Appeals Court upholds lifting of ban on book
Posted on July 28, 2012, Saturday
PUTRAJAYA: The Appeals Court here yesterday upheld a High Court decision to lift a home ministry ban of a book, entitled ‘Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism’ by Sisters in Islam (SIS) Forum (Malaysia).
Justice Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail, who chaired a three-member panel, held that the book was not prejudicial to public order.
“The former home minister’s satisfaction that the book was prejudicial to public order, in absence of any clear evidence of any prejudicial events occurring, was in outrageous defiance of logic, and falls squarely within the realm of unreasonableness and irrationality,” said Abdul Wahab.
He said High Court judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof confined himself properly to his duty in the judicial review brought by SIS Forum, and the judge was correct in finding objectively that the book was not prejudicial to public order.
In dismissing the appeal brought by former home minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar against the High Court’s decision to lift the ban on the book, Abdul Wahab said if the book was said to be against the Islamic Advancement Department’s (Jakim) guideline, that did not address the issue of whether the book was prejudicial to public order.
Abdul Wahab said it was the duty of the court to interfere if a decision maker misdirected himself in law or had taken into consideration, irrelevant facts or did not consider relevant facts.
He said the court must see if there was an abuse or misuse of administrative discretion, whether the discretion was used for a purpose it was given and whether it was fairly and justly exercised. The unanimous decision was made by the panel comprising Abdul Wahab, Court of Appeal judge Datuk Clement Allan Skinner and High Court judge Mah Weng Kwai.
However, the decision was pronounced by Abdul Wahab in the absence of Skinner who is away in Kota Kinabalu to attend another hearing there.
The court ordered Syed Hamid (i.e the government) to pay RM20,000 in legal costs.
Syed Hamid was named respondent in the judicial review application brought by SIS Forum which challenged his order.
The pronouncement of the decision was delayed for about three hours.
Before delivering his decision, Abdul Wahab apologised for the delay, saying he had to e-mail his judgment to Skinner who later, concurred with the decision.
The home ministry banned the book on July 31, 2008. SIS Forum filed a judicial review application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Dec 15, 2008, seeking a certiorari order to quash the order.
On Aug 26, 2009, SIS Forum was granted leave by the High Court to initiate the judicial review. — Bernama