Court fixes April 22 for decision on IRF’s bid to challenge book ban orders

IRF director Datuk Ahmad Farouk Musa speaks during a forum by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) in Kuala Lumpur on January 23, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May
IRF director Datuk Ahmad Farouk Musa speaks during a forum by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) in Kuala Lumpur on January 23, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The High Court here today has fixed April 22 for the decision on a judicial review application by the Islamic Renaissance Front Berhad (IRF) to challenge the Home Minister’s ban on three of its books.

One of the books is Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty authored by Turkish writer and journalist, Mustafa Akyol and its Malay version titled Islam Tanpa Keeskstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan published in 2016.

The other two are Wacana Pemikiran Reformis Jilid 1 and Wacana Pemikiran Reformis Jilid 2,  written by IRF founder Datuk Ahmad Farouk Musa and published in 2012 and October 2014 respectively.

The book ban orders were issued by the minister on September 6, 2017.

Judge Datuk Nordin Hassan fixed the date after hearing submissions by lawyer Khoo Guan Huat, representing IRF and federal counsel Jamilah Jamil, who acted for the Home Minister.

Earlier, Khoo submitted that the minister had acted unreasonably and failed to consider the fact that there was no evidence of actual prejudice to public order or public interests attributable to the publications.

“There is no evidence that the publications have alarmed public opinion,” he said.

Khoo also submitted that the minister had committed a breach of natural justice by failing to provide a reasoned decision and to afford the applicant the right to be heard on the reasons prior to issuing the ban.

Meanwhile, Jamilah maintained that the ban was reasonable.

“The minister has exercised his power reasonably within the powers conferred under the Printing Presses and Publications Act,” she said.

On November 29, 2017, the IRF has obtained leave from the High Court to challenge the ban on the three books.

IRF filed the leave application for a judicial review on November 7, 2017, seeking an order to quash the minister’s book ban orders, as well as a declaration that the ban was ultra vires of the Federal Constitution.

The movement is also seeking a declaration that Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) was unconstitutional, null and void. — Bernama

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