PUTRAJAYA: Online news publisher, Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd and two of its editors lost their bid to quash the Chief Justice's decision to appoint a judge who has been transferred to the Seremban High Court to hear a defamation suit against them by the prime minister.
In a unanimous decision, a three-man panel led by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum ruled that the application did not meet the threshold requirement of Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act (COJA).
"There is no noble issue to be decided by the court and we also find that the threshold of Section 96 have not been met.
"Therefore, the court dismisses the application," the judge said.
The panel, which also comprised Federal Court judges Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop and Tan Sri Ramly Ali, ordered the three applicants namely Mkini Dotcom, its editor-in-chief, Steven Gan and chief editor Fathi Aris Omar to pay RM10,000 in legal cost.
The trio were appealing against a High Court decision which refused to grant them leave to commence a judicial review to quash the decision of the Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Makinudin who assigned Seremban High Court judge Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said to hear the lawsuit.
They filed the application on grounds that Kamaludin had been transferred and that there was no compelling reason for the matter to be heard by a judge at the Seremban High Court since there were many other judges at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
Prior to this, the judge had served at the Kuala Lumpur Civil High Court.
On April 14, this year, the Court of Appeal ruled that Zulkefli's decision in appointing Kamaludin to hear the lawsuit was not amendable to judicial review as it was filed out of time.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Umno executive secretary Datuk Ab Rauf Yusoh filed the libel suit against the three parties following a series of readers' post published on their website.
The suit centred on two of Malaysiakini's articles on the www.malaysiakini.com portal on May 14, 2014.
They claimed that the publication of the articles had allegedly injured their reputation and sparked allusions that UMNO was incompetent as a political body and backbone of the Barisan Nasional.
Lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar represented the three applicants while senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh Serjit appeared for the Chief Justice.