Hornbill Unleashed

November 13, 2013

Catholic Church files for leave to appeal


The Catholic Church has filed an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court the decision of the Court of Appeal which had allowed the government’s appeal to ban its weekly publication The Herald from using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God.

Benjamin Dawson, one of the counsels representing the church, said they had filed the application at the Federal Court registry yesterday.

“The church has raised 26 questions of law in the leave application to appeal to the Federal Court,” he told Bernama when contacted today.

Dawson said the legal questions involve three areas namely constitutional questions, administrative issues and whether the court can decide on comparative religious issues.

He elaborated that the salient questions included on whether Islam, being the religion of the federation, would impinge the fundamental liberties in Part II of the federal constitution in particular the right to profess and practice the religion of those in the religious minority group.

Dawson said the other important constitutional question was whether the state could interfere with the rights of a religious group to manage its own affairs.

Another question, he said was whether the alleged confusion by a certain religious group was a ground to restrict the right to freedom of another religious group.

He said the question on administrative law centred on the home minister’s power namely whether the decision of the home minister on grounds of threat to national security and public order could be reviewed by the court.

The other question, he said, was whether the Court of Appeal could embark on an Internet research and come to certain conclusion on comparative religious issues.

Dawson said the Catholic Church would serve the leave application to the Attorney-General’s chambers on behalf of the home minister and government and various state religious bodies.

He (Dawson) said it was expected that a case management would be fixed and thereafter a hearing date to hear the church’s leave for the appeal application would be set.

On Oct 14, the Court of Appeal’s three-member panel led by Federal Court judge Mohamed Apandi Ali unanimously allowed the government’s appeal to ban The Herald from using the word ‘Allah’.

High Court decision set aside

The court had set aside the decision of a High Court in 2009 which had allowed the publication to use of the word ‘Allah’.

On Feb 16, 2010, the Roman Catholic church led by Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, filed a judicial review application naming the Home Ministry and the government as respondents, seeking, among others, a declaration that the Home Ministry’s decision to prohibit the use of the word ‘Allah’ in The Herald publication was illegal.

The weekly, published in four languages, has been using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to ‘God’ in The Herald’s Malay-language section, specially to cater for the people in Sabah and Sarawak.

On Dec 31, 2009, the High Court declared the decision by the Home Ministry prohibiting The Herald from using the word ‘Allah’ was illegal, null and void.

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