Court dismisses Najib, Muhammad Shafee's bid to recuse Sri Ram as DPP in their cases

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 28): The High Court here today dismissed the judicial review application by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, to recuse Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram (pictured) as the senior deputy public prosecutor (DPP) in their respective cases.

Judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya made the decision after finding there was no evidence to prove that the then Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas had misdirected himself under the law in the appointment of Sri Ram as senior DPP.

“It is clear that the AG had made a careful consideration before appointing Sri Ram as a senior DPP to spearhead the prosecution relating to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal based on Sri Ram’s vast experience in the legal field.

“Thus, the court is of the opinion that the AG or Public Prosecutor (PP) has made up his mind that Gopal Sri Ram is a fit and proper person to be appointed as senior DPP to lead the prosecution team relating to 1MDB scandal at that material time,” she said.

Justice Mariana said the court also agreed with the respondents (the AG/Public Prosecutor, the government and Sri Ram) that the government, like any private entity, can choose or authorise any advocate to appear on their behalf in any court of law.

The judge also held that the appointment of Sri Ram as senior DPP pursuant to Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) by the AG or PP was legal and valid.

Under this section, she said a senior DPP must not necessarily come from the judicial and legal service and the section did not impose the said senior DPP to be on a full-time basis.

Under the same section, she said the government was not required to gazette Sri Ram's appointment as senior DPP.

She said the AG or PP had not acted outside his constitutional or statutory powers and therefore was not a nullity, void and of no defect.

“Accordingly, the court dismissed the applicant's application in both cases with RM10,000 costs each,” she said.

Immediately after the ruling, Muhammad Shafee informed the judge that he was instructed by his client to file an appeal against today’s decision.

In December 2018, the former prime minister filed for the judicial review to disqualify the former Federal Court Judge as the senior DPP in his 1MDB-linked cases.

Besides acting as Najib’s counsel, Muhammad Shafee also filed for the judicial review as he too was seeking to recuse Sri Ram from his RM9.5 million money laundering trial, which has yet to commence.

They named the AG / Public Prosecutor, the government and Sri Ram as the respondents.

They were seeking a court order to revoke Sri Ram’s appointment or recuse him, saying that his letter of appointment was invalid.

They also sought a declaration that there was a conflict of interest in Sri Ram's appointment and requested for an order to prohibit him from leading the prosecution team in all of their cases, including on corruption, abuse of power and money laundering.

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