PETALING JAYA: The High Court has ordered the Seremban city council and its mayor to pay damages to a company after revoking a planning approval to build a waste processing plant in Sendayan three years ago.
Judge Azizul Azmi Adnan, who allowed a judicial review application by SPM Resources Sdn Bhd, said the council’s decision to revoke the approval was tainted with “irrationality” and was “so unreasonable”.
The judge added that the council and mayor had acted improperly by making the approval subject to the company withdrawing a libel suit against Rasah MP Cha Kee Chin.
However, despite finding that the respondents had acted improperly, Azizul refused to quash the council’s decision.
“It is solely within the province of the state officials and the machinery to determine the environment and social policy to be applied for the benefit of the residents of the state,” said Azizul, who delivered the ruling in Seremban on Friday.
Azizul, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, instead ordered the respondents to pay SPM Resources damages for the period commencing Nov 11, 2020, when the planning approval was initially given, until May 24 last year, when it was revoked.
The damages will be assessed by the court at a later date.
The judge also allowed SPM Resources costs of RM30,000.
The company was represented by lawyers Haresh Mahadevan and Ramzani Idris, while V Ganesalingam appeared for the respondents.
In his reasoning, Azizul said the council and mayor had failed to communicate to the company the Negeri Sembilan state government’s policy not to allow the building of any new waste management facilities in the state.
The judge ruled that they had also failed to state when this policy had come into existence despite being asked to do so.
“Even if the policy had existed before the initial application for planning permission was made in 2020, this had not been communicated to the plaintiff which resulted in expenses being incurred,” he said.
In August last year, the company filed a judicial review application against the council and the mayor. It sought a declaration by the court that the revocation was null and void.
The company also asked the court to order that the project be allowed to proceed and for restitution over its losses due to the project approval being revoked.
In its affidavit in support of the suit, the company said its libel suit against Cha was unrelated to the approval for the project which had already been granted.