Federal Court rejects Anwar's request to be present in leave to appeal hearing

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today rejected jailed Pakatan Harapan de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's request to be present in his leave to appeal application hearing of his civil case over his right to vote in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election in May 2015.

A three-man panel chaired by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin in dismissing Anwar's application, held that there was no evidence at this moment to show that Anwar's presence was required to conduct his leave to appeal application.

"We find the applicant is a prisoner and is subjected to Section 30 (1) of the Prisons Act 1995," he said, adding that there was no material for the court to exercise its discretion to allow Anwar to be present at the hearing.

Section 30 (1) of the Act states that whenever the presence of a prisoner is required in a court having civil or criminal jurisdiction, the court may issue an order in the prescribed form addressed to the officer in charge requiring for the production of that prisoner at the time and place to be named in the order.

Federal Court judges Tan Sri Hasan Lah and Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha were the other two on the panel.

The 70-year-old Anwar who is serving a five-year jail term at Sungai Buloh Prison for sodomy had applied for him to attend the hearing of his leave to appeal application at the Federal Court which is set for Dec 15.

His counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram submitted that Anwar has a constitutional right to be present at any litigation to which he is a party.

He said Anwar retained his civil rights to litigation although he is in prison and should be given access to instruct his lawyers when his matter was being heard.

Senior federal counsel Datuk Amarjeet Singh said Anwar's right to appear in court depended on the court's discretion to decide whether a prisoner's presence was required in court.

He said in this case, Anwar's leave to appeal application would be heard purely on documents which did not require his presence.

He said the application requesting for an order to produce (OTP) to be issued to enable Anwar to attend the hearing of the leave to appeal application was rightly rejected by the court registrar.

On June 13, this year, Anwar lost his appeal at the Court of Appeal which had upheld a High Court dismissal of his bid for a declaration on his right to vote in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election on May 7, 2015.

The High Court had ruled on July 15, last year that the Election Commission (EC) has no jurisdiction to bring him to the polling station for him to cast his vote in any election.

It ruled that a prisoner who has been registered as a voter before his conviction has the right to vote but the EC has no jurisdiction to bring him to the polling station for him to cast his vote in any election.

The High Court held that the respective prisoner has to apply to the Prisons Department director-general to make the necessary arrangements to allow the prisoner to vote. — Bernama