SIA CHENG SOON & ANOR v. TENGKU ISMAIL TENGKU IBRAHIM

SIA CHENG SOON & ANOR v. TENGKU ISMAIL TENGKU IBRAHIM
FEDERAL COURT, PUTRAJAYA
ABDUL HAMID MOHAMAD, CJ; ZAKI TUN AZMI, PCA; ARIFFIN ZAKARIA, FCJ
CIVIL APPLICATION NO: 08-151-2007 (N)
15 MAY 2008
[2008] 5 CLJ 201


CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: Courts – Jurisdiction of Federal Court – Reference to Federal Court of issues of law pertaining to case that commenced in Sessions Court – Whether permitted – Inherent jurisdiction of court – Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP – Rules of the Federal Court 1995, r. 137

CIVIL PROCEDURE: Jurisdiction – Federal Court – Reference to Federal Court of issues of law pertaining to case that commenced in Sessions Court – Whether permitted – Inherent jurisdiction of court – Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP – Rules of the Federal Court 1995, r. 137

CIVIL PROCEDURE: Jurisdiction – Inherent jurisdiction of court – Federal Court – Reference to Federal Court of issues of law pertaining to case that commenced in Sessions Court – Whether permitted – Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP – Rules of the Federal Court 1995, r. 137

CIVIL LAW ACT: Damages – Claim for damages – Reference to Federal Court of issues of law pertaining to case that commenced in Sessions Court – Whether permitted – Inherent jurisdiction of court – Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP – Rules of the Federal Court 1995, r. 137

The first and second respondents, the parents of the deceased who died in a road accident, brought a claim for bereavement and funeral expenses under s. 7 of the Civil Law Act 1956 (‘CLA’) in the Sessions Court. The case proceeded on two issues only ie, on liability and on the issue of limitation. The Sessions Court gave judgment for the respondents but the High Court subsequently allowed the applicant’s appeal against that decision. The respondents then appealed to the Court of Appeal, which allowed their appeal, resulting in the applicant’s application for leave to appeal to this court (‘first application’). Upon the respondents’ preliminary objection that the first application was defective since the suit had originated in the Sessions Court, this court dismissed the first application. The applicant then filed this application praying for leave to appeal to this court or alternatively to refer the issues hereunder set out to the Federal Court under its inherent jurisdiction as provided under r. 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 (‘RFC’) on a point of law. Reliance was placed on the judgment of this court in Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP, where the applicant’s application for this court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to review the decision of the Court of Appeal – even though the case commenced in the Sessions Court – was allowed.

Held (dismissing the application)

Per Abdul Hamid Mohamad CJ:

(1) Jurisdiction of this court is given by law ie, the Federal Constitution (‘FC’) and statute. The law provides that an appeal from a decision of the Sessions Court ends at the Court of Appeal. Since there is no appeal to this court, does r. 137 of the RFC allow issues of law to be “referred” to this court? With respect, it could not be so. To allow it to be done is like accepting with the left hand what the right hand rejects. After all, even appeals to this court are only on “points of law”, to use a general phrase to cover the provisions of s. 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (‘CJA’). When a matter ends in the Court of Appeal, it ends there, the whole of it. There has to be a provision in the law for this court to have jurisdiction to have such issues of law referred to it. For example, in the Industrial Relations Act 1967, there is a provision that allows the Industrial Court to refer a question of law to the High Court for its determination – s. 33A. See also s. 16Z of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966. Going back to r. 137 of the RFC, the same reasons that were given by this court in Abdul Ghaffar Mohd Amin v. Ibrahim Yusoff & Anor in discussing whether r. 137 of the RFC permits an appeal not permitted by statute equally applied in this instance. There is no valid reason for a distinction to be made in respect of an appeal and a “reference”. (paras 9, 10 & 11 )

(2) With regard to the case of Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock (supra), it was misplaced to apply the CLA relating to civil law in a criminal case. The reasoning in that case was flawed and could not be resorted to in support of this application. (para 19)

Bahasa Malaysia> Translation Of Headnotes

Responden-responden pertama dan kedua, iaitu ibu bapa simati yang meninggal dunia dalam satu kemalangan jalanraya, telah memfail tuntutan di Mahkamah Sesyen di bawah s. 7 Akta Undang-Undang Sivil 1956 (‘CLA’) kerana kehilangan dan perbelanjaan pengkebumian. Kes didengar atas dua isu, iaitu atas isu-isu liabiliti dan had masa. Mahkamah Sesyen memutuskan untuk responden-responden, namun rayuan pemohon terhadapnya telah dibenarkan oleh Mahkamah Tinggi. Responden-responden merayu ke Mahkamah Rayuan, dan ini membangkitkan permohonan oleh pemohon di sini untuk kebenaran untuk merayu ke mahkamah ini (‘permohonan pertama’). Responden-responden bagaimanapun membangkitkan bantahan awal bahawa permohonan pertama cacat disebabkan guaman berasal di Mahkamah Sesyen, dan akibatnya, mahkamah ini menolak permohonan pertama. Berikutan itu, pemohon memfail pula permohonan semasa, sekaligus memohon kebenaran untuk merayu ke mahkamah ini, atau sebagai alternatifnya untuk merujuk isu-isu yang menyangkuti persoalan undang-undang ke mahkamah ini, berdasarkan bidangkuasa sedia ada mahkamah ini di bawah k. 137 Kaedah-kaedah Mahkamah Persekutuan 1995 (‘RFC’). Pergantungan dibuat ke atas keputusan mahkamah ini di dalam Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP, di mana permohonan pemohon supaya mahkamah ini menggunakan bidangkuasa sedia adanya bagi menyemak keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan – walaupun kes bermula di Mahkamah Sesyen – telah dibenarkan.

Diputuskan (menolak permohonan)

Oleh Abdul Hamid Mohamad KHN:

(1) Bidangkuasa mahkamah ini diberikan oleh undang-undang, iaitu Perlembagaan Persekutuan (‘FC’) dan statut. Undang-undang memperuntukkan bahawa satu rayuan dari satu keputusan Mahkamah Sesyen berakhir di Mahkamah Rayuan. Oleh itu, oleh kerana tiada rayuan ke mahkamah ini dibuat, adakah k. 137 RFC membenarkan isu undang-undang “dirujuk” ke mahkamah ini? Dengan hormat, jawapannya adalah tidak. Membenarkan rujukan sedemikian samalah seperti menerima dengan tangan kiri apa yang ditolak oleh tangan kanan. Sementelah, rayuan-rayuan ke mahkamah ini sekalipun, menggunakan ungkapan umum untuk menyerlahkan peruntukan s. 96 Akta Mahkamah Kehakiman 1964 (‘CJA’), hanya boleh dibuat atas “persoalan undang-undang”. Apabila sesuatu perkara berakhir di Mahkamah Rayuan, ia akan keseluruhannya berakhir di situ. Jika tidak, harus ada peruntukan jelas di dalam undang-undang memberikan bidangkuasa kepada mahkamah bagi membolehkan isu-isu sedemikian dirujuk kepadanya. Sebagai contoh, di dalam Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967, terdapat peruntukan yang membenarkan Mahkamah Perusahaan merujuk persoalan undang-undang ke Mahkamah Tinggi untuk keputusan – iaitu s. 33A. Lihat juga s. 16Z Akta Pemajuan Perumahan (Kawalan dan Pelesenan) 1966. Mengimbas kepada k. 137 RFC, alasan yang sama yang diberikan oleh mahkamah ini di dalam Abdul Ghaffar Mohd Amin v. Ibrahim Yusoff & Anor semasa mengupas sama ada k. 137 RFC mengizinkan rayuan yang tidak dibenarkan oleh statut, terpakai. Tiada alasan sah untuk membeza-bezakan satu rayuan dengan satu “rujukan”.

(2) Berhubung kes Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock (supra), adalah tidak kena pada tempatnya untuk menggunapakai CLA yang berkaitan dengan undang-undang sivil di dalam satu kes jenayah. Taakulan di dalam kes tersebut adalah cacat dan tidak boleh diambilkira bagi menyokong permohonan di sini.

Case(s) referred to:
Abdul Ghaffar Mohd Amin v. Ibrahim Yusoff & Anor [2008] 5 CLJ 1 FC (foll)
Attorney General v. Sillem [1864] 11 ER 1200 (refd)
Auto Dunia Sdn Bhd v. Wong Sai Fatt & Ors [1995] 3 CLJ 485 FC (refd)
Barraaclough v. Brown [1897] AC 615 (refd)
Colonial Sugar Refining Ltd v. Irving [1905] AC 369 (refd)
Dato’ Mohamed Hashim Shamsuddin v. The Attorney General, Hong Kong [1986] 1 CLJ 377; [1986] CLJ (Rep) 89 SC (refd)
In re Harbhajan Singh Sodhi AIR (29) 1942 Nagpur 38 (refd)
Lee Cheng Yee v. Tiu Soon Siang & Anor [2004] 1 CLJ 1 CA (refd)
Kuan Hip Peng v. Yap Yin & Anor [1964] 1 LNS 69 FC (refd)
PP v. Hoo Chang Chwen [1962] 1 LNS 123 HC (refd)
PP v. RK Menon & Anor [1977] 1 LNS 101 HC (refd)
R v. The Lachiran ILR 28 Bom 533 (refd)
R Rama Chandran v. Industrial Court of Malaysia & Anor [1997] 1 CLJ 147 FC (refd)
Re Soo Leot [1955] 1 LNS 127 HC (refd)
Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP [2007] 1 CLJ 565 FC (not foll)

Legislation referred to:
Civil Law Act 1956, ss. 3(1), 7(5), 26, 27, 28, 28A
Courts of Judicature Act 1964, ss. 16, 17, 50(1), 67, 87(1), 96(a), (b)
Criminal Procedure Code, s. 323
Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966, s. 16Z
Industrial Relations Act 1967, s. 33A
Penal Code, s. 409
Rules of the High Court 1980, O. 18 r. 18
Rules of the Federal Court 1995, rr. 2, 137
Subordinate Courts Rules 1980, O. 14 r. 14
Criminal Procedure Code 1898 [Ind], s. 439
Criminal Procedure Code 1973 [Ind], s. 397(2)

Other source(s) referred to:
GC Thornton, Legislative Drafting , 4th edn 1996, p 87

Counsel:
For the applicant – RJ Manecksha (V Natnavathy with him); M/s Matthew Thomas & Co
For the respondents – Cyrus Dass (AC Vohrah with him); M/s Vohrah & Tan Chee Lan

Reported by Suresh Nathan

Case History:
Court Of Appeal: [2006] 3 CLJ 556

JUDGMENT

Abdul Hamid Mohamad CJ:

[1] Like Application No. 08-149-2007(P) (Abdul Ghaffar bin Mohd. Amin v. Ibrahim b. Yusoff & Anor), this application was also heard on 28 January 2008. We dismissed it. These are my grounds.

[2] The first and second respondents are the parents of the deceased who died in a road accident on 11 December 1993. They brought a claim for bereavement and funeral expenses under s. 7 of the Civil Law Act 1956 (CLA 1956) in the Sessions Court at Seremban, on 6 December 1977, that is, 11 months and 23 days after the expiry of the limitation period under s. 7(5) of the Act. The case proceeded on two issues only ie, on liability and on the issue of limitation. The Sessions Court gave judgment for the respondents. The applicant appealed to the High Court. The High Court allowed the appeal. The High Court held that as the claim was under s. 7 of the CLA 1956 wherein there was a specific provision in that Act as regards limitation under s. 7(5) and as the provision was absolute with no exception, it need not be pleaded in the statement of defence.

[3] The respondents appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. The reason given by the Court of Appeal may be summarized as follows:
(a) The issue of limitation must be pleaded in the statement of defence for cases under s. 7 of the CLA 1956 and s. 7(5) does not provide an absolute bar for cases filed after the expiry of limitation.
(b) The Court of Appeal case of Lee Cheng Yee v. Tiu Soon Siang & Anor [2004] 1 CLJ 1 670 was per incuriam as it failed to consider O. 14 r. 14 of the Subordinate Courts Rules 1980 (SCR 1980) and O. 18 r. 18 of the Rules of the High Court 1980 (RHC 1980) and therefore did not bind the court which had coordinate jurisdiction.
(c) The Federal Court decision of Kuan Hip Peng v. Yap Yin & Anor [1964] 1 LNS 69 is not an authority that decided that the limitation under s. 7(5) CLA 1956 need not be pleaded in a statement of defence as in that case there was an application to strike out.
(d) The applicant used limitation as an ‘ambush tactic’ as it was only raised at submissions stage.

[4] The applicants applied for leave to appeal to this court (the first application). The questions posed were:
(a) Considering that Section 7(5) of the Civil Law Act, 1965, is absolute in nature and contains no exceptions, does it therefore not follow that the provisions of the Limitation Act, 1953, will not apply in circumstances when the said Section 7(5) applies. And therefore as Section 7(5) is a statutory bar and absolute in nature, a party relying upon it need not, by the law of procedure, specifically plead it?
(b) Is Section 7(5) Civil Law Act 1956 substantive law or procedural requirement that has to be pleaded?
(c) Was the Court of Appeal correct in its decision that the decision of the earlier Court of Appeal in Lee Cheng Yee (suing as administrator of the estate of Chia Miew Hien) v. Tiu Soon Siang t/a Tiyo Soon Tiok & Soons Company & Anor [2004] 1 CLJ 1; [2004] 1 MLJ 670 wherein the facts in that case is on all fours with this case was per incuriam ?

[5] When the first application was heard by this court, learned counsel for the respondents raised a preliminary objection that the application for leave was defective as the suit had originated in the Sessions Court. This court dismissed the application. The applicants then filed this application (the second application) praying for leave to appeal to this court “or alternatively to refer the issues hereunder set out to the Federal Court under its inherent jurisdiction as provided under r. 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 on a point of law.”

[6] As regards the prayer that leave to appeal be given under r. 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 (RFC 1995), I have covered the issue in Abdul Ghaffar bin Mohd. Amin v. Ibrahim bin Yusoff & Anor, Federal Court Application No. 08-151-2007(N) and I need say no more. My response on the reasons given as to why the appeal should be allowed equally apply here.

[7] However, there is an alternative prayer here ie, to refer the issues to this court under r. 137 of the RFC 1995. Reliance is placed on the judgment of this court in Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP [2007] 1 CLJ 565.

[8] Before going any further I would like to state that this judgment focuses only on the issue whether issues arising from a case that commences in the Sessions Court which is not appealable to this court may be “referred” to this court for its decision. This judgment is not concerned with a review by this court of its own judgment. So, cases on review by this court of its own judgment will not be considered, neither is the issue decided here.

[9] Jurisdiction of this court is given by law ie, the Constitution and statute. The law provides that an appeal from a decision of the Sessions Court ends at the Court of Appeal. There is no provision anywhere in our law (putting aside r. 137 of the time being) that allows such an appeal to this court. I have reaffirmed the position in Abdul Ghaffar bin Mohd. Amin (supra).

[10] Since there is no appeal to this court, does r. 137 of the RFC 1995 allow issues of law to be “referred” to this court? With respect, I do not think so. To allow it to be done is like accepting with the left hand what the right hand rejects. After all, even appeals to this court are only on “points of law”, to use a general phrase to cover the provisions of s. 96 of the CJA 1964. When a matter ends in the Court of Appeal, it ends there, the whole of it. There has to be a provision in the law for this court to have jurisdiction to have such issues of law referred to it. We see, for example, in the Industrial Relations Act 1967 a provision that allows the Industrial Court to refer a question of law to the High Court for its determination – s. 33A. See also s. 16Z Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966.

[11] Going back to r. 137 of the RFC 1995, in my judgment, the same reasons that I have given in Abdul Ghaffar bin Md. Amin (supra) in discussing whether r. 137 of the RFC 1995 permits an appeal not permitted by statute equally apply here. There is no valid reason for a distinction to be made in respect of appeal and a “reference”.

[12] Regarding Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock (supra) the passages from that judgment that I have quoted in Abdul Ghaffar bin Md. Amin (supra) speak for themselves, supporting the same conclusion.

[13] It is true that in Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock (supra) this court allowed the application of the applicant for this court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to review the decision of the Court of Appeal even though the case commenced in the Sessions Court.

[14] With respect, I have great difficulty in following the reasoning of Augustine Paul FCJ. Having said what I have quoted in Abdul Ghaffar bin Md. Amin (supra), the judgment went on to say:

[17] The corollary is that r. 137 comes within the scope of s. 16(a) and is therefore lawful. It must be added that even if it can be argued that r. 137 does not conform with the requirements of s. 16(a) it makes no difference as r. 137 merely preserves what had been brought into force by s. 3(1)(a).

[15] I have no problem with the first sentence. However, if it were otherwise, as I had said in Abdul Ghaffar bin Mohd. Amin (supra), it would be ultra viress. 16 of the CJA. But, with respect, I am unable to agree with the view expressed in the second sentence. CLA 1956 concerns civil law, not criminal law. The title of the Act says so. The preamble also provides:
An Act relating to the civil law to be administered in Malaysia.

[16] By looking at the title of the chapters alone we will find the following:
Part I – Preliminary
Part II – General
Part III – Fatal Accidents and Survival of Causes of Action
Part IV – Tortfeasors and Award of Interest
Part V – Contributory Negligence and Common Employment
Part VI – Frustrated Contracts
Part VIA – Apportionment
Part VII – Disposal and Devolution of Property
Part VIII – Miscellaneous
Under “Miscellaneous” there are sections on agreement by way of gaming or wagering to be null and void (s. 26); Infants (s. 27); No person chargeable with rent bone fide paid to holder under defective title (s. 28); Damages in respect of personal injury (s. 28A). For details please refer to the Act.

[17] Those are matters covered by the Act, and they are matters of civil law. Common law of England and the rules of equity made applicable by the Act are those concerning civil law not provided by the Act or any other written law. Once it is provided by our written law, the English common law and the rules of equity are excluded. To read that the English common law exists side by side with a law provided by statute, whether originated from the principles of the English common law or not, is to blatantly disregard the very clear opening words of s. 3(1) of the CLA 1956. That cannot be right.

[18] That is in respect of civil law which to a large extent, is not codified. Criminal law, even criminal jurisdiction, has no place in the CLA 1956. It is completely outside the scope of the Act. For example, can a person be charged in Malaysia for a common law offence not codified by Malaysian law? The answer is certainly “No”.

[19] So, it is misplaced to apply the CLA 1956 relating to civil law in a criminal case. The reasoning in Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock (supra) is flawed and that case cannot be resorted to in support of this application.

[20] Of course, this is a civil matter. Even then, we should look closely at the opening words of s. 3(1):
3(1) Save so far as other provision has been made or may hereafter be made by any written law in force in Malaysia, the court shall –
(a) in West Malaysia or any part thereof apply the common law of England and the rules of equity as administered in England on the 7th day of April 1956;

[21] Law has been made that a case that begins in the Sessions Court is appealable only right up to the Court of Appeal. Even though the provision is as regards appeals, what it means is that it is intended to end there. Otherwise, it would not have said so. An appeal always includes an appeal on points of law. Had Parliament intended that “points of law” from such cases, though not appealable, may be “referred” to this court, it would have done so, but those “points of law” have been shut out from the door of this court by statute when it prohibits the appeals.

[22] Further, we were not shown what the common law of England was on the point, whether as on 7 April 1956 or thereafter. We were only told that the applicant was relying on Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock ‘s case (supra). Even if there was, we were not told what were the relevant statutory provisions in England that led the courts in that country to hold as such and whether the provisions of the written law in England the same as ours, bearing in mind that England does not even have a written constitution. Citing passages from judgments in England alone (even that was not done) is not sufficient. Those views may be expressed in view of the statutory provisions in England, which may be different from those in Malaysia. Regarding reliance on Indian judgments based on the Indian Code of Civil Procedure, I would repeat what I have said in Abdul Ghaffar bin Mohd. Amin (supra) that it is dangerous to simply follow the views expressed by Indian judges on this issue as the Indian Civil Procedure is an Act of Parliament, unlike our RFC 1995 which is a subsidiary legislation. A rule is a rule. It cannot be elevated by the court to the status of an Act of Parliament or the Constitution.

[23] Going back to Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock ‘s case, if we read the judgment of Richard Malanjum CJ (S & S), even though his conclusion was the same as that of Augustine Paul FCJ, his approach was totally different. The other three judges, including the Chief Justice did not express any opinion. Indeed, going by the report in the CLJ they did not even say that they agreed with either Augustine Paul FCJ and/or Richard Malanjum CJ (S & S) neither did Augustine Paul FCJ nor Richard Malanjum CJ (S & S) say that they (the other three members of the Bench) agreed with either or both of them. However, I take it they agreed with both Richard Malanjum CJ (S & S) and Augustine Paul FCJ.

[24] Referring to the judgment of Augustine Paul FCJ, Richard Malanjum CJ (S & S) said: “On the issues discussed therein I am in agreement with his conclusions.” Then he went on to say “that there is another aspect in the submission of learned counsel for the applicant which should be considered. The gist of his submission is that in exercising his revisionery power the High Court Judge was not exercising his original jurisdiction within the meaning of s. 87 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (the CJA)”. After discussing the law, the learned CJ (S & S) concluded:
My answer therefore to the primary question is that an exercise of revisionary power by the High Court is not an exercise of an original jurisdiction so as to bring it within the ambit of s. 87 of the CJA.

[25] Perhaps, it should be clarified here that, Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock ‘s case (supra) commenced in the Sessions Court. He was charged with an offence under s. 409 of the Penal Code together with an alternative charge under the same section. During the trial, the learned Sessions Court Judge ruled that the evidence of six witnesses recorded in Hong Kong was inadmissible. The prosecution requested the High Court to revise the ruling made by the learned Sessions Court Judge. The High Court exercised its power of revision and ordered that the record of proceedings be admitted in evidence.

[26] So, what is the effect of the judgment of Richard Malanjum CJ (S & S)? Bearing in mind that s. 87(1) of the CJA 1964 only allows appeal to the Federal Court from “any decision of the Court of Appeal in its appellate jurisdiction in respect of any criminal matter decided by the High Court in its original jurisdiction” and as the exercise of a revisionary power by the High Court is not an exercise of an original jurisdiction, so, there is no appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Federal Court.

[27] That is all that the judgment of the learned CJ (SS) said. The judgment says nothing on the issue whether r. 137 of the RFC 1995 empowers this court to allow a reference on points of law to be made to this court in a case arising from the Sessions Court.

[28] It is for these reasons that I dismissed the instant application with costs and ordered that the deposit be paid to the respondents on account of taxed costs.
Zaki Tun Azmi PCA:

[29] I have read through the judgments of my learned Chief Justice and my learned brother Arifin and agree with their conclusions and their reasons for arriving at those conclusions. However, permit me to add some further reasons as to why this application should be dismissed.

[30] The application is made pursuant to r. 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court. Reading that rule, it is clear that with the use of the words “For the removal of doubts” it is merely a reminder of the powers that are inherent in the court. That rule does not confer any extra powers.

[31] The applicant sought to invoke r. 137 to indirectly bring from the Court of Appeal, this case which originated in the Sessions Court. The applicant relied on Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP [2007] 1 CLJ 565 (hereinafter referred to as “Eric Chia ‘s case”) to support his argument.

[32] I do not think that r. 137 being a subsidiary legislation could be read to override s. 96(a) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (all sections referred to in this judgment, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, refer to sections of the Courts of Judicature Act). That section is clearly worded to allow the Federal Court to grant leave to appeal from any judgment or order of the Court of Appeal in respect of which the civil cause or matter has been decided by the High Court in exercise of its original jurisdiction. Section 96(b) is not relevant to the issue before us.

[33]Section 67 empowers the Court of Appeal to hear appeals from any judgment or order of any High Court in any civil matter whether made in the exercise of its original or of its appellate jurisdiction. Reading the two sections together, it is clear that for a civil cause or matter that originates in the subordinate court, the Court of Appeal is the apex court.

[34]Section 87 relates to the Federal Court’s jurisdiction to hear and determine criminal appeals. This section allows appeals of any criminal matter decided by the High Court in its original jurisdiction only. It does not provide for appeals in criminal matters originating in the subordinate courts.

[35] According to s. 50(1), criminal cases decided by the Sessions Court may be appealed up to the Court of Appeal while those made by the Magistrate is also appealable up to the Court of Appeal but only with leave of the Court of Appeal. Section 50 read with s. 87 means that, criminal matters originating in the Sessions Court and the Magistrate Court must end at the Court of Appeal. The restrictions of appeal from the High Court to the Court of Appeal regarding decisions of the High Court in an appeal from the subordinate court must equally apply to a decision of the High Court made in regard to a revision.

[36] I do not read r. 137 as meaning to provide another avenue to bring a case originating in the subordinate court to the Federal Court. On an important matter as right of appeal those sections being provisions passed by Parliament, cannot now be read as being subject to a procedural r. 137 made by the Rules Committee. A right of appeal is a substantive right, not a procedural right. (See Colonial Sugar Refining Ltd v. Irving [1905] AC 369 Privy Council)

[37] It is also elementary that appeal is a creature of statute and the right of appeal is only as provided by statute. (See Auto Dunia Sdn Bhd v. Wong Sai Fatt & Ors. [1995] 3 CLJ 485.)

[38] If there was such an intention to allow criminal appeals up to the Federal Court then it would have been so expressly provided for in an Act of Parliament.

[39] As also discussed by my learned brother Arifin Zakaria FCJ, in his grounds (and supported by the authorities cited by him), ss. 16 and 17 read together are only to regulate practice and procedure to be followed by the Federal Court. It is not meant for the Rules Committee to provide for substantive rights. In fact, Augustine Paul in his judgment in Eric Chia ‘s case did specifically mention that r. 137 is only procedural in nature. (See p. 588 para c)

[40] In regard to Eric Chia ‘s case which is a criminal case, I am of the opinion, consistent with the views of my learned Chief Justice and Dato’ Arifin, that it should not have been allowed to come to the Federal Court.

[41] In that case, the decision related to the question whether the prosecution should be allowed to adduce statements of witnesses recorded by a court in Hong Kong. It is therefore only an interlocutory ruling made by the Sessions Court. It was taken up to the High Court by way of a revision, which decision was appealed against to the Court of Appeal and subsequently reviewed by the Federal Court pursuant to r. 137. The rule reads:
For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that nothing in these Rules shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the Court to hear any application or to make any order as may be necessary to prevent injustice or to prevent an abuse of the process of the Court. (emphasis added)

[42] It is to be noted that the word “court” mentioned in the context of “to prevent an abuse of the process of the court”, is spelt with a capital ‘C’. The Rules define the word “court” (also with capital ‘C’) to mean the Federal Court and includes a judge of that court. In Eric Chia ‘s case, Augustine Paul J while discussing r. 137 held that “the language of r. 137 itself is not restrictive so as to limit its application to only reviewing decisions of the Federal Court”. In analyzing that word at p. 591 of the case he spelt the word court with small ‘c’. In my opinion, the word “the court”, by the use of capital ‘C’ and the definition given to that word in the Rules must mean the Federal Court. G.C. Thornton in his book Legislative Drafting, 4th edn 1996, (a book which is all too familiar to any legal draftsmen) said at p. 87 regarding the use of capital letters:
The use of capitals should be consistent. If a word is printed so that it begins both with and without a capital in the same statute, it is possible that an inference may be drawn that the word is used in two different senses, or perhaps that two distinct persons are referred to.

[43] In other words, r. 137 is intended to be a reminder that the Federal Court has the power to hear any application or make any order as may be necessary to prevent injustice or to prevent an abuse of the process of the “Federal Court”. It is not intended to enable the Federal Court to review decisions of any other court. If there is injustice or abuse of the process of any court then it could be corrected by way of an appeal but only to the extent allowed by the Federal Constitution and the Courts of Judicature Act 1964. Since as discussed above, cases originating in the Sessions Court must end at the Court of Appeal, then any injustice or abuse of the process of the court could only be corrected by that court as an apex court. Otherwise the limitation of appeals intended by Parliament will never be achieved. This is another reason to support my arguments above.

[44] For reasons given in the grounds of judgment of my learned Chief Justice and Arifin Zakaria FCJ and the reasons given above, the decision of the Federal Court in that case on this issue cannot therefore be right.

[45] I therefore conclude that Eric Chia ‘s case cannot be relied upon to support this application.
Arifin Zakaria FCJ:

[46] I agree with the learned CJ that this application ought to be dismissed for the reasons given by him. In this regard I am of the opinion that it is necessarily for us to consider the purpose and scope of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 (RFC). This is found in s. 16 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (CJA). Briefly it provides that the purpose for which rules may be made by the Rules Committee appointed under s. 17 CJA is for regulating the practice and procedure to be followed by the Federal Court in all causes and matters whatsoever in or with respect to which the Federal Court has for the time being jurisdiction. The RFC of course have the force of law as they are made pursuant to a power conferred by a statute. But as a subsidiary legislation it cannot exceed the powers conferred by the statute pursuant to which it is made, therefore, it cannot purports to confer new jurisdiction where none existed before or enlarge the jurisdiction, or create or alter substantive rights. (See dissenting judgment of Seah SCJ in Dato’ Mohamed Hashim Shamsuddin v. The Attorney General, Hong Kong [1986] 1 CLJ 377; [1986] CLJ (Rep) 89 quoting Lord Davey in Barraaclough v. Brown [1897] AC 615). In Attorney General v. Sillem [1864] 11 ER 1200 also quoted by Seah SCJ Lord Wrenbury LC said at p. 1208:
A power to regulate the practice of a court does not involve or imply any power to alter the extent or nature of the jurisdiction.
Similarly in Dato’ Mohamed Hashim Shamsuddin (supra) Abdoolkader SCJ in relation to s. 16 CJA expressed the view that:
This legislative provision clearly relates to a matter of practice and procedure with no question arising of creating or altering substantive rights or of any rules made pursuant thereto purporting per se to confer jurisdiction where none existed otherwise, and it is this specific enactment in the 1964 Act that enables the necessary rules to be spelt out to regulate the procedure for the purposes specified therein.
(See also R. Rama Chandran v. Industrial Court of Malaysia & Anor [1997] 1 CLJ 147, on the powers of the Rules Committee.)

[47] Therefore, it will be ultra vires the powers of the Rules Committee to attempt to confer on the Federal Court the power to deal with a matter which is outside its jurisdiction. The rule must strictly be confined to procedural matter only.

[48] It is in the light of the above considerations that r. 137 ought to be construed. The said Rule provides:
137. For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that nothing in these Rules shall be deemed to limit or effect the inherent powers of the court to hear any application or to make any order as may be necessary to prevent injustice or to prevent an abuse of the process of the Court.

[49] The rule merely declares “… that nothing in these Rules shall be deemed to limit or alter the inherent powers of the court…”.

[50] The word “court” here is defined as the Federal Court (r. 2). Thus the rule does not confer an inherent power, it merely declares that the court has such a power. For the present purpose, I will not go into the issue whether there exist such an inherent power as declared by r. 137.

[51]Rule 137 merely stipulates that no provision of the RFC should be construed as to limit or affect the inherent powers of the court namely – (a) to prevent injustice or (b) to prevent an abuse of the process of the court. In my opinion it is abundantly clear that r. 137 is directed at the provisions of the RFC. It could not have been intended to override the provision of the Federal Constitution or any other written law. Therefore, when s. 96(a) of the CJA limit the right of appeal to this court in civil cause or matter in respect of such cause or matter decided by the High Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction only then r. 137 cannot be resorted to overcome that bar. Similarly the rule should be not used to override the provision of s. 87 of the CJA which limit the right of appeal in criminal cases to those cases which originate from the High Court.

[52] How do we then reconcile the decision of this court in Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock v. PP [2007] 1 CLJ 565 with what I have stated above.

[53] The answer to this is found in the judgment of the learned CJ in this present case. After considering the judgments of both Augustine Paul, FCJ and Richard Malanjum, CJ (S & S), I agree with the learned CJ that the judgments were flawed. Quite apart from what I stated above, I agree entirely with the reasons given by the learned CJ.

[54] I must add that at the highest the matter should have ended at the Court of Appeal, as the learned High Court Judge in that case was exercising his revisionary power. As rightly stated by Richard Malanjum, CJ (S & S) the exercise of revisionary power by the High Court Judge is not in law an exercise of his original jurisdiction. Therefore, on that ground the matter could not have proceeded by way of appeal to the Federal Court. Similarly it could not come to this court by way of a review under r. 137.

[55] Bearing in mind that the matter under challenged was the exercise of a revisionary power under s. 323 of Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) all the more reasons the Federal Court ought not to have entertained the application.

[56] On the revisionary power of the High Court it is correct that this power of the High Court is exercisable at the discretion of the court and the discretion is untrammelled and free, so as to be exercised fairly according to the exigencies of each case. (See R v. The Lachiran ILR 28 Bom. 533, followed in Re Soo Leot [1955] 1 LNS 127).

[57] However, in a pending case, as in the case of Tan Sri Eric Chia, the court should only interfere in rare and exceptional cases where such interference is required in the interests of justice. In a pending case no question as to the correctness or propriety of a finding can arise; consequently the High Court can examine the proceedings of subordinate court only to satisfy itself as to their regularity. (See In re Harbhajan Singh Sodhi AIR (29) 1942 Nagpur 38; this is a decision based on s. 439 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 which is materially similar to our s. 323 of the CPC). By s. 397(2) of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 it expressly provides that the revisionary powers shall not be exercised in relation to any interlocutory order.

[58] In my view, in Tan Sri Eric Chia ‘s case, even the High Court ought not to have interfered in the proceeding pending before the Sessions Court by calling for a revision. What more in the case of the Federal Court. In a matter such as this, since the decision on the admissibility of evidence was made in a pending case the proper course is to allow the case to proceed to its end and for the issue to be canvassed during the appeal stage.

[59] To allow a revision of the decision made by the Subordinate Court in a pending matter as in Tan Sri Eric Chia ‘s case could lead to delay in the disposal of cases in the Subordinate Courts.

[60] In PP v. R.K. Menon & Anor [1977] 1 LNS 101 Ajaib Singh (J) as he then was held that there is no right of appeal against a procedural ruling made by a Subordinate Court. He cited in support Rose CJ in Public Prosecutor v. Hoo Chang Chwen [1962] 1 LNS 123 where His Lordship observed:
What in effect the learned Magistrate would have to decide in either example is whether the statements in question are admissible in evidence. If he decides that they are not, he rules accordingly; if he decides that they are, he also rules accordingly. And this is, in effect, what he has done in the present matter.
Such a ruling is, in my opinion, not an appealable order. The fact that the Magistrate has gone on to say that copies should be supplied to the defence counsel does not seem to me to affect the position, as in any event, quite apart from any such order from the learned Magistrate, once the statements were produced in evidence in pursuance of a direction under section 116(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, they would of course become known and available to the defence.
I would add that to arrive at any other conclusion would seem to me to open the door to a number of appeals in the course of criminal trials on points which are in their essence procedural. The proper time, of course, to take such points would be upon appeal, after determination of the principal matter in the trial court.

[61] I am of the opinion that, no logical distinction could be drawn between an appeal and a revision. The above quoted observation equally applies to the exercise of revisionary power.

[62] For the above reasons, I agree with the learned CJ that the decision in Tan Sri Eric Chia ‘s case cannot be relied upon in support of this application.

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