Monday, June 25, 2012

Borders allowed to challenge Jawi's seizure of controversial book

Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd has been allowed to challenge the raid and search on its Borders bookstore and seizure of Irshad Manji's controversial book from the store by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) last month.

High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Rohana Yusuf held Monday that the application for leave by Berjaya Books, which owns Borders Bookstore, has merits.

The judge made the order after hearing submissions by parties in chambers.

The judge has also dismissed an objection raised by the Attorney-General's Chambers against the application for leave.

Speaking to reporters later, Berjaya Books lead counsel Rosli Dahlan said the judge ruled that the application for leave was not premature and that the civil court has jurisdiction to hear the matter.


Senior federal counsel Nurul Farhana Khalid, from the A-G Chambers, said she raised an objection over the issue of jurisdiction and that the application was premature.

Justice Rohana has set Sept 5 to hear the judicial review application.

Borders assistant general manager (merchandising) Stephen Fung Wye Keong and its store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz are two others named as applicants.

They named Jawi, the Home Minister and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Islamic affairs) as respondents.

In the application for leave filed on June 18, Berjaya Books and two others applied for an order to quash the decision by Jawi officers in raiding, searching and seizing publications at their premise and examining their workers on May 23.

They sought to strike out the order to appear to give evidence under Section 58(1) of the Syariah Criminal Procedure Code (Federal Territories) 1997 against Fung and Nik Raina.

They want an order for Jawi to produce all records and documents over its actions to the court to be reviewed.

Among others, they have asked for a declaration that Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Federal Territories) 1997 and Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 was applicable to Muslims only.

They sought for a declaration that Jawi's action was invalid as its enforcement on May 23 was made before the Home Ministry issued any prohibitory order under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

They asked for Jawi not to proceed with any prosecution against Nik Raina until disposal of the judicial review application.

(On June 19, Nik Raina, 36, was charged at the Syariah High Court with distributing by way of selling the book entitled Allah, Liberty and Love, which was also translated into Bahasa Malaysia. Her case is set for mention on Sept 19.)

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