KUALA LUMPUR: Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) lost its bid to challenge the ban on the use of the word “Allah” in all its publications.
High Court judge Justice Zaleha Yusof dismissed the application by SIB and its Sabah president Reverend Datuk Jerry Dusing for leave for a judicial review.
Justice Zaleha ruled that she was bound by the Court of Appeal judgment dated Oct 14 last year which held that the word “Allah” was not an integral part of the faith and practices of Christianity.
(The Court of Appeal ruled that the Catholic weekly, Herald, would not be allowed to use the word “Allah” to refer to the Christian God. The publisher – Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur – had since posted 28 administrative law, constitutional law and general questions to get leave from the Federal Court for deliberation. Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, who chaired a seven-man panel reserved judgment in March after hearing submissions by parties in the application).
“On the usage of the word ‘Allah’, I have no choice but to refer to the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Home Minister versus Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop.
“Although the decision is particular to the Herald publication, all the Court of Appeal judges held that the word ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith and practices of Christianity.
“Therefore, the prohibition by the minister is not unconstitutional. As long as the decision stands, applying the doctrine of stare decisis, this court is bound by the decision of the most superior courts,” she said in dismissing the application for leave.
(Under stare decisis, rules or principles of law on which a court rested a previous decision are authoritative in all future cases in which the facts are substantially the same).
Justice Zaleha, however, did not make any order as to costs.
High Court senior assistant registrar Arun Noval Dass read out the judgment in chambers as Justice Zaleha was on emergency leave, said Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan.
In their application for leave on Dec 10, 2007, SIB and Rev Jerry named the minister and the Government as respondents.
They filed the application after their religious publications, imported from Indonesia, were detained by the Customs authorities at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang in August 2007.
The minister refused the importation of four titles of the publications. They sought to quash the minister’s decision to prohibit the importation and withhold the delivery of the Sunday School publications on grounds that he acted unconstitutionally, erred in law and acted without jurisdiction.
Their counsel Lim Heng Seng told reporters that his clients would appeal against yesterday’s ruling. Rev Dusing said that his church wanted a “clear resolution” in this matter as it had “important implications for Sabahans and Sarawakians”.