Friday, July 27, 2012

Judge: Ban on SIS book ‘outrageous’, ‘irrational’

The Court of Appeal today 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 whether or not the book was against the Islamic Advancement Department’s (Jakim) guideline, was irrelevant to 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 the 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 to ban the book.Read more.

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