Family will now take the matter up to Federal Court.
Former premier Najib Abdul Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor, two of Najib’s siblings, and four others have today managed to strike out a suit filed by the widow of private investigator P Balasubramaniam, A Santamil Selvi, and her three children.
Santamil and her family had filed for damages for being forced into exile in India for nearly five years in relation to the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
The unanimous decision was made by a three-member Court of Appeal bench led by Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat today.
The two Najib siblings are Ahmad Johari and Nazim, while the other four were senior lawyer Cecil Abraham, his son Sunil, lawyer M Arulampalam and commissioner of oaths Zainal Abidin Muhayat.
In Justice Tengku Maimun’s decision, she said the suit which Santamil filed in August 2017 was time-barred.
“Time-barred” in civil suits means that a person has been barred from filing a claim or lawsuit, as it has been filed too late.
In this case, Justice Tengku Maimun identified that it had been more than the permitted six years since the family’s purported exile in India, or more precisely, July 4, 2008, when her late husband made his second statutory declaration regarding Shaariibuu’s murder.
Furthermore, the bench ruled that this suit, in which Santamil named the same defendants as those in her first suit for conspiracy, was an abuse of the court process.
The bench, which also comprised of Court of Appeal judges Justice Suraya Othman and Justice Stephen Chung, ordered Santamil to pay total costs of RM32,000 to the eight defendants.
Suit against Deepak remains
Despite the decision today, a suit filed by Santamil and her children against another defendant, carpet businessman Deepak Jaikishian, still stays as he has withdrawn his striking out application.
Earlier, former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram wanted the appellate court to accept Deepak’s defence dated Oct 25 last year as part of the appeal records in the proceedings, as this defence had been accepted by the High Court last month.
The defence statement implicates Najib and Rosmah in causing the exile of Santamil’s family, and confirms Deepak’s role in the matter.
Sri Ram had argued that Deepak’s accepted defence shows the role played by the eight defendants, who are appealing the dismissal of their striking-out application by Justice Hue Siew Kheng on Jan 30.
However, Tengku Maimun dismissed Sri Ram’s application.
Following today’s decision, Sri Ram indicated they will take the matter up to the Federal Court.
He had earlier argued in his submissions that the suit filed last August was not time-barred as the time period should begin from the date the family returned from India, which was in February 2013.
Balasubramaniam died a month after returning to Malaysia due to a heart attack.
Santamil Selvi and her children filed their first suit in 2014 against Najib, Rosmah, and the other same defendants, for allegedly committing a conspiracy that forced their family to be exiled in India for five years.
The first suit was never heard on its merits as it was struck out on the grounds of locus standi (legal standing) and the family had since exhausted the appeals process.
Santamil and her family then filed the second suit on Aug 1 last year, claiming injury and loss of income.
Today, lawyers Rishwant Singh who appeared for Cecil and Sunil, Mohd Hafarizam Harun for Najib and Rosmah, B Thangaraj for Nazim and Dhinesh Bhaskaran for Ahmad Johari and others argued that the second suit was barred by time and also it was res judicata.
Res judicata is a Latin term which means the matter has been adjudicated by a competent court.
They had also earlier opposed Sri Ram’s bid to admit Deepak’s defence. – Malaysiakini
Earlier report: Sep 7, PM and Wife Seek to Strike out Suit by PI Bala’s Family