Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jill Ireland won’t get her religious CDs, yet

10:53AM Jan 22, 2015
By Hafiz Yatim
With tension from the loss of the Catholic Church Archbishop's appeal on the Allah issue before the Federal Court yesterday yet to cool, the High Court today allowed a stay application against the return of Christian religious CDs belonging to Melanau clerk Jill Ireland.
This comes in the way of the decision of Justice Asmabi Mohamad in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur this morning to allow the application for the stay filed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The judge made the decision made in her chambers.

Lawyer Annou Xavier (left) informed reporters about the decision and said Justice Asmabi gave no reason for her order.

Senior federal counsel Andi Razalijaya A Dadi affirmed the court decision and said the stay application was to prevent the whole appeal from becoming academic.

The appeal by Jill Ireland and the Home Ministry's appeal against the whole decision is set for hearing before the Court of Appeal on Feb 10.

High Court judge Zaleha Yusof on July 21, 2014, ordered the return of the eight CDs that the Customs Department seized from Jill at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang in May 2008. Jill had then brought the CDs in friom Indonesia.

Justice Zaleha ruled that the senior Customs officer in charge, Suzana Muin, who issued the seizure order, had acted illegally in withholding the CDs as such powers lie with the home minister.

A day after the decision, the home minister and government, who are the respondents in the case, filed their notice of appeal and held back the CDs.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi submitted an affidavit in support of the stay application against return of the CDs, .

The Home Ministry cited special circumstances in not abiding by the High Court order as a result of the appeal and pending the matter to be disposed of. There were also reasons given by the home minister in not returning the CDs.

Appeal and cross-appeal

While the Home Ministry and government are appealing the order to return the CDs, Annou said Jill had also filed a cross-appeal on the constitutional issues with regard to the usage of the word `Allah'.

This was filed because Justice Zaleha, despite ordering the CDs to be returned, had refused to rule on Articles 8 and 11 of the Federal Constitution that the Melanau clerk had sought.

Article 8 concerns equality under the law, where a subsection states  there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law.

Article 11 concerns Freedom of Religion, the right to profess the religion of one's choice and the use of Allah to denote God.

The CDs were seized as they were considered prohibited items, that they concerned public order and breached the guidelines of the Islamic Advancement Department (Jakim).

The eight CDs are titled 'Cara menggunakan kunci kerajaan Allah', 'Cara hidup dalam kerajaan Allah', 'Ibadah yang benar dalam kerajaan Allah', 'Metode Pemuridan Kerajaan Allah', 'Pribadi yang bertumbuh dalam kerajaan Allah', 'Hidup Benar dalam kerajaan Allah',' Pemerintahan Kerajaan Allah Dalam Hidup' and 'Rahasia Kerajaan Allah'.

The cabinet and Jakim had issued a prohibition in 1986 that religions other than Islam are not allowed to use the word `Allah' in 1986.

However, the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak has been using the word `Allah' in their daily worship.

Jill sought the certiorari to quash the home minister's decision to seize the eight CDs, and an order of mandamus (to compel) the home minister to return them.

Yesterday, the Federal Court's five-member bench dismissed the Roman Catholic Church's application to review the ban on its use of the word `Allah' in its Bahasa Malaysia publication of its weekly journal, Herald.

The court's five-member bench headed by Federal Court judge Abdull Hamid Embong found no procedural unfairness in the earlier decision of the same court, made by a seven-member bench led by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, which did not grant the church's application for leave to appeal the ban on the use of the term Allah by the Herald.
~ Malaysiakini

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