PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision to order Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to pay RM12,320 in damages to the Bar Council for trespassing and tearing down three Human Rights Day banners at its premises in 2007.
A three-member panel chaired by Justice Abdul Wahab Patail unanimously dismissed DBKL’s appeal to set aside the High Court’s decision.
The other two judges on the panel were Justices Azahar Mohamed and Hamid Sultan Abu Backer.
In 2009, the Bar Council filed a civil action against the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, claiming that several DBKL officers had entered its premises in Jalan Leboh Pasar Besar, Kuala Lumpur, on Dec 9, 2007, and pulled down and confiscated the banners.
The council claimed that the DBKL officers’ acts were unlawful and unconstitutional.
The three banners stated “Stop the Patronage, Stop the Rot”, “As I Believe Freedom of Expression through Art, Music, Culture and Conscience...” and “Rakyat Hakim Negara” (People are the Nation’s Judge).
The Bar Council sought special, general, aggravated and exemplary damages.
In his defence, the mayor denied that the acts of his officers were unlawful and maintained that they had entered the premises because the council had failed to obtain a licence for putting up the banners under the Advertisements (Federal Territory) By-laws 1982.
The mayor added that the by-laws authorised his officers to enter any premises to remove banners without a DBKL licence.
On Sept 26 last year, the High Court ruled in favour of the Bar Council and awarded it RM320 in special damages and RM12,000 in general damages.
It ruled that the banners on human rights did not fall within the realm of “advertisement” which required a licence from DBKL.
The High Court held that the requirement for banner licence only applied for a commercial product or service.
DBKL was represented by lawyer B. Thangaraj while Ranjit Singh, Razlan Hadri Zulkifli and Jamie Wong appeared for the Bar Council. — Bernama