PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has ordered former Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman to pay a total of RM120,000 in costs to former Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and KiniTV Sdn Bhd in relation to a defamation suit.
On Feb 22 last year, the High Court dismissed Tajuddin’s suit against Khalid, KiniTV and New Straits Times Press Bhd (NSTP) without costs. NSTP did not appeal.
Today, a three-member Court of Appeal bench chaired by Justice S Nantha Balan said the RM120,000 is for costs in the High Court, leave applications and today’s proceedings.
“We feel it is fair and reasonable in the circumstances to set aside the High Court ruling that deprived Khalid and KiniTV of the costs in the trial,” Nantha Balan said in allowing the appeal.
Nantha Balan, who sat with Justices Nazlan Ghazali and Choo Kah Sing, then ordered Tajuddin to pay a sum of RM60,000 each to the appellants.
Tajuddin had filed the suit against Khalid, KiniTV and NSTP on April 26, 2017.
He claimed that Khalid had uttered defamatory statements laced with curse words at two media conferences held at the Parliament lobby in 2016.
He said Khalid’s first statement was published in New Straits Times, headlined “Fury over deputy minister’s remark”, on Nov 22, and the second statement was published by KiniTV on Nov 24, 2016.
He said the two statements meant that he was not fit to be an MP and had acted against the teachings and culture of Islam.
The High Court dismissed the suit on Feb 22 last year but did not order costs.
In today’s proceedings, Nantha Balan said the trial judge had erred by categorising the claim as a public interest case and for refusing to award costs on that basis.
“The public may be interested in the matter as MPs were trading barbs in the Parliament lobby. However, that does not make it a public interest case. It is a private litigation,” he said.
He said costs should have been awarded since a lot of work had been put in.
“There were 11 days of trial between 2017 and 2019,” he added.
Khalid and KiniTV had obtained leave from the Court of Appeal last year to pursue their appeals on the issue of costs.
Lawyers SN Nair and Jaden Phoon appeared for Khalid, K Shanmuga represented KiniTV, while Hasnal Rezua Merican and Muzzammil Merican appeared for Tajuddin.
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