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The Court of Appeal yesterday unanimously upheld a High Court ruling which quashed the home minister's decision to ban a book on the grounds it was prejudicial to public order.
Judge Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail, who delivered the ruling, said the minister's contention that the publication, "Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism", was a threat to public order, was without clear evidence.
"Such outrageous defiance of logic falls within the Wednesbury unreasonableness and irrationality," he said.
Wahab, who sat with Datuk Clement Allan Skinner and Mah Weng Kwai, further stated that the issue of public order was prejudiced and would not be addressed even if there was breach of the Islamic Development Department’s (Jakim) guidelines.
The respondent, SIS Forum (Malaysia), represented by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and K. Shanmuga, was also awarded RM20,000 in costs as the matter was of public interest.
Wahab said it was the duty of the court to interfere if an administrative or executive arm misunderstood the law, misdirected itself for considering irrelevant facts or failure to determine relevant facts in coming to a fair and just decision.
The appellate court said the then Judicial Commissioner Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof had rightly confined himself to exercise the judicial review application by SIS Forum (Malaysia).
SIS Forum (Malaysia) had on December 2009 applied for a judicial review to challenge the order by the then Home Minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar who banned the book which was published in 2005.
The book, a collection of essays by activists and international intellectuals, was edited by sociologist Professor Norani Othman of the Malaysian and International Studies Institute, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
SIS claimed that the ban on the book by Syed Hamid on November, 2009 was outside the ambit of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and infringed the fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Ariff in his judgment had said that the book had been in circulation for over two years and that the publication was academic in nature.