By Bernama | The Star

The Federal Court has ordered the RM13.5bil lawsuit by Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd against former Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim over the restructuring of the state’s water services industry to go for full trial at the Shah Alam High Court.

This was after Justice Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat dismissed Abdul Khalid’s application for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling on Wednesday (June 23).

On Feb 11 this year, the Court of Appeal had allowed Puncak Niaga’s appeal to reverse the Shah Alam High Court ruling to strike out its suit against Abdul Khalid and reinstated Abdul Khalid as a defendant in the suit. The court also ordered the suit to go for a full trial.

Justice Ong, who heard the leave application via online proceedings said he was mindful that this was an interlocutory application involving the Court of Appeal decision for full trial to be entered, overturning the High Court decision to strike out the suit.

“The question if the suit is time-barred has not been decided by the High Court or the Court of Appeal. I accept the leave questions are of general importance.

“However, since neither the High Court or Court of Appeal made a ruling, I feel the threshold of Section 96 (on granting leave) Court of Judicature Act 1964 had not been met. The leave questions posed are mixed with facts and law and need to be properly ventilated in the trial. Therefore, I am dismissing the motion,” said the judge and ordered Abdul Khalid to pay costs of RM30, 000 to Puncak Niaga.

He made the decision after hearing submissions from counsel Gopal Sreenevasan for Puncak Niaga and Edmund Bon Tai Soon who appeared for Abdul Khalid.

Initially, Puncak Niaga filed the suit against Abdul Khalid, the Selangor Government and Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali as the defendants.

On Feb 22, 2018, the Shah Alam High Court had granted the three defendants’ application to strike out the suit resulting in Puncak Niaga filing an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

On Feb 11, this year, the Court of Appeal allowed Puncak Niaga’s appeal to reverse the Shah Alam High Court ruling to strike out its suit against Abdul Khalid and the Selangor government.

However, the court dismissed Puncak Niaga’s appeal over the High Court’s decision to strike out its suit against Mohamed Azmin.

In the lawsuit filed in 2017, Puncak Niaga claimed that Abdul Khalid and Mohamed Azmin had abused their powers by threatening to cause the federal government to invoke the Water Services Industry Act 2006 to force the takeover of the water services industry in Selangor.

The company claimed for damages, interest and costs over the loss of business opportunities in the country and abroad, totalling RM13.5bil.