PUTRAJAYA, May 9 — The Appeals Court here today upheld the decision of a High Court, denying The Sun newspaper columnist R. Nadeswaran extension of time to file his defence in a defamation suit brought against him by a businessman.
A three-man panel chaired by Datuk Seri Abu Samah Nordin unanimously dismissed Nadeswaran’s appeal, ruling that it was academic.
In his decision, Abu Samah also said there was no justification or material before the panel to disturb the exercise of discretion by the High Court judge in not granting the extension of time, in view of the conduct and attitude of the appellant (Nadeswaran).
The panel, also comprising justices Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad and Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin, ordered Nadeswaran to pay RM15,000 in legal costs.
Nadeswaran was appealing against the decision of the High Court delivered on Sept 26, last year, dismissing his application for extension of time to file his defence.
He was six and half weeks late in filing his defence.
The High Court then fixed October 24 last year to proceed with the trial.
Nadeswaran filed for an order at the Appeals Court to stay the trial but it was dismissed on October 20.
The trial proceeded in the absence of Nadeswaran’s defence and High Court judge Amelia Tee Hong Geok Abdullah reserved her decision.
On April 27 this year, the judge delivered her decision ordering Nadeswaran to pay RM500,000 in damages to businessman Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Din over defamatory tweets.
Earlier, Nadeswaran’s counsel Lim Chee Wee said all his client asked for was an opportunity for his defence to be heard.
He said Nadeswaran’s previous counsel had made an admission in his affidavit and submission that he bore totally responsible for not filing the defence within time as he misunderstood the dates, adding that Nadeswaran should not be punished for the mistake.
However, Dhinesh Bhaskaran representing Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Din argued that the matter was academic because the High Court judge had already delivered her decision.
He said Nadeswaran should have written to Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Shariff to request that his appeal on the matter be expedited before the High Court judge delivered her decision, but he did not do so.
In a statement of claim filed on January 31 last year, Mohamad Salim, who is managing director of Gapurna group of companies, claimed that Nadeswaran, who writes the column, ‘Citizen-Nades’, made defamatory statements concerning his bumiputra status, via the journalist’s personal Twitter account. — Bernama