PUTRAJAYA, August 28 – The judiciary created history today when a nine-member bank of the federal court met for the first time to hear a commercial case with constitutional issues.
Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum led the court to hear a constitutional reference application in the case between JRI Resources Sdn Bhd and Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd (KFH).
Also on the court were Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Chief Judge or Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk David Wong Dak Wah.
The five others were judges Tan Sri Ramly Ali, Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin, Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Judge Sri Sri Idrus Harun.
The court allowed the media to make photos of the court of the federal court before hearing the case at about 9.30 am.
Previously, the newly appointed chief judge had said that a bank with nine members would hear constitutional matters.
In the past, a bank of seven members was the maximum number that such matters had heard in the Federal Court.
Today's case concerned civil proceedings that KFH took against JRI Resources in 2013 for the recovery of an outstanding amount of RM118,822,066.59 due to the Finance House for four Ijarah Facilities Agreements and one Murabahah Tawarruq agreement between them in 2008 and 2009.
KFH also filed a claim against three guarantors.
The question for the determination of the federal court was whether Sections 56 and 57 of the Central Bank of Malaysia Act 2008 (CBMA) were constitutional for the detriment of the judiciary, as the sections claimed that statements of the Syariah Advisory Council (SAC) ) bind the Civil High. Court.
The JRI Resources lawyer, Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, has argued that under these provisions the role of the SAC goes beyond verifying Islamic law.
"By forcing the Supreme Court to submit questions from Saria to the SAC and then to bind the High Court to the SAC's rulings, these provisions actually take over the judicial function and power," he said.
Meanwhile, lawyer Yoong Sin Min, representative of KFH, said that the role of the SAC was only to determine whether the transaction was in accordance with the Islamic law on Syaria and did not decide on the commercial dispute.
The Association of Islamic Banking Institutions of Malaysia (AIBIM) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) have become interveners in the procedure.
Malanjum reserved the decision of the court after the parties had finalized their observations in court. – Bernama