PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court on Tuesday (April 18) upheld a ruling by the Court of Appeal quashing a development order by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for Taman Awam Bukit Kiara (previously known as Taman Rimba Kiara) in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
In a unanimous decision, a three-member panel led by Federal Court judge Justice Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, along with Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah and Justice Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang, affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal.
On Jan 27, 2021, the Court of Appeal had quashed the development order given by DBKL.
DBKL, Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) and the developer had then appealed to the Federal Court for the development order to be reinstated and continue to develop Taman Rimba Kiara.
In Tuesday's ruling, the judges concluded that the issuance of the development order contravened existing laws in the Federal Territories.
Justice Nallini said the court primarily considered whether or not the mayor, as an entity under the Federal Territories (FT) Act, had exercised his discretion correctly and lawfully.
She said the affidavits offered by the mayor offered little insight into how he exercised its discretion in issuing the order.
“The affidavits failed to explain why the mayor departed from the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 (KLSP2020).
“The mayor also relied on a series of planning rules and regulations which conflicted or contravened the KLSP2020,” she said.
Justice Nallini added that according to the KLSP2020, the land alienated for development was demarcated as a green area for public use.
“It seems that the demarcation was changed without a corresponding rectification in the structure plan,” she said, adding that no hearings were held to gather objections and input from the public about the change in land status.
The court also rejected the submission by the appellants, namely the mayor, YWP and developer Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd, that the KLSP2020 was a mere policy and was not legally binding.
On the issue of the settlers of the longhouses in the area, Nallini said this was a separate obligation owed by the authorities.
“The mayor is not to rely on this issue to justify granting the development order which, in effect, converts the public space into a mixed development for private purposes,” she added.
On the issue of the mayor serving on the YWP board of trustees, the judge said there was a likelihood of a conflict of interest or bias involved.
The verdict by the Federal Court marked the end of an eight-year saga involving the stakeholders in the Taman Rimba Kiara issue.
It began in 2016 after news broke that a development comprising eight blocks of serviced apartments and one block of affordable housing was planned there.
Legal battles ensued between residents with DBKL, YWP and the developer, while a series of negotiations to find a compromise failed.
In 2017, TTDI residents filed a judicial review against DBKL and the mayor, seeking to quash the development order.
The High Court subsequently denied the request, after concluding that no elements of illegality were found in the order's issuance.
In December 2018, TTDI residents filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal to challenge the High Court’s decision.
In January 2021, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s verdict, effectively quashing the development order.
DBKL, YWP and the developer then filed an appeal with the Federal Court to reinstate the order for the land to be developed.