The Court of Appeal ruled today that the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) cannot intervene in a Sabah church’s lawsuit as it has no rights over non-Muslims.
However, in allowing the Sidang Injil Borneo’s (SIB) appeal to set aside a lower court’s order on its judicial review on seizure of certain religious books, the Court of Appeal said MAIWP could act as amicus curiae ( friend of the court) in SIB’s court proceedings.
The panel, led by Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, unanimously found that MAIWP had failed to show that it had a direct interest in the judicial review bid.
Other judges on the panel were Justices Zamani A Rahim and Zaleha Yusof.
Noting that the Attorney-General’s Chambers was already representing the Home Ministry and the Federal Government, which are being sued by SIB, Justice Hamid Sultan said the most important person in public interest litigation was the AG.
And since the AG was duly represented and vigilant, it was enough to protect the public interest, under the watchful eyes of judges who had taken the constitutional oath to defend and protect the Constitution.
“MAIWP has no rights over and owes no liabilities to the appellant or non-Muslims,” Justice Hamid Sultan said.
No order was made to cost.
Haniff Khatri Abdulla and Ilyani Noor Khuszainy represented MAIWP.
Lim Heng Seng and Bobby Chew were the church’s lawyers.
The High Court ruled on Feb 23 that MAIWP had a direct interest in the constitutional rights that SIB was seeking by way of reliefs.
SIB and its president Rev Jerry Dusing filed the judicial review on Dec 10, 2007, after three boxes of Malay-language Christian educational books that contained the word “Allah”, and that had been imported from Indonesia, were seized by the Customs Department at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang in August 2007. The books were returned to SIB in January 2008.
The Church is also seeking a declaration that it has the constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in religious publications and purposes.
The church obtained leave in October 2014 for its judicial review application to be heard.
However, the Kuala Lumpur High Court stayed proceedings until the disposal of today’s appeal. Case management is scheduled for October 10.
Ho Kit Yen@FMT Reporters Online