When Did Dato Seri Najib Razak Exhaust All Avenues of Appeal?

In August 2022, the Federal Court upheld Dato Seri Najib bin Tun Razak (“DSNR“)’s conviction and sentence (“the August 2022 Decision”).[1]

DSNR then, in September 2022, filed a motion to review the August 2022 Decision (“Motion”)[2] pursuant to Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995.

The Federal Court recently dismissed the Motion in a split 4-1 decision (“the March 2023 Decision”).[3]

Ong Lam Kiat Vernon FCJ, Rhodzariah binti Bujang FCJ, Nordin bin Hassan FCJ, and Abu Bakar bin Jais JCA[4] formed the majority which dismissed the Motion.[5]

Abdul Rahman bin Sebli CJSS was the sole dissenting judge.[6]

In a press conference regarding the March 2023 Decision, Datuk V Sithambaram, the ad hoc prosecutor for DSNR’s SRC International case,[7] was quoted as saying inter alia that DSNR has “exhausted all avenues of appeals.”[8]

It is submitted that DSNR exhausted all avenues of appeal back in August 2022 and not in March 2023.

It is trite law that:

(a) the Motion involves an exercise of the Federal Court’s inherent power;[9]

(b) the Motion is not intended to review the merits of the August 2022 Decision;[10] and

(c) the Motion is not intended to operate as another tier of appeal.[11]

This would mean that the appellate process for DSNR’s matter concluded in August 2022 with the August 2022 Decision.

DSNR’s matter originated in the High Court[12] and DSNR subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeal[13] and then to the Federal Court.[14]

The final outcome was the August 2022 Decision.

Thus, the August 2022 Decision marks DSNR’s exhaustion of all avenues of appeal.

The March 2023 Decision, however, practically and realistically, marks DSNR’s exhaustion of all local judicial avenues/routes.[15]