By Ho Kit Yen | Free Malaysia Today

Three lawyers had filed a lawsuit against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to question the probe against Justice Nazlan Ghazali.

The Federal Court has held that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation against Justice Nazlan Ghazali was done without following protocol.

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said this today in delivering the ruling on a suit brought by three lawyers to challenge the investigation by MACC into claims of an unexplained sum of more than RM1 million in Nazlan’s bank account.

“Investigative bodies like MACC must consult the Chief Justice before (initiating) the probe. Their failure to inform shows that there was a lack of bona fide on their part.

“The announcement (made by MACC through the media) is enough to damage the judicial institution.

“Investigative bodies cannot publicise an investigation against a superior court judge of their own accord without the Chief Justice’s approval,” Tengku Maimun said following the unanimous decision by the seven-member panel, which she chaired.

Lawyers Haris Ibrahim, Nur Ain Mustapa, and Sreekant Pillai filed a lawsuit against MACC last year to question the investigation against Nazlan.

The trio claimed that the investigation was a violation of the independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers.

The other judges who heard the suit were Court of Appeal President Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Chief Judge of Malaya Zabidin Diah, as well as Justices Nallini Pathmanathan, Vernon Ong, Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal, and Rhodzariah Bujang.

Tengku Maimun also questioned the timing of the investigation, especially with speculation over Najib Razak’s appeal against his conviction in the SRC International case at the time.

On July 28, 2020, Nazlan convicted Najib on charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering involving RM42 million belonging to SRC International, which had been deposited in the former Prime Minister’s bank accounts.

“The curious timing of the probe against Justice Nazlan, which was done without consultation with the judiciary, also casts doubt whether the investigation was bona fide,” she said.

Tengku Maimun said the Public Prosecutor must also consult the Chief Justice “during the course of giving instructions for investigations and in respect of his decision to prosecute”.

“While investigative bodies are constitutionally entitled to investigate, and the Public Prosecutor has the discretion whether to charge or otherwise, these powers must be exercised in good faith.

“If the investigation is done for collateral purpose, then it is liable to be set aside,” she said.

Lawyers Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and Surendra Ananth appeared for Haris, Ain, and Sreekant, while senior federal counsel Liew Horng Bin represented MACC.

New Sin Yew appeared for the Malaysian Bar as amicus curiae (friend of the court).