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Lawyer fails in bid for leave to challenge Anwar's pardon

A three-man Federal Court bench led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat says the matter is now academic.

2 minute read
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. Photo: Bernama
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. Photo: Bernama

A lawyer today failed to obtain leave from the Federal Court to challenge the legality of the royal pardon granted to Anwar Ibrahim in 2018.

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who led a three-member bench in a unanimous decision, dismissed Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz's applications for leave to appeal after finding that the matter was now academic.

"The court below made a finding of fact that the Pardons Board was properly constituted. We concur that the questions proposed by the applicant did not meet the threshold requirement under Section 96 (a) and (b) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

"The issue of non-justiciability is settled and this case does not warrant departure from the precedence," the top judge said when delivering today's decision via online proceedings.

The other judges on the panel were Federal Court judges Nallini Pathmanathan and Vernon Ong Lam Kiat.

On the advice of the Pardons Board to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tengku Maimun said the apex court found that there was no basis to suggest any misrepresentation in the advice offered. 

The top judge said on the issue of conviction, the court found that the pardon document made no reference to the fact that the conviction was set aside. 

"There is no question of the court's power being usurped. Finally, we find that the matter has been rendered academic. Both applications are therefore dismissed with no order as to costs," she said.

Tengku Maimun made the ruling after hearing submissions from Khairul's lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, J Leela, who represented the prime minister, and senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, who acted for Pardons Board.

On Sept 21, 2021, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeals brought by Anwar and the Pardons Board of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur to strike out the lawsuit filed against them by Khairul.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench comprising justices Has Zanah Mehat, Indera Mohd Sofian Abd Razak and Lee Heng Cheong held that Khairul did not have the right to question the clemency and the advice given to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the granting of the pardon to Anwar. 

On Sept 21, 2020, Anwar and the Pardons Board lost their bid in the High Court to strike out the lawsuit. 

Khairul filed the originating summons on Feb 26, 2020, naming the Pardons Board and Anwar as respondents, claiming that several unconstitutional actions had been taken to ensure that Anwar received a pardon that released him from prison following the 14th general election.

He claimed that the pardon granted to Anwar by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong contravened Articles 42 (4) and (5) of the Federal Constitution in view of the fact that pardons granted by the Agong should be based on the advice of the Pardons Board which Khairul argued had not yet been formally formed following the general election on May 9, 2018 and the formation of the new government.

Anwar was sentenced to five years’ jail for sodomising his aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. The conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015.