Hearing for judicial review on smoking ban set for Aug 22

A no-smoking banner is seen at an eatery in Putrajaya January 3, 2019. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
A no-smoking banner is seen at an eatery in Putrajaya January 3, 2019. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — The hearing for a judicial review initiated by seven individuals challenging the smoking ban on eateries has been set for August 22, the counsel representing the group said today.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla told Malay Mail the hearing, which was initially set to commence today, was adjourned to a later date after an affidavit was filed by the government last Friday.

Mohamed Haniff said he informed the court, before High Court Judge Justice Azizah Nawawi, that considering the short time available to him since the submission of documents by the respondents, more time was needed to study its contents and properly advise his clients.

“Most of them (clients) are outstation, some in Terengganu, so we need time to study it and meet up with them and decide whether to reply the affidavit,” he said.

“In all fairness, they have to allow us more time to go through all the documents even if it was served late,” he added.

He said the court then instructed for all pending documents to be submitted as soon as possible, before setting the hearing date in August.

Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan represented the Health Ministry.

In January, the group that calls themselves the Smokers Right Club was granted leave to initiate judicial review proceedings to challenge the ban imposed by the Health Ministry.

The group comprises of Zulkifli Mohamad, 56, Mohd Hanizam Yunus, 52, Ridzuan Muhammad Noor, 52, Mohd Yazid Mohd Yunus, 48, Mohd Laisani Dollah, 46, Yuri Azhar Abdollah, 39, and Mohd Sufian Awaludin, 35.

The applicants claimed that the smoking ban contradicts the Federal Constitution as smoking was not a criminal activity, not banned in the country, and is legally valid and guaranteed by the constitution.

They claimed that smokers have equal rights as non-smokers when visiting eateries and are free to spend as much time as they want there, arguing the ban would result in Malaysian smokers being constructively isolated from visiting such premises.

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