PUTRAJAYA, June 17 — The Federal Court three-member bench today allowed the Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun’s ex-parte application for leave to commence committal proceedings against Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd and Malaysiakini editor-in-chief.
“We agree that a prima facie case for contempt is established,” said Court of Appeal President Datuk Rohana Yusuf who chaired the bench.
She then fixed July 2 for the hearing of the committal proceedings.
Justice Rohana who sat with Federal Court judges Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Puan Sri Zaleha Yusof, also set June 25 for case management of the matter.
Mkini Dotcom operates the internet news portal, Malaysiakini.
Senior federal counsel Alice Loke Yee Ching appearing for the AG argued that Malaysiakini had allowed comments to be posted on the comment section of an article published on June 9 in Malaysiakini titled “CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1”.
She said the comments contained offending statements.
Loke said the AG had applied to be the applicant in this matter as he is the guardian of public interest, adding that the matter is definitely in the interest of the public as offensive and insulting statements were made against the judiciary.
She said those statements were an indirect attacked against the Chief Justice, the judge and judiciary as a whole and would result in eroding public confidence in the judiciary.
“Those statements expose the judiciary to public scandal and contempt,” she added.
Loke also submitted that a prima facie case of contempt has been made out, adding that by virtue of Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950, they (the respondents) were deemed to have published the statement.
Section 114A (1) states that a person whose name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting himself as the owner, host, administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or re-publish the publication is presumed to have published or re-published the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved.
Meanwhile, lawyer A. Surendra Ananth said the respondents have sent a representation to the AG yesterday evening for consideration of withdrawal of the leave application and requested the court to give a short adjournment.
However, Loke replied that the AG had considered the request and wished to proceed with an application.
Surendra told reporters that he would consult with his clients on whether to file an application to set aside the leave for committal proceedings or just proceed with the contempt.