PETALING JAYA: The Court of Appeal today allowed an appeal by a former Hindraf leader against a lower court’s ruling in a defamation suit brought by Hindraf co-founder P Waytha Moorthy to proceed.
A panel of three judges headed by Hamid Sultan Abu Backer allowed former Hindraf national adviser N Ganesan’s appeal against a Seremban High Court ruling.
Waytha, the national unity and social wellbeing minister, was also ordered to pay Ganesan RM30,000 in costs.
The defamation suit was brought by Waytha over an article published in Tamil Nesan on March 13, 2016, titled “Hindraf is splitting again”. He named Ganesan and Tamil Nesan (M) Sdn Bhd as defendants.
Ganesan maintained that he did not write the article as claimed in the defamation suit.
On July 15 last year, the Seremban High Court allowed Waytha’s defamation claim against the two defendants to proceed. It also ordered Ganesan to pay RM100,000 in damages and RM20,000 in costs.
Ganesan told FMT that his counsel, Gurdial Singh Nijar, submitted that crucial evidence was “misconstrued” in the High Court, which led to evidence being disregarded.
Gurdial also submitted that the trial judge had “failed to derive proper benefit from the undoubted advantage of seeing and hearing witnesses at the trial”, and when reaching his conclusion, “had not properly analysed the entirety of the evidence which was given before him”.
“In allowing the appeal, the panel of judges effectively re-emphasised the principle of the threshold of evidence for the plaintiff to establish the truth of their claim when the defendant flatly denies the claim,” Ganesan said.
He said the ruling signifies that the people must have free access to the media without fear of retribution from politicians.
“Politicians who do not understand this principle should really not participate in our process of democracy,” he said.