PENANG: The High Court has granted a permanent injunction against the Malaysian Bar from holding any meeting to discuss issues that can be considered contempt or seditious.
Justice Dr R.K. Nathan granted the injunction sought by lawyer K. Raja Segaran to restrain the Bar, the Bar Council and its former chairman R.R. Chelvarajah from holding any further meetings that have the same purpose as the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) that had been scheduled for Nov 20, 1999.
(On Nov 19, 1999, Justice Dr Nathan, while sitting as Kuala Lumpur High Court judge, granted an interim injunction to stop the EGM pending the outcome of the suit for a permanent injunction.)
Yesterday, he declared that the EGM and the proposed resolution dated Oct 12, 1999, were ultra vires, constituted contempt of court, were seditious, and unconstitutional.
In his 78-page judgment read in the presence of plaintiffs counsel D.P. Vijandran and defendants counsel Alex DSilva and P.L. Yong, Justice Dr Nathan also granted the plaintiff damages to be assessed by the deputy registrar and costs.
Raja Segaran, 38, had filed the suit to restrain the defendants from holding the EGM, which had sought to discuss, among others, the judiciarys integrity under then Chief Justice Tun Eusoff Chin.
After the High Court granted the interim injunction, the defendants brought the matter to the Court of Appeal, which dismissed their appeal. They then filed for leave to appeal to the Federal Court, which also dismissed the application.
The main suit then proceeded before Justice Dr Nathan, who advised the parties in March 2001 to settle their differences as Eusoff had retired in December 2000.
Heeding his advice, Raja Segaran applied to discontinue the suit, but the defendants objected, saying they would be deprived of the right to test the principles laid down in the courts earlier judgment.
Justice Dr Nathan on May 4, 2001, allowed the suit to be discontinued on the grounds that any decision on the dispute would be academic because of Eusoffs retirement.
On April 8, last year, the Court of Appeal restored the discontinued suit, and held that Justice Dr Nathan would have to deliver his decision on the case that had been tried fully prior to the discontinuance.
Justice Dr Nathan said yesterday that when the defendants appealed against the interim injunction, the Court of Appeal had declared the conduct of the Bar in convening the EGM as illegal.
With such clear, conclusive enunciation from the Court of Appeal, and with the Federal Court refusing leave on this application, the matter ought to have ended.
It is totally unacceptable for those who propound the law to flout it by ignoring the principle of res judicata (a matter already settled in court) and re-agitating the same issues, albeit on the main trial, since a ruling from a superior court had already been made on points of law relating to the same issues, he said.