Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Court orders return of 'Allah' CDs to owner

10:14AM Jun 23, 2015
By Hafiz Yatim
The Royal Customs Department and the Home Ministry were today ordered to return eight CDs containing the word 'Allah' to Jill Ireland.

Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, in reading out the Court of Appeal's judgment affirmed the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to return the CDs to Ireland.

"The court orders the release of the CD's within one month from today," she ruled.

She also ordered that the declaration sought by Ireland on the use of the term 'Allah' be heard again at the High Court.

The full written judgment was by Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim. The other judge of the three-person bench was Zakaria Sam. Shamsul Bolhassan (photo) appeared for the government.

Justice Tengku Maimun said the Customs Department acted ultra vires (beyond the law) ‎of Section 9 of the Publication of Printing Presses Act 1984.

"The order to seize the CD's was not envisaged by Parliament.

"The order was issued by the Customs Department's Suzanah Muin who was not empowered to make the order."

She also ruled that the allegations by Ireland that the use of the term 'Allah' violated her rights under Article 8 (Equality) and 11 (Freedom of Religion) be remitted back to the High Court before another judge.

The court then fixed July 7 for the case to be mentioned at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

Unconstituional seizure

On April 23, this year, the court reserved its decision after hearing submissions from Ireland’s counsel Lim Heng Seng, and the Home Ministry and government in their appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on July 21.

Ireland had cross-appealed the High Court’s decision to not grant the declaratory reliefs she had sought.

On May 11, 2008, the eights CDs bearing titles such as ‘Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah’, ‘Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah’ and ‘Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah’, were seized from Ireland upon her arrival at the Low Cost Carriers Terminal (LCCT) at Sepang.

She subsequently filed a judicial review application on Aug 20, 2008 seeking for the return of the CDs as well as declaratory reliefs.

At the appeal proceedings, Ireland’s counsel Lim Heng Seng (photo) submitted the Home Ministry’s action to seize the CDs was unconstitutional and had violated her right to freedom of religion guaranteed under the federal constitution.

Lee further submitted that Ireland should be free to practise her religion, including using the word ‘Allah’ in any part of Malaysia because the federal constitution had guaranteed that right.

However, the governmen countered that Ireland’s right to freedom of religion was not absolute but subjected to public order, public health and morality under Article 11(5) of the federal constitution.

[More to follow]
~ Malaysiakini

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