PUTRAJAYA, June 22, 2015:
The Home Ministry’s appeal to set aside an order compelling it to return eight CDs containing the word “Allah” to a Sarawakian clerk would be decided tomorrow.
Senior federal counsel (SFC) Shamsul Bolhassan confirmed today that the Court of Appeal had set tomorrow for the verdict.
Panel justices Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam would also decide on the respondent Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill’s cross-appeal.
On April 23, this year, the court reserved its decision after hearing submissions from Jill’s counsel Lim Heng Seng, and Shamsul, who is representing the Home Ministry and government in their appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on July 21, last year.
Jill is cross-appealing against the High Court’s decision to not grant the declaratory reliefs she had sought. On May 11, 2008, the CDs bearing titles such as Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah, Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah and Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah, were seized from Jill upon her arrival at the low-cost terminal airport in Sepang.
She subsequently filed a judicial review application on Aug 20, 2008 seeking for the return of the CDs as well as declaratory reliefs.
At the appeal proceeding, Jill’s counsel submitted that the Home Ministry’s action to seize the CDs was unconstitutional and had violated her right to freedom of religion guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
Lee further submitted that Jill should be free to practise her religion, including using the word “Allah” in any part of Malaysia because the Federal Constitution had guaranteed that right.
However, Shamsul countered that Jill’s right to freedom of religion was not absolute but subjected to public order, public health and morality under Article 11(5) of the Federal Constitution.