Adib’s case: Appeals Court hears that coroner has no power to issue leave for committal proceedings

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The coroner who heard the inquest into fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death did not have the jurisdiction to issue leave to commence committal proceedings against former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Lawyer Datuk S Ambiga, representing Thomas, said Article 126 of the Federal Constitution and Section 13 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 provided the power to the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Court.

“The jurisdiction of the coroner is only restricted to contempt in the face of the court,” said Ambiga when submitting before a three-member bench of the Court of Appeal, comprising Justice Datuk Suraya Othman, Datuk Abu Bakar Jais and Datuk Hashim Hamzah.

However, Ambiga said the leave for committal proceedings against the former AG was not contempt in the face of the court as it was filed about two or three months later, adding that for cases involving contempt in the face of the court, there should be immediate action by the judge.

Ambiga said a coroner cannot entertain the application (leave to initiate committal proceedings) under Order 52 of the Rules of the High Court, adding that she could only take action in relation to any contempt in the face of the court.

The Court of Appeal decided to proceed to hear first the appeal brought by the Attorney General’s Chambers on whether the Coroner’s Court has the jurisdiction to hear and decide on committal proceedings.

The other two appeals were brought by Muhammad Adib’s father, Mohd Kassim Abdul Hamid which included the appeal against a High Court’s decision in setting aside the Coroner’s decision to give him leave to initiate committal proceedings against Thomas.

However, the appeal hearing proceedings which was conducted virtually was cut short as the judges could not hear clearly what Mohd Kassim’s lawyer, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla was saying.

Although the court stood down the proceedings to allow Mohamed Haniff Khatri to rectify his internet at his office, he was unable to solve it.

The court then fixed August 27 for case management and the appeal hearing date would be set after the court registry, together with Mohamed Haniff Khatri, conducted a test run on the communication system.

In his application, Mohd Kassim, 67, claimed that Thomas had insulted the court through an affidavit filed by the AGC on April 3, 2019, regarding the cause of his son’s death.

Muhammad Adib, 24, who was a member of the emergency medical rescue services (EMRS) at the Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue station, was seriously injured in a riot at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, USJ 25, on November 27, 2018.

He died on December 17, 2018 after 21 days at the National Heart Institute.

On September 27, 2019, the Coroner’s Court ruled that Muhammad Adib’s death was a result of a criminal act by more than two people.

An inquest into Muhammad Adib’s death, by Coroner Rofiah Mohamad, commenced on February 11, 2019, after two conflicting versions of the cause of his death emerged.