Court postpones decision on SIS book ban reversal
UPDATED @ 09:53:40 PM 25-06-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — The Court of Appeal today delayed its decision on the the status of a book published by Sisters In Islam (SIS) to July 27, which was banned about four years ago.
The book, titled “Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism”, was banned by the Home Ministry on July 21, 2008 on the grounds that it would threaten public order.
The ban was challenged in court where High Court judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof overturned the government’s decision on January 25, 2010.
However, the government filed an appeal against the High Court decision on February 3, 2010, more than two years ago.
“The case was heard in full, but the judges deferred their decision to July 27 because they wanted to consider the matter further,” Suri Kempe from SIS told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today.
Both sides were able to make their submissions, with the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) raising three arguments on behalf of the government, said Suri.
She said the AGC’s first contention was that the High Court judge went beyond his jurisdiction.
It further asserted “the High Court judge was too restrictive in the reading of the word ‘public order’”, saying he should have allowed for the word “likelihood” when interpreting Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act.
SIS had earlier pointed out that that during the book’s circulation two years before the ban, “there was no evidence that public order had been threatened as a result of the book’s contents”.
The last argument raised by the AGC was that SIS and the respondents had no legal right to be heard as the Act did not contain such a provision.
Suri said SIS’s lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar (picture), had rebutted the first point by saying “the judge recognised his role in judicial review and that he centred his judgment on the ban order itself.”
Malik also told the court that the home minister’s ban had “encroached (upon) a fundamental right of the publisher” and made the right to be heard even more important.
SIS had last week said the book is a compilation of scholarly essays and “highlights areas and approaches that are problematic with regards to the administration of Islam in Malaysia, in particular the implementation of Islamic Family Law and syariah criminal laws.”
Presiding over today’s hearing were Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail, Datuk Clement Allan Skinner and Mah Weng Kwai.