PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali has declined to drop contempt charges against three individuals for claiming that a Federal Court bench had plagiarised its judgment in a commercial case.
Their lawyer David Gurupatham said the AG refused to accede to the request of his clients on compassionate grounds following a letter of representation sent to him recently.
“The AG, who is also public prosecutor, does not want to interfere and instead wants the Federal Court to decide on the matter,” he told FMT.
The next hearing has been fixed for Aug 29, where he will inform the judges about the outcome of the letter of representation to the AG.
The trio are the last of the original group of 24 people charged with contempt. The lawyer for the 24 at that time, V K Lingam, who was implicated in judicial fixing by a Royal Commission of Inquiry in 2007, was also similarly charged.
However, while the rest pleaded guilty, these three and Lingam have yet to plead guilty or not guilty as they were not in court.
The contempt proceedings came about after 24 shareholders of a family-owned company filed a review against the decision of the Federal Court in favour of two liquidators in 2012.
The two then filed contempt action for scandalising the court by filing the review. Midway, however, the liquidators withdrew their action but the government took over and proceeded with the case.
On Nov 21 last year, the three did not turn up at the Federal Court when 21 others, including a lawyer were fined a total of RM2.15 million.
Lawyer T C Nayagam was slapped with a RM150,000 fine while the rest were fined RM100,000 each. All paid the fines.
All decided to plead guilty to contempt of court for claiming that a Federal Court bench had plagiarised its written grounds.
However, since contempt is a quasi-criminal charge, the five-man Federal Court bench, led by Suryadi Halim Omar, deferred sentence until the trio were in court.
The contempt proceedings have been adjourned numerous times since 2012, especially due to the absence of Lingam, who is said to be receiving medical treatment overseas.
Attempts by FMT to get a clarification from Lingam’s lawyer R Thayalan through WhatsApp on whether his client would be present in the Federal Court, did not get any response.
On Aug 23, 2013, Lingam and the rest failed to set aside their contempt charge as the court ruled there was a prima facie case against them.
Trial was then set for Dec 8, 2013, but Lingam did not turn up as he was seeking medical treatment for a full hip replacement.
Following his continued absence, the court fixed Nov 21, 2016 as the final chance for Lingam to appear before them. But Lingam again did not turn up.
The government took over the contempt proceedings by the liquidators against Lingam, former Kian Joo Can Factory Bhd (KJCF) group managing director See Teow Chuan and 23 others who were the majority and minority contributories of Kian Joo Holdings Sdn Bhd (KJH). Initially all 24 were represented by Lingam.
KJH liquidators Ooi Woon Chee and Ng Kim Tuck were the original applicants, but withdrew the contempt charges against Lingam and the rest.
The legal dispute that led to the contempt proceedings began in 2009 when one the respondents went to the High Court after a rival company, Can-One International Sdn Bhd, won the tender to purchase a 32.9% stake in KJFC.
The respondents failed in the High Court to stop Can-One from acquiring the shares. However, the Court of Appeal reversed the decision.
The case was then taken to the Federal Court where a three-member panel of judges ruled in favour of the liquidators in 2012.
The respondents then filed a review, citing plagiarism in the court’s written judgment. However it was dismissed by the Federal Court.
The then chief justice Arifin Zakaria said the three-man bench did not just blindly adopt the submissions of the liquidators’ counsel, but only used 70 of the 189 paragraphs.