Church’s judicial review on ‘Allah’ becomes originating summons


KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has converted the judicial review application by Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) into an originating summons. The judicial review was on the seizure of its books with the term Allah.

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla, acting for the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Maiwp), disclosed this after meeting Justice Hanipah Farikullah in chambers on Thursday.

“The court is exercising its’ discretion to dispose the case in an efficient and expedient manner,” he said. “It has changed the mood of legal challenge into an originating summons.”

Haniff said so far there were no instructions from Maiwp whether it would appeal against an appeals court’s order on its status in the judicial review.

“As ‘amicus curiae’ (friend of the court), if the judge needs any assistance on an issue that has no materials before the court, we will be giving our expert opinion,” he said.

Justice Hanipah has fixed February 20 to 24 next year to hear the lawsuit.

“She also fixed November 29 for case management if parties involved file any documents or application to cross examine any affidavit,” said the lawyer.

Also present in court was Lim Heng Seng, the church’s lawyer, and senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan for the government.

SIB and President Rev Jerry Dusing had filed the judicial review on Dec 10, 2007. They named the Home Minister and the government as respondents.

The application was on the seizure of SIB’s religious publications at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang in August 2007.

The books were returned in January 2008.

The church is also seeking a declaration that it has the constitutional right to use the word “Allah” for religious publications and purposes.

On May 5, 2014, SIB failed to get leave from the High Court for its judicial review.

The Court of Appeal, however, reversed the High Court’s decision on Oct 1, 2014. It held that the application was not frivolous and vexatious.

Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer remarked that the judicial review filed by SIB almost a decade ago was in doubt as the government had returned the religious materials seized.

“Whether public interest litigation is permissible under judicial review (Order 53) or should proceed by way of writ or originating summons was another matter,” he said in his judgment. “The Attorney General’s Chambers ought to ventilate this before the High Court.”

Justice Hamid also removed Maiwp’s bid to be intervener, but allowed the religious body to come in as “amicus curiae” in the court proceedings.