Appeal Court reverses Karpal’s sedition acquittal, orders defence
UPDATED @ 03:37:48 PM 20-01-2012
PUTRAJAYA, Jan 20 — The Court of Appeal today allowed an appeal by the Attorney-General's Chambers against a High Court decision to acquit and discharge lawyer Karpal Singh of a charge of uttering seditious words against the Perak Sultan during the height of the state's constitutional crisis in 2009.
Reading from a lengthy judgment here, Justice Datuk Ahmad Maarop who sat with justices Datuk Clement Alan Skinner and Datuk Mohamad Apandi Ali, said the appellants had successfully proved a prima facie case against the DAP chairman.
He told the court the decision was unanimous and called on Karpal to enter his defence.
Karpal had been indicted under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 for allegedly uttering seditious words against the Perak Sultan at his legal firm in Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur on February 6, 2009, during the Perak constitutional crisis.
He is alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin as Perak mentri besar and the appointment of Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir by the Sultan could be questioned in a court of law.
Karpal was later acquitted of the charges by trial judge Azman Abdullah. The A-G’s Chambers subsequently filed its appeal last year, contending that the judge had taken a wrong approach when he ruled the prosecution had failed to prove prima facie.
In today’s judgement, the three-man panel maintained that Karpal’s words during the press conference at his office had “seditious tendency” towards the Perak Sultan and had affected the Rulers ties with his subjects.
The justices agreed that contrary to the respondents’ earlier defence, in a matter concerning sedition, the question of intention does not arise and it is for the court to determine “seditious tendency”.
“The press conference was called with intention for it to be aired. If not, it would not have been called.
“The respondent (Karpal) did not stop after saying that the removal of Nizar from his post was ultra vires the Constitution. He went on to repeatedly say that the Perak Sultan had violated the law,” said Justice Ahmad read.
The panel also said it was unnecessary to prove a nexus between the violent protests that took place at the Ubudiah mosque in Kuala Kangsar during the day of the press conference and Karpal’s statement.
During the appeal hearing last July, the prosecution had conceded that there was no nexus between the two events but argued that Karpal had aggravated an already tense situation during the Perak constitutional crisis.
Justice Ahmad also said the prosecution’s inclusion of Section 3(1)(f) of the Sedition Act at the appeal stage had not placed Karpal at a tactical disadvantage as alleged. The original trial revolved around Section 3(1)(a) and (d).
Section 3(1)(f) defines acts as seditious if they “question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution”.
Article 181, which was the prosecution’s focus during the appeal hearing, guarantees the sovereignty, rights, powers and jurisdictions of each Malay Ruler within their respective states, and indicates that they can only be charged in a court of law for personal wrongdoing and not in their official capacities as Rulers.
Justice Ahmad set February 9 for the Kuala Lumpur High Court to determine the date of Karpal’s defence.