uthayakumar said among others, that inmates at prisons nationwide should be given healthcare and medical treatment by specialists.

In 2013, he was sentenced to 30 months’ jail for sedition by a sessions court in Kuala Lumpur.

He was, however, released from prison in October, the following year after the Court of Appeal reduced his jail term to 24 months.

Also representing the government was deputy public prosecutor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud. – BERNAMA