Hornbill Unleashed

July 25, 2017

Oil royalty: Apex court to decide whether questions of law can be heard

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

The Federal Court will decide whether 14 questions of law posed by the PAS-led Kelantan government, which had filed a suit against Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and the government regarding the oil royalty issue, can be heard at the High Court.

This comes after Petronas and the government were today granted leave by a three-member Federal Court bench, led by Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif, to decide on three questions posed by Petronas on the issue of whether the Kelantan government’s questions could be posed.

An earlier apex court bench had allowed six questions from the oil conglomerate and three more from the court to be determined by the High Court after ordering that the trial be conducted on questions of law rather than the hearing of witnesses.

“We are unanimous in granting leave to Petronas and the government on this matter. No order is made as to costs,” said Justice Md Raus.

The other two judges were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judge Justice Hasan Lah.

The Federal Court had on July 2, 2013, allowed Petronas’ application under Order 14A of the Rules of Courts 2012, to dispose a case by determining points of law, where the hearing is to be done at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, where the suit was filed by the then Kelantan menteri besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

Kelantan had sought an order that all arrears of cash payments be paid to Kelantan and an order that all future cash payments be made to the state in its 47-page statement of claim.

On July 2, 2013, the Federal Court ordered the suit to be remitted to the High Court for disposal, by way of determining the points of law without a full trial via witnesses under Order 14A of the Rules of Courts 2012.

In the ruling, the five-member panel of the Federal Court led by then Federal Court judge Abdull Hamid Embong said there was no dispute of facts in the case,  as to require the court to call witnesses to testify.

When the case was remitted to the High Court, the Kelantan government represented by senior lawyer Tommy Thomas had during case management submitted 14 questions of law.

This is besides the six questions of law posed by Petronas and three other questions posed by the court.

While High Court judge Justice Rosnani Saub dismissed the application for the Kelantan government to pose the questions, the Court of Appeal led by Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim had on Dec 7, 2015, allowed the 14 questions.

The 14 questions involve what rights the state government possesses over petroleum, onshore and offshore Kelantan, prior to the coming into force of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 on Oct 1, 1974, and the execution of the Kelantan Agreement and Kelantan Grant on May 9, 1975.

The other issue was whether by refusing cash payments to Kelantan, Petronas had acted in breach of Article 13 of the Federal Constitution.

Petronas senior lawyer Cecil Abraham told the three-member bench that the 14 questions posed by the Kelantan government ran contrary to Order 14A of the Rules of Court as it can only be posed by way of motion or written application.

“The Court of Appeal has no power or has exceeded its power to insert the 14 questions in addition to the earlier ones decided before an earlier panel,” he said.

Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, who appeared for the government, adopted Cecil’s submission and posed two questions but Justice Md Raus noted that they are similar to the three questions raised.

Tommy said the Kelantan government should be allowed to insert the questions as the six questions posed by Petronas represented its interests and not the state government’s.

“The plaintiff filed the suit and should be allowed to pose the questions of law. Furthermore, these 14 questions were raised during case management of the case and the Order 14A also states that parties could make an oral application at the interlocutory stage,” he said.

Source : Malaysiakini by  Hafiz Yatim



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