Federal Court should call up and quash all Federal Court decisions for nullity during tenure of Eusoff Chin and order fresh appeals to be heard where the majority of the judges had retired when judgement was delivered

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Sunday): The landmark Federal Court decision on Friday by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Tan Sri Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah that in the interest of justice, the Federal Court has the powers to review and revise its own decisions must be applauded as another important milestone in the long hard road to restore public confidence in the judiciary.

Supported by the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Steve Shim and the Federal Court judge Datuk Haidar Mohd Nor, Justice Dzaiddin disagreed that that the Federal Court has no jurisdiction to hear an application to set aside a judgment made by the same court and  said that  the law gives the court powers to hear any application or to make any order which is necessary to prevent injustice.

In the case in question, Justice Dzaiddin ruled that a judgment handed down last year by a panel chaired by his predecessor Tun Eusoff Chin was invalid as it was pronounced in open court after two of the three judges on the panel had retired.

The original judgment delivered on Dec. 22 had overturned a High Court decision dismissing a couple’s claim for the recovery of their shares and their ownership in a company called Peringkat Juta (M) Sdn. Bhd.

Justice Dzaiddin said the former panel - comprising Eusoff, Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Wan Adnan Ismail and retired Federal Court judge Datuk Dr. Zakaria Yatim - was not duly constituted as there was effectively only one judge by the time the judgement was delivered.  Dr. Zakaria and Eusoff retired on Jan. 25, 2000 and Dec. 20, 2000 respectively.

Justice Dzaiddin held that  the judgement on Dec. 22 was a nullity as the effective date of the judgment was the date of pronouncement in open court on Dec. 22 and not the date when it was signed by the remaining two judges of the court.

Are there any other such Federal Court decisions during  the tenure of the former Chief Justice, Tun Eusoff Chin, which are afflicted with nullity on similar ground and if so, the Federal Court should call up to quash  all these Federal Court judgements and  order fresh appeals to be heard to prevent injustice.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman