Firefighter Adib’s case: Appeals court to decide if coroner has power to start committal proceedings on Feb 8

Today, the court heard the appeal brought by the Attorney General’s Chambers on whether the Coroner’s Court has the jurisdiction to hear and decide on committal proceedings. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Today, the court heard the appeal brought by the Attorney General’s Chambers on whether the Coroner’s Court has the jurisdiction to hear and decide on committal proceedings. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — The Court of Appeal has set February 8 to decide whether the coroner who heard the inquest into fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death has the jurisdiction to issue leave to commence committal proceedings against former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas.

The date was fixed by a three-member panel comprising Judges Datuk Suraya Othman, Datuk Abu Bakar Jais and Datuk Hashim Hamzah in a virtual proceeding today.

“We need more time as we have to do more research on this matter. Hence, we fixed February 8 for decision,” said Justice Suraya.

Earlier, counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla who acted for Muhammad Adib’s father, Mohd Kassim Abdul Hamid said Section 99A of the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 stated that the coroner or any subordinate court has the further power and jurisdiction to issue contempt without derogating from their original power conferred upon them.

“We humbly submit that the Subordinate Court has the power and jurisdiction to issue contempt because the further powers and jurisdiction are not limited to only contempt in the face of the court but also extends to contempt, not in the face of the court.

“In fact, the Supreme Court in 1985 had already acknowledged that the inquest has the power to cite any contempt that has not been overruled by any of our superior courts thus far. It is still the law and therefore it is jurisdictive,” said the lawyer.

Meanwhile, Datuk S. Ambiga representing Thomas said the Coroner’s Court had erred in allowing the bid for committal through an application.

“Our case today was not contempt in the face of the court. The coroner took it upon herself and decided to grant leave for contempt proceedings. Such a method in moving a court to initiate contempt proceedings is reserved for the higher courts,” she said.

During previous proceedings, Ambiga said the coroner did not have the jurisdiction to issue leave to commence committal proceedings against Thomas as Article 126 of the Federal Constitution and Section 13 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 provided the power to the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

Today, the court heard the appeal brought by the Attorney General’s Chambers on whether the Coroner’s Court has the jurisdiction to hear and decide on committal proceedings.

The other two appeals were brought by Mohd Kassim which included the appeal against a High Court’s decision in setting aside the coroner’s decision to give him leave to initiate committal proceedings against Thomas.

In his application, Mohd Kassim, 68, claimed that Thomas had insulted the court through an affidavit filed by the AGC on April 3, 2019, regarding the cause of his son’s death.

Muhammad Adib, 24, who was a member of the emergency medical rescue services (EMRS) at the Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue station, was seriously injured in a riot at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, USJ 25, on November 27, 2018.

He died on December 17 2018 after 21 days at the National Heart Institute (IJN).

On September 27, 2019, the Coroner’s Court ruled that Muhammad Adib’s death was a result of a criminal act by more than two people.

An inquest into Muhammad Adib’s death by Coroner Rofiah Mohamad commenced on February 11, 2019, after two conflicting versions of the cause of his death emerged. — Bernama

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