KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A High Court in Malaysia has struck out a civil suit filed by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and five others against Prime Minister Najib Razak, implying that he had acted corruptly and illegally in receiving RM2.6 billion in his personal accounts.
The Election Commission (EC) succeeded in its bid to convince the court to struck out the civil action against it aimed to nullify the results of the 13th General Election and set aside the results of each of the 222 parliamentary seats.
The Barisan Nasional (BN), through its secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, also managed to get the court to strike out the suit intended to deregister the political party.
1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) also succeeded in its bid to strike out the suit against it to get a declaration that 1MDB corruptly and illegally paid RM2.7 billion of its monies to the prime minister.
Judicial Commissioner Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab held that the plaintiffs could not defend the civil claim under the law and allowed for the four defendants to summarily strike out the suit against them without going for a trial.
JC Mohd Zaki ruled that PKR has no legal standing to bring the action against the prime minister.
"In this claim, PKR is not represented by its public officer or any office-bearers of the party, so it has no locus standi (legal standing) to bring the action," said JC Mohd Zaki.
Besides that, he said five other opposition leaders have to show that they have interest to bring the legal action against Mr Najib.
"They want to get a relief which is criminal in nature, to declare that Najib has committed a criminal act, but this civil court has no jurisdiction to order for such criminal declaration," he said.
JC Mohd Zaki said further that only the Attorney General is vested with the power to initiate criminal proceedings.
On the part for EC, he said, only the Election Court could make declaration over election disputes.
He said Article 118 of the Federal Constitution clearly stated that the only method to question an election to the House of Representatives is by way of an election petition presented to the High Court to decide the matter.
On the part of Barisan Nasional, JC Mohd Zaki said that the civil court has no jurisdiction to deregister the political party and to declare it to be allegedly involved in unlawful activities.
"I find that this court has not been given the power under the Societies Act 1966 to issue a declaration to deregister a party over criminal activities," he said.
He said only the Registrar could declare a society to be illegal under Section 41 of the Societies Act.
On the part of 1MDB over alleged conspiracy, he said the plaintiffs could not support the claim which was clearly based on "hearsay".
"The plaintiffs did not have facts which could be used to deny the contention of 1MDB. There are no clear aspects on conspiracy," said the judicial commissioner.
He said he found that the claim against 1MDB was an abuse of court process.
He ordered the plaintiffs to pay RM15,000 in costs to Mr Najib, BN while another RM10,000 each to 1MDB and the EC.
Speaking to reporters here, lead counsel Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, for Mr Najib and BN, said he hoped that all issues relating on the RM2.6 billion donation will now be put to rest.
Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said they would discuss further whether to appeal against the court ruling while Batu MP Tian Chua said they would seek for a public donation to pursue the case.
PKR and several opposition leaders sued Mr Najib for alleged breach of election laws following the expose by the Wall Street Journal that RM2.6 billion was deposited into his personal accounts.
In the lawsuit filed on Aug 12 last year, the other plaintiffs are jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, former Parti Islam SeMalaysia MP for Kuala Selangor Dzulkefly Ahmad, PKR election director Saifuddin Nasution, Ms Nurul Izzah and Mr Tian Chua.
The defendants are Mr Najib, BN (through Tengku Adnan), 1MDB and the EC.
In the suit, the plaintiffs, among others, sought for a declaration that by reason of the commission of corrupt and/or illegal practices, Barisan is an unlawful society under Section 41 of the Societies Act 1966 and a consequential order be made deregistering it.
They applied for a declaration that 1MDB corruptly and illegally paid RM2.7 billion of its monies to the prime minister and that the premier was holding the money as a constructive trustee.
The plaintiffs sought for a declaration that the Prime Minister, Mr Tengku Adnan, 1MDB and the EC acted individually or in conspiracy with each other, practiced fraud on the electorate of Malaysia by the commission of corrupt and or illegal practices in the 13th General Election.
Alternatively, they wanted an order for the EC to conduct free and fair fresh elections for all 222 parliamentary seats and the Federal Government continues to remain in office as a caretaker government with limited powers until results of fresh elections are known.