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KOTA KINABALU: The High Court dismissed the judicial review application for a defamation suit by Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri against a local newspaper to be heard in Sabah.

Judge Ravinthran Paramaguru also fixed RM2,000 in costs for the applicant - lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph - to pay to the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC).

Ravinthran said the remedies sought by the applicant were against what the Registrar of the High Court of Malaya had done, which is registering the writ filed in Kuala Lumpur.

"This court is being asked to question the action of the Registrar of the High Court of Malaya. In my view, since the applicant (Marcel) has made jurisdiction a big issue, by his own argument, I should also pose a question, do I have jurisdiction in this case.

"The act being questioned here is the act of the Registrar of the High Court of Malaya in registering a defamation suit in Kuala Lumpur.

"The High Court of Malaya and High Court of Sabah and Sarawak are independent courts.

"Therefore, even if leave is granted, I cannot grant any of the remedies sought in the judicial review application because that defamation (suit) was accepted for registration in Kuala Lumpur. On that ground alone, it (judicial review) should not be granted," he said.

Ravinthran also noted the matter pertaining to public interest has been addressed in the High Court of Malaya and pending appeal in the Court of Appeal, stressing the judicial review application should have being filed in Kuala Lumpur.

Marcel had named the Registrar of the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur as first respondent, Ismail as second respondent, and Messrs Kesavan Advocates and Solicitors as third respondent.

Senior Federal Counsel Andi Razalijaya A. Dadi, who represented the AGC and assisted by federal counsel Dorine Patrick, told the court Marcel has no capacity to file the application as he was not the party involved in the action.

Marcel replied the matter was of a public interest and not about locus standi.

Ismail last year filed the suit against the Sabah-based newspaper over articles published between Jan 24 and Sept 9, 2015, on a controversy surrounding turtle egg dishes served at an Umno function in Beluran.

The Umno Supreme Council member filed the lawsuit through Messrs Kesavan, naming Sabah Publishing Sdn Bhd as the first defendant and Daily Express editor James Sarda as the second defendant.

According to a news report, Ismail claimed the articles suggested he was evading responsibility, had no respect for the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1967 and showed disregard for the investigation process.

Earlier this year Ismail was reported saying he had instructed his lawyers to pursue the case further after the latest court instructions that the case should be heard in Kuala Lumpur and not in Kota Kinabalu.

The High Court dismissed the judicial review application for a defamation suit by Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri against a local newspaper to be heard in Sabah.
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