PUTRAJAYA, 17 Feb 2009: The Federal Court here today dismissed the application by Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin to recuse Justice Datuk Augustine Paul from hearing his habeas corpus appeal.
Justices Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin in their decision said they were satisfied that the application to recuse Paul was made without any merit.
Earlier, before hearing the application, Paul told the court that he wanted to disqualify himself from the proceedings.
After he left the bench, counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, for Raja Petra, informed the court that the application for recusal could not be heard by the two remaining judges on the ground that section 74 of the Courts of Judicature Act requires the sitting of three Federal Court judges.
However, Nik Hashim said they were empowered to hear the application under section 78 of the same act.
Malik, who continued with his submission, argued that there was a real danger of bias on the part of Paul if he sat on the panel to hear the appeal.
He said Raja Petra had commented in some articles in the internet about Paul as the High Court judge in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s corruption trial in 1998 and Paul, as the High Court judge, had dismissed Raja Petra’a habeas corpus application in 2001, but the Federal Court later released him.
“My client has consistently questioned Justice Paul’s integrity. And now the judge is sitting on his case … Judges are human, they are not immune from being biased,” said Malik.
The court, after dismissing the recusal application, invited Paul to join the panel to hear three other applications by Raja Petra.
Raja Petra had applied for a panel of five or seven judges to hear the appeal on the ground that the case involved complex constitutional issues. The application was dismissed.
His applications to adduce in the appeal his supplementary affidavit as well as the notes of proceedings of his on-going sedition trial, to which deputy public prosecutor Tun Majid Tun objected, were also dismissed.
Malik Imtiaz also informed the court that Raja Petra wanted to withdraw the cross-appeal.
Later, the court fixed 23 Feb to hear submission from counsel for the Home Minister who is appealing against the Shah Alam High Court’s decision on 7 Nov last year in allowing Raja Petra’s application for release. — Bernama