Editor's note: In view of the Federal Court's order for everyone to avoid commenting on this case, the commenting function for this article has been disabled.
The Federal Court has set July 13 to hear contempt proceedings against news portal Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan over comments posted by readers on the website.
This comes after a seven-member panel of the court decided this afternoon not to allow the respondents' application to set aside the leave order to initiate the proceedings.
Court of Appeal president Justice Rohana Yusuf, who delivered the judgment, said the decision was made unanimously.
The panel of judges found that Attorney-General Idrus Harun had established a prima facie case to initiate the contempt proceedings against Malaysiakini and Gan.
"Based on all these facts, inter alia, we are of the view that the respondents had published the impugned comments and that a prima facie case has been made out.
"We are also of the view that, furthermore, by virtue of Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950, the respondents are presumed to have published the impugned comments. The presumption is a rebuttable one," the judge said.
Besides Rohana, the six others on the panel were Chief Judge of the High Court of Malaya Azahar Mohamed, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court judges Mohd Zawawi Salleh, Nallini Pathmanathan, Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Abdul Rahman Sebli.
Rohana said the issue raised by counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar over the proceedings being initiated at the highest court had also been deliberated.
"Looking at the nature of the impugned comments earlier elaborated, which implicate the judiciary as a whole, which also include the chief justice of the Federal Court, we are of the view that the court is the right forum to commence these proceedings," she said.
"The application is hereby dismissed unanimously and we will hear the merits of the attorney-general's application in Enclosure 19 on another date," she said.
The court then set 9.30 am on July 13 for the hearing to commence and told all parties not to comment on the matter in public until then.
Earlier, Malik and senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, who represented the attorney-general, submitted their arguments for and against Malaysiakini's application to set aside the proceedings initiated by the attorney-general.
This is the first time Malaysiakini is being cited for contempt of court in its 20-year-old history.