PUTRAJAYA (Dec 7): The Federal Court on Tuesday (Dec 7) ruled that a Sabahan held under preventive detention for drug related offences remains a free man after the investigating officer in his case failed to complete a report on his arrest.
The officer was said to have not continued investigating Abang Sari Lasikan’s detention after the fourth day he was held due to his work load, despite having to submit the report within 60 days.
“There should be no delay in the submission of the report [for detention]. The time limit should be within 60 days. The time limit is envisaged to be stipulated within the 60-day period,” said Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.
“This means the specific time period for the report needs to be made. It is incorrect to suggest that the minister did not stipulate a time. This is depriving the liberty of a person. If excessive time is taken over production of the requisite report it will affect the duration of the detention time.”
She added that if the report was lodged early, the minister may even decide not to detain him, and he would have been released immediately.
Sitting with the chief justice were Federal Court judges Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Mohd Salleh and Datuk P Nalini, who were unanimous in allowing the release of Abang Sari.
“The failure by the minister to prescribe time [to complete the report] warrants even greater scrutiny by the court to ensure matters are not left at large for the entirety 60 days, which this case (Abang Sari) appears to imply.
“Officers in charge [of such cases] are required to prioritise these cases as it involves the liberty of a person whose rights as a citizen are entitled to a full recognition under the Federal Constitution and must be respected,” she said.
For these reasons, Tengku Maimun said the bench did not accept submissions by senior federal counsel Farah Ezlin Yusop Khan on behalf of the home minister and the senior commissioner of the Simpang Renggam detention centre.
Notably, the apex court also saw nothing wrong with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin signing the detention order with his public name, and not his real name Mahiaddin Md Yassin, when he was home minister.
The chief justice said the court knows who the home minister was at the time the order was signed and did not consider it a legal issue.
“We do not agree with the High Court judicial commissioner and that there are merits with the home minister's appeal because there is only one home minister at the material time [of the detention],” she said.
In April this year, the Shah Alam High Court allowed the release of Abang Sari's habeas corpus application, with one of the reasons being that Muhyiddin had signed the order using his public name rather than that registered on his MyKad as Mahiaddin.
In habeas corpus cases, after the matter is heard at the High Court, the appeal goes straight to the Federal Court.
Counsel Nur Astry Amami appeared for Abang Sari, who was present in the apex court proceedings via zoom application.