KUALA LUMPUR: Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, which owns Borders, succeeded in challenging the raid, search and seizure of Irshad Manji's controversial book at a Borders outlet.
“The book was not subject to any prohibition (at that time),” High Court judge Justice Zaleha Yusof said Friday.
She declared the actions of the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) and two others on May 23 as illegal.
“The prohibition order (on the book) was only issued three weeks after the raid.”
Justice Zaleha said it would be “harmonious” to avoid tension by having regard that Malaysians are living in a multi-religion and multi-racial society.
Berjaya Books, Borders assistant general manager (merchandising) Stephen Fung Wye Keong and store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz had obtained leave for judicial review last June.
In her judgment, Justice Zaleha said it should have been made known to the public what publication was contrary to Islamic law.
She also held that the charge against Nik Raina in June last year for allegedly distributing the book was an infringement of Article 7 of the Federal Constitution.
Article 7 states that no person shall be punished for an act, which was not punishable by law when it was done.
The judge did not make any order as to costs after Berjaya Books lead counsel Rosli Dahlan said his client was not seeking any costs.
Borders co-counsel Ang Hean Leng said it was a landmark judgment as it was a first time that the court had decided on Article 7 saying that nobody would know that it was an offence to sell the book if there was no notification by the proper authorities.
Rosli said the Syarie prosecution chief should drop the charge against Nik Raina as it would be the right thing to do.
Berjaya Books chief operating officer Yau Su Peng, who was present in court, told reporters later that she was relieved by the court decision.
This has never been about money but the principle of defending our employees who are merely doing their duties,” she said.
Nik Raina said she was happy and appreciated her employer's efforts to help her, saying: “I am with the right company.”
Fung said the company just want to make sure that the employees had a safe working environment and to protect their interests.
Berjaya Books and two others applied for an order to quash the decision by Jawi officers to raid, search and seize Irshad Manji's books, Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta and Allah, Liberty and Love at the Borders bookstore at The Gardens Mall in Mid-Valley City on May 23, and to examine their staff that day.
They wanted a declaration that the actions of Jawi
were invalid as they were conducted before the Home Ministry had made any prohibitory order.
They had also sought to strike out the order against Fung and Nik Raina to give evidence under Section 58(1) of the Syariah Criminal Procedure Code (Federal Territories).
Among others, they have also asked for a declaration that the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Federal Territories) and Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act were only applicable to Muslims.
On June 19, last year Nik Raina, 36, was charged at the Syariah High Court with distributing by way of selling the book.
They named Jawi, the Home Minister and Minister in the Prime Ministers Department (Islamic Affairs) as respondents.