Apex court dismisses Arun Kasi’s bid to stop contempt proceedings

Lawyer Arun Kasi has failed in his bid to set aside the leave granted by the Federal Court to Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas (pic) to cite him for contempt of court. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Lawyer Arun Kasi has failed in his bid to set aside the leave granted by the Federal Court to Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas (pic) to cite him for contempt of court. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUTRAJAYA, March 13 — Lawyer Arun Kasi has failed in his bid to set aside the leave granted by the Federal Court to Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas to cite him for contempt of court.

The Federal Court today ruled that contempt proceedings will now continue against Arun for allegedly scandalising Federal Court judges.

Federal Court judge Tan Sri Ramly Ali said he was not persuaded by Arun’s lawyer that the AG acted ultra vires Article 145 and lacked locus standi to institute the ex-parte application having regard to the wealth of authority available locally and in the Commonwealth.

“In a case of contempt, as is the case here, the AG brings this motion to protect the public confidence in the administration of justice which confidence is undermined by statements scandalising the court.

“Having considered the submission of the learned counsel for Arun as well as that of the honourable AG, we are of the unanimous view that the application is dismissed,” he said after hearing submissions from both sides.

Ramly, who chaired a five-member panel, presided over the hearing with Federal Court judges Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, Datuk Rohana Yusuf, Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

Arun, whose real name is Arunachalam Kasi, caused controversy with two articles published in the Aliran online portal, where he referred to allegations of judicial misconduct and the removal of certain parts of the dissenting judgement from Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer.

On February 27, Thomas won approval from a three-member panel at the Federal Court to initiate contempt proceedings against Arun.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented Arun, had earlier argued that the AG has no power to cite his client for contempt as the AG could only do so based on written law as provided under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution.

Thomas then responded by saying his power extended beyond the Constitution as he was the guardian of public interest and the fountain of justice as described in case laws all over the world including Malaysia.

“That is not written law. It is very misleading to say the AG power is limited to Article 145.

“For example, the Government Proceedings Act Section 9 appoints the AG as the guardian of charitable trust,” Thomas added.

Ramly then concluded that Article 145 should be given construction that takes into account the functions of the AG which formed an inherent part of his office.

In regards to whether contempt proceedings should instead be brought to the High Court and not the Federal Court, Ramly said the panel was not persuaded by the argument put forth by Arun’s lawyer.

“Proceedings can begin in the Federal Court in light of the express provision of Article 126, section 13 of the Courts of Judicature Act as well as Order 52 of the Rules of the Court, all of which are self-explanatory,” he said.

Mohamed Haniff then said they will apply to cross-examine Thomas.

The Federal Court then fixed March 28 to hear the merits of the case. 

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