KUALA LUMPUR: Clerk Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill will know on July 21 whether the use of the word “Allah” can be considered an integral part of her right to practise her religion.
High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Zaleha Yusof fixed the date to deliver her decision after hearing submissions from both parties.
Jill’s lead counsel Lim Heng Seng argued that his client was seeking justice from the court as it was her constitutional right to import and use publications which contain the word “Allah”.
He said his client initiated the judicial review proceedings because she was convinced that the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and the rule of law would be upheld.
“This case is not about Christians pitting themselves against Muslims, Christianity against Islam or a citizen who is acting disloyally, but a native bumiputra Christian seeking her constitutional rights and legitimate expectations from the Government and a minister (named) as respondents,” he said.
Jill, 33, had succeeded in her bid on May 4, 2009 to obtain leave from the court to challenge the Home Minister’s decision to seize her eight compact discs (CDs) that contained the word “Allah”.
In her application for a judicial review, Jill is seeking to quash the minister’s decision to seize the CDs at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal on May 11, 2008, and for the return of her CDs.
In applying to get an award for damages, Jill said she used the word “Allah” in her prayers and religious education.
Among others, Lim submitted that the Home Minister and the Government, named as respondents, had failed to act in accordance with the law set out in the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, saying that the ban order over the use of the word was flawed and should be set aside.
However, Senior Federal Counsel Munahyza Mustafa argued that under Section 9(1) of the same Act, the power to refuse importation or to withhold delivery of the CDs was within the discretion of the minister if he was satisfied that the CDs might cause harm to public security and order.
“The court must be very cautious in reviewing decisions of such nature on its merits so as not to fall into the trap of ‘stepping into the shoes of the decision maker’, for that will run contrary to the well-established principles of judicial review,” she said.
Lawyer Philip Koh Tong Ngee, who held a watching brief for the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, submitted that the court should take note that every religious group had been given freedom to manage their religious affairs under the Federal Constitution.