PUTRAJAYA: The Home Ministry and government today got the nod to proceed with its appeal to the Federal Court to challenge a court order which lifted the ban on the Bahasa Malaysia translation of a book authored by Canadian writer, Irshad Manji.
Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, chairing a three-man bench, allowed leave for the appeal application brought by the home minister, deputy home minister and the government.
The applicants are seeking to appeal against the High Court’s decision on Sept 5, 2013 which lifted the ban after allowing the judicial review application by the publisher, ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, to quash the prohibition order.
They lost their appeal to set aside the lifting of the ban on the controversial book, “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta” in the Court of Appeal which on Jan 13, last year, ruled that the ban on the Bahasa Malaysia translation was illogical since the English version of the book had already been sold.
Justice Arifin granted the leave to appeal on one legal question to be determined by the Federal Court at the hearing of the appeal.
The question is whether the quashing of the publication of the Bahasa Malaysia version of the book under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 still stands when the prohibition on the English version is still valid in law.
The other two judges presiding on the panel were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Hasan Lah and Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim.
On May 29, 2012, ZI Publications translated and published in Bahasa Malaysia the book originally authored by Irshad Manji in English as ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’.
On July 9, 2012, the publisher filed the judicial review application for a declaration that the ban order was unlawful and ultra vires Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
ZI Publications claimed that the book only contained opinions in the form of brief summaries criticising current approaches in the administration of religion, which it said were not harmful.
The High Court judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof in her decision had said that it must be emphasised that the book had been in circulation for about two weeks before it was banned, while its original version in English had been in circulation locally since 2011.
Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan represented the applicants while lawyer K. Shanmuga appeared for the publisher.