On Wednesday (23 August), the Federal Court decided to uphold convicted prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s guilty verdict over the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to government-owned SRC International Sdn Bhd.
With this, Najib has exhausted all his legal avenues and will begin serving his 12-year prison sentence.
Nonetheless, if you are curious about what options Najib has to be a free man once again, there are currently 2 methods, reported Malay Mail.
1. Challenge on the grounds of miscarriage of justice
According to Vivekananda Sukumaran, co-chair of the Bar Council’s criminal law committee, Najib can seek a review of the Federal Court’s decision but he must remain in prison while waiting for the outcome of the review application.
Vivekananda said the current precedent in the Federal Court is that a review is not seen as an appeal and that a stay application can only be considered or granted when it involves an appeal.
He shared that Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 recognises the Federal Court’s inherent power to review its previous decisions to prevent an injustice or an abuse of process and that it has been mostly used to set aside decisions by the Federal Court.
However, former Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir Bhaskaran said the review is not an appeal and there is no guarantee that the application for the review would be granted. He added that it is rare for the Federal Court to decide an appeal should be reheard.
“The application can be grounded upon based on various circumstances. The review will only be considered in rare and very exceptional cases.
“The inherent power cannot be invoked to review its own decisions on its merit. Applicant must show that he suffered substantial or serious miscarriage of justice based on various grounds,” he said.
2. Seek royal pardon
Najib’s second option is obtaining a royal pardon, a move that was famously employed by his political rival, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in May 2018 following Pakatan Harapan’s election victory.
Salim said the royal pardon is entrenched in the Federal Constitution’s Article 42(1), which bestows on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Sultan the powers to grant a pardon or reprieve to a convict, and that it would have the effect of removing legal punishments and giving a person a “clean slate”.
However, Salim share that seeking a pardon is an “extraneous process outside the court system” and as seeking a stay is part of the court process when it involves appeals or review applications.
Thus, Najib will not be able to apply for a stay of execution when waiting for a pardon outcome.
As for how long it would take to know the outcome of requests for a pardon, Salim said, “This depends and by an ordinary process via pardon boards, it takes months.”