Dec 31, 2015

Important court decisions in 2015


PETALING JAYA: Significant decisions were noted in various cases before the courts in 2015. Sedition charges also dominated media coverage this year.

Here are some of the most important cases:

Herald case

Jan 21: Catholic weekly loses its final bid to convince the Federal Court to review its decision to refuse the publisher leave to challenge the Home Ministry over the ban on its use of the word “Allah”.

Sodomy II

Feb 10: The Federal Court upholds Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction and his five-year jail term set by a Court of Appeal for sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in June 2008.

Altantuya murder

Feb 13: The Federal Court convicts former Special Action Unit personnel C/Insp Azilah Hadri, 38, and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar, 43, for the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. The two men were sentenced to death.

The Federal Court also issued a warrant of arrest against Sirul Azhar for failing to turn up for the judgment of the appeal against the 2013 Court of Appeal acquittal.

The ruling clears the way for Altantuya’s family to proceed with a RM100mil suit at a Shah Alam High Court against the Government and three others over claims of alleged conspiracy and wrongful killing.

Issues pertaining to Perkasa

May 11: Prominent columnist and moderate Malaysian Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai succeeds in his application to strike out a libel suit by Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali.

May 18: Ibrahim Ali is ordered to pay RM50,000 in costs to The Sun newspaper after he failed to prove that he had been defamed.

A. Kugan case

Aug 3: The Federal Court grants leave to the Government to appeal against the award given to the family of suspected car thief A. Kugan, who died while in police custody six years earlier.

A High Court had on June 2013 awarded Kugan’s family RM801,700 in damages after finding the police and the Government liable for his death. In a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal on Aug 8 ruled that a public independent inquiry must follow cases of custodial death.

Syariah lawyer issue

Aug 13: The Federal Court reserves judgment over whether a non-Muslim is allowed to practise as a Syariah lawyer. The Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council and the Attorney-General’s Chambers contend that only Muslims can practise Syariah law as Syariah courts had no jurisdiction over non-Muslims should they display any professional misconduct during proceedings.

On March 17, 2011, lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin, who has a Masters degree in Comparative Law from the International Islamic University, lost her bid at the High Court to challenge the assertion that a Syariah lawyer in Kuala Lumpur must be a Muslim.

On June 21, 2013, the then Court of Appeal judge Justice Abu Samah Nordin, leading a three-member Bench, reversed the ruling, saying the law governing the appointment of Syariah lawyers did not specify that applicants should be Muslims.

The Edge’s suspension

Sept 21: A High Court quashes the Home Ministry’s decision to suspend two publications – The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly – belonging to The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd for three months. 

Khir Toyo judgment 

Sept 29: The Federal Court upholds the one-year jail term of former Selangor Mentri Besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo for using his position to obtain two plots of land and a bungalow unit in Shah Alam. The apex court dismissed his appeal for community service in the form of free dental treatment to the poor in lieu of a jail term.

Peaceful Assembly Act

Oct 1: The Court of Appeal rules that Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 is constitutional.

It departs from another Court of Appeal decision which declared Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 – which criminalises the failure to give a 10-day notice to the police before a rally – to be unconstitutional.

Anti-Cross Dressing law 

Oct 8: The Federal Court throws out three transgenders’ bid to declare an anti-cross dressing law unconstitutional.

Hudud

Oct 20: The Federal Court throws out the case of three Kelantan Gerakan members who disputed the legality of PAS’ hudud law, saying they did not state that they are Muslims. Federal Court judge Justice Zaharah Ibrahim, who sat alone, denied leave for applicants Tuan Mat Tuan Wil, Soh Hoon Lee and Chung Mon Sie because they did not show that they would be affected by the law.

Sedition Act

Feb 5: Human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen pleads not guilty to publishing seditious words via his Twitter account.

Nov 13: Activist Lawrence Jayaraj Edwin Jones claims trial to posting a seditious comment via his Facebook account.

Oct: Law lecturer Associate Prof Dr Azmi Sharom fails in his bid at the Federal Court to have the Sedition Act 1948 declared unconstitutional.

Oct 20: Subang MP R. Sivarasa claims trial to uttering seditious words at the #KitaLawan rally on March 7.

Nov 20: The Attorney-General withdraws a sedition charge against Seputeh MP Teresa Kok for allegedly publishing a seditious video on YouTube.

Nov 23: Parti Sosialis Malaysia leader S. Arutchelvan is charged with allegedly criticising the judiciary.

Sosma

Nov 18: In a landmark judgment, a High Court rules that ex-Umno leader Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Matthias Chang cannot be charged under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 for attempting to sabotage the banking and financial services.

NFCorp

Nov 24: A Sessions Court acquits National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) executive chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail of two criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges involving RM49.7mil, following a representation bid to the Attorney-General’s Chambers over the matter.

Offensive Remarks

Dec 4: Former Cabinet minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim claims trial in a Sessions Court to making offensive remarks in urging Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to step down from office.

Zaid was accused of having committed an offence under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. His case is fixed for case management on Jan 22.

Sosilawati murder

Dec 4: The Court of Appeal upholds the conviction of four men found guilty in the murders of cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three others. The appellate court later ruled that the Shah Alam High Court’s findings in the high-profile murder trial were “safe” and affirmed the convictions and death sentences of former lawyer N. Pathmanabhan and three farm workers.

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