Petronas loses in its appeal to recuse judicial commissioner

State Legal Counsel JC Fong. (file photo)

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KUCHING, Mar 6: Petronas lost in its appeal to recuse Judicial Commissioner Christoper Chin in the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya today.

The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya today dismissed Petronas’ appeal against the refusal by Judicial Commissioner Christopher Chin to recuse himself from hearing the Civil Suit brought by the Comptroller of State Sales Tax n Sarawak Government to recover RM1.3 billion of unpaid State Sales Tax from Petronas.

The Court comprises Dato Badariah Sahamit, Datuk Vezeer Alam Mydin and S Nathan Balan unanimously held that there was no ground to recuse Christopher Chin.

On the role of the Prime Minister in the appointment of High Court judge which Petronas said might give rise to an apprehension that the Judicial Commissioner would not give a decision that would undermine his prospects of confirmation as a High Court judge with security of tenure, the appellate judges ruled that the Prime Minister has no role in the selection of High Court judges under the Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2009.

In fact, Section 3 of the Act made it obligatory for the Prime Minister to uphold judicial independence and in so doing, has to advise the Agong on the candidate selected by the Commission to be appointed High Court Judge.

Taking all factual circumstances into account, the Judges found there was no real danger of bias if the case is heard by Judicial Commissioner Chin.

The Court was informed by State Legal Counsel Dato Sri JC Fong that State Government and Petronas do not question the competence and integrity of Chin to hear what Petronas describes as “a highly contentious and politically charged case”.

Dato Malik Imtiaz and Alvin Chong appeared for Petronas.

State Legal Officers Evy Liana Atang and Oliver Chua assisted Fong to present the State Government’s case. — DayakDaily