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Apex court allows MACC to appeal over notice to lawyers in NFC case

PUTRAJAYA, April 6 (Bernama) -- The Federal Court today gave the nod to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to appeal against a ruling over a notice to two lawyers in relation to investigations into a case involving the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC).

Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, chairing a five-man bench, allowed MACC leave to appeal on one question to be argued in the appeal proper, that is whether a criminal investigative process such as a notice of investigation issued under Section 30 (1)(a) of the MACC act is amenable to judicial review.

The section states that an officer of the MACC investigating an offence under the act may order any person to attend before him for the purpose of being examined orally in relation to any matter which may, in his opinion, assist in the investigation into the offence.

The other four Federal Court judges were Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Datuk Zainun Ali, Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha and Datuk Seri Abu Samah Nordin.

The notice was issued by the MACC to Latheefa Koya and Murnie Hidayah Anuar, requesting them to be present at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya on March 23, 2012, to assist in the investigations involving NFC executive chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail.

The MACC is seeking the leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal's dismissal of its appeal over a High Court decision.

On Jan 30, 2013, the High Court quashed the notice dated March 19, 2012, after allowing the judicial review application by the lawyers, who named the MACC, the government and MACC assistant superintendent Suziana Ali as respondents.

The lawyers had claimed in their application that they were being compelled, through the notice, to be present at the MACC headquarters and failure to abide by the notice is an offence under Section 48(c) of the MACC Act 2009, punishable under Section 69 of the same act, which carries a maximum RM10,000 fine or two years' jail or both, upon conviction.

Latheefa and Murnie Hidayah claimed they were served the notice on the same day, on March 19, 2012, after accompanying their client, former NFC consultant Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail, to the MACC office to give his statement regarding Mohamad Salleh's case.

They contended that the notice was void and contravened the provisions under Article 5(2) of the Federal Constitution.

High Court judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof had ruled the notice as invalid and an abuse of power and had also held that the MACC officers did not have the authority to record statements from lawyers who accompany their clients.

Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan appeared for MACC in the appeal while Latheefa and Murnie Hidayah were represented by lawyer M. Puravalen.

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