The Federal Court today nullified the High Court and Court of Appeal’s decision to award damages to a former Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) detainee for wrongful detention.
A five-man bench chaired by Court of Appeal President Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin allowed the appeal by the superintendent of the Kamunting Detention Centre, deputy home minister and the government to set aside the RM300,000 of damages awarded to Badrul Zaman PS Md Zakariah by the Court of Appeal.
Badrul Zaman (photo above) was awarded RM3.3 million in damages by the High Court in 2010 but two years later, the appellate court reduced the sum to RM300,000.
Federal Court Justice Ramly Ali, in delivering the court's judgment, said under Section 8B (1) and Section 8C of the ISA Act, the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the former ISA detainee’s claim against the deputy home minister and award him damages for false imprisonment.
He said the deputy home minister's exercise of discretion to issue detention orders cannot be questioned in the court of law, except on the issue of non-compliance with the procedural requirements.
"We hold that the proceedings, as well as the decisions and orders of the High Court and the Court of Appeal, are null and void and of no effect. They cannot be allowed to stand," Justice Ramly said.
Minister has power over ISA detention orders
He said ISA is a security law and the power and discretion of the minister of Home Affairs to issue detention orders under Section 8 (1) of the ISA involved the security of the nation and thus it was left entirely to the minister or executive to decide, except on grounds of procedural non-compliance.
"The court has no jurisdiction and cannot exercise any jurisdiction to deal with the respondent's (Badrul Zaman's) claim, The respondent's present action has nothing to do with any question on compliance with any procedural requirement under the ISA," Justice Ramly said.
The other judges presiding on the bench were Federal Court judges Hasan Lah, Zaharah Ibrahim and Balia Yusof Wahi.
Badrul Zaman, who passed away in 2015 from cancer, was detained for two years from 1991, for alleged involvement in issuing fake permits and passports to foreign workers.
His detention order was then extended for another two years, effective Sept 14, 1993. Badrul Zaman did not challenge the validity of his initial two-year detention order but only challenged the extension of his detention order for another two years issued by the deputy home minister.
He was released in 1994 after the High Court in Penang allowed his habeas corpus application and he subsequently filed a civil action against the appellants in the same year.
Badrul Zaman won his claim at the High Court and the Court of Appeal also ruled in favour of him after dismissing the appeal brought by the detention centre superintendent, deputy home minister and the government on liability. The Court of Appeal, however, reduced the quantum of damages.
Senior federal counsel Alice Loke Yee Ching appeared for the appellants while counsel M Manoharan represented Badrul Zaman.