PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today ordered TV3 to pay RM200,000 in damages for defaming lawyer and former Malaysian Bar president Manjeet Singh Dhillon.
Lawyer Americk Sidhu, who represented Manjeet, said the three-member bench led by Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, in allowing his client’s appeal, also ordered the Umno-controlled broadcaster to pay another RM70,000 in costs.
“The bench concurred with our submission that the High Court judge erred in law and facts in dismissing the suit,” he told FMT.
Justices Badariah Sahamid and Mary Lim Thiam Suan were the other members of the panel.
On Sept 11, 2015, High Court judge Nor Bee Ariffin threw out Manjeet’s suit against TV3 and ordered him to pay RM50,000 in costs after finding no evidence that he had been defamed by the television station four years earlier.
The bench, however, affirmed the findings of Nor Bee against former Padang Serai MP N Gobalakrishnan, ex-Utusan Malaysia journalist Raja Syahrir Abu Bakar and Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad for defaming Manjeet.
Gobalakrishnan was ordered to pay RM20,000 in costs while Raja Syahrir and Utusan another RM20,000. These payments were in addition to the earlier damages and costs that the High Court had imposed on the three.
In the High Court, Gobalakrishnan was ordered to pay RM150,000 in damages while the ex-journalist and the publisher were ordered to pay RM200,000 in compensation.
Both also had to pay a total of RM100,000 in costs to the senior lawyer following the previous ruling.
In her judgment, Nor Bee said there was no doubt that Gobalakrishnan had uttered the defamatory words during an interview by the media.
Based on that interview, Utusan published an article on Aug 17, 2011 with the title “Manjeet selalu burukkan kerajaan” (Manjeet always disparages the government) and that the article could tarnish Manjeet Singh’s reputation as he was then representing lawyer N Pathmanaban, an accused in the murder of cosmetics millionaire Sosilawati Lawiya.
She said the defence of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege advanced by Gobalakrishnan, Raja Syahrir and Utusan Melayu were not helpful to them.
Manjeet had filed the RM2.5 million suit on Sept 26, 2011 in which he named Gobalakrishnan, Raja Syahrir, Utusan Melayu and TV3 as the defendants.