Putrajaya can proceed with appeal against sedition ruling

n-surendranPUTRAJAYA: The government can proceed with its appeal against the appellate court’s landmark ruling that struck down a provision in the Sedition Act 1948.

This follows a decision by the Federal Court’s three-man panel yesterday to grant the government leave to appeal against last Nov 25’s appellate court decision declaring Section 3 (3) of the Sedition Act, unconstitutional.

Chief Judge of Malaya Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin chairing the panel allowed the govenment’s application after lawyer Gopal Sri Ram, representing Sri Muda assemblyman Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, did not oppose leave to appeal application.

Federal Court judges Abu Samah Nordin and Zaharah Ibrahim were the other two judges presiding with Zulkefli.

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali, who led a team of senior federal counsels to represent the government submitted three legal questions for the Federal Court to decide.

Gopal also informed the court that at the hearing of the appeal, they would reserve the right to argue that the first two questions did not require an answer while the third question should be answered in their favour.

The third question is whether Section 3(3) of the Sedition Act contravenes Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and is therefore, invalid and of no effect in law.

The Court of Appeal three-man bench led by Justice Lim Yee Lan had allowed Mat Shuhaimi’s appeal and declared that Section 3(3) was an invalid ruling and that it had violated the Federal Constitution’s Article 10 – which guaranteed Malaysians’ right to freedom of speech and expression.

Section 3 (3) states that the prosecution does not have to prove a person’s intention to commit sedition in order to secure a conviction, and merely has to prove the accused’s remarks or actions had seditious tendency.

The Court of Appeal’s ruling means the prosecution now has to prove intent before a person can be convicted of sedition.

Mat Shuhaimi brought the constitutional challenge against the Sedition Act, which was used to charge him on Feb 7, 2011 over the blog posting which he was accused of making on Dec 30, 2010 at Pusat Khidmat Rakyat in Jalan Anggerik Vanilla, Kota Kemuning in Shah Alam, Selangor.

After the court proceedings, lawyer N Surendran who is also representing Mat Shuhaimi, told reporters they did not object to the government’s leave to appeal application as there was a novel question, and they felt the court should have the opportunity to decide on important constitutional questions and to develop the law.