Malaysia’s Federal Court has fixed January 21 to hear the Roman Catholic Church’s review application following its failure to get leave to appeal the Home Minister’s ban on the use of the word “Allah” in its weekly publication, the Herald.
The date was decided following case management Monday before deputy Registrar of the Federal Court, Nor Aziati Jaafar.
The review application is aimed at setting aside the ruling by the apex court’s seven-man bench and establish a new panel to re-hear the leave application.
Lawyer James Lopez appeared for the church while Senior Federal Counsel Andi Razalijaya A Dadi represented the minister and government who are respondents.
Andi Razalijaya said the court had instructed the respondents and interveners who comprised state religious councils to file their affidavits (in reply to the application made by the church) by December 8.
“The applicant (church), the respondents and interveners are required to file their written submissions by January 7,” he said.
On September 19, the church filed the review application, about three months after it was denied leave to appeal a Court of Appeal ruling.
Lawyer Benjamin Dawson, a member of the church’s legal team then said the review was based on three broad grounds.
The first was that there were certain legal issues, which were central to the leave application but were not considered by the majority judgement of the Federal Court, such as the scope of Article 3 and Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.
Article 3 states Islam as the official religion of the Federation while Article 11 touches on freedom to practice one’s religion.
He said the church further contended that the minister’s decision to prohibit the use of the word Allah in the Herald had also taken into account a theological consideration.
Dawson said the second ground was that the apex court’s majority judgement decided on certain legal issues which were not argued nor raised by the parties before the Federal Court or the Court of Appeal, such as on the constitutional validity of Section 9 of the Anti-Propagation Enactment.
The third ground is that the Herald’s case is one of the most important constitutional cases to have come before the apex court, especially where minority rights are concerned.
He added there existed a public interest factor to support the review application.
On June 23, this year, the seven-member Federal Court panel chaired by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, had in a majority judgement dismissed the church’s application for leave to appeal.
The church wanted to reverse the findings of the October 14, 2013 Court of Appeal decision which allowed the minister’s appeal to overturn the 2009 High Court’s decision that Herald could use the word Allah.
The High Court had declared that the decision by the minister to ban Herald from using the word Allah, was illegal, null and void.
The church, led by the then Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam filed a judicial review application in 2009, naming the minister and the government as respondents.
Source: The Malaysian Insider