Najib Razak and his son Mohd Nazifuddin can appeal to the Federal Court over a summary judgment entered against them regarding the payment of income tax amounting to RM1.69 billion and RM37.6 million respectively to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN).
This follows a unanimous decision today by a three-member bench led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, granting leave to Najib and Nazifuddin as the applicants to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision.
“It is our unanimous decision that the requirements of Section 96 (a) and (b) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (CJA) have been met in terms of Enclosure 1 (motion for leave to appeal),” said Tengku Maimun who presided with Federal Court judges Nallini Pathmanathan and Mary Lim Thiam Suan.
Section 96 (a) and (b) of the CJA states that leave will only be given by the Federal Court or Court of Appeal in any civil cause or matter involving a question of general principle decided for the first time or a question of importance upon which further argument and a decision of the Federal Court would be to public advantage or from any decision as to the effect of any provision of the constitution including the validity of any written law relating to any such provision.
The former prime minister and his son had sought leave to file an appeal against the summary judgment obtained by LHDN to recover more than RM1.7 billion in tax arrears from them.
Two separate High Courts had allowed LHDN’s applications to enter a summary judgment to recover tax arrears of RM1.69 billion from Najib and RM37.6 million from Nazifuddin, for the period of between 2011 and 2017.
A summary judgment is obtained when the court decides on a case through written submissions without a full trial and calling witnesses.
Najib and Nazifuddin lost their appeal in the Court of Appeal on Sept 9, 2021 to set aside the summary judgment.
The appellate court, however, granted the applications by both to temporarily halt the summary judgment order pending the hearing of their leave to appeal application before the Federal Court.
In civil cases, litigants must obtain leave before they can proceed with their appeals in the Federal Court.
Earlier, counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, representing Najib and Nazifuddin, submitted that LHDN’s conduct amounted to bad faith and that it had sought to bankrupt his clients even before the Special Commissioners of Income Tax could hear the merits of their defence to the additional tax assessments raised against them.
LHDN was represented by its deputy solicitor Hazlina Hussain while counsel Anand Raj from the Malaysia Bar acted as amicus curiae or a friend of the court.
When contacted, Wee Yeong Kang, another lawyer representing Najib and Nazifuddin, said they would file a notice of appeal as soon as possible.