THE hearing of a civil case against the government and preacher Dr Zakir Naik has been postponed to September 21 after a last-minute application by Putrajaya to strike out the suit yesterday.
Judge Azizah Nawawi made the decision today after receiving the notification yesterday. Both parties will now appear before the judge in chambers on September 21.
“I have not seen the application made by the government through the Attorney-General’s Chambers. But they say they are going to argue on points of law,” said lawyer S. Karthigesan, who is appearing for the plaintiffs.
He, however, questioned why it took Putrajaya so long to decide on attempting to strike out the suit.
In March, 19 Malaysians initiated legal proceedings against Putrajaya and four others to get a court order to declare preacher Zakir a threat to national security.
The plaintiffs are lawyers, human rights activists, businessmen and also former deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy, the chairman of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
Others include activist Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Sabah STAR (Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku) president Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and lawyer Siti Zabedah Kassim.
They are applying to the High Court to get a declaration that Zakir is a threat to public order, morals, the economy, social harmony and national education.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a court order to revoke Zakir’s permanent residency in Malaysia.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed in April that the controversial Muslim preacher has been granted permanent resident status in Malaysia.
It was also reported that the Indian government had revoked the passport of the Islamic preacher, rendering him stateless.
Zakir’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was declared an unlawful organisation by India in November last year and a Mumbai court issued a non-bailable warrant against him in April.
He is accused of inciting terrorism through his speeches and teachings.
In Malaysia, however, Muslim rights group, Perkasa, is supportive of Zakir. Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali and several of his members were at the Jalan Duta court today to follow the hearing.
Perkasa, earlier through their lawyer Adnan Seman, submitted two legal points in its bid to be interveners in the suit – Zakir was not named as party in the legal suit and Section 59A of the Immigration Act which states that the court will not intervene in the decision made by Immigration unless there is violation in procedural process.
Ibrahim said Perkasa was merely upholding justice which is the responsibility of Muslims.
“Not once, after watching Zakir or listening to his speeches, do I believe that he promotes extremism.
“He is a Muslim preacher who is highly regarded in Malaysia, who has received a Maal Hijrah award from the Agong and also other awards from other countries, including Saudi Arabia,” said Ibrahim.
He also chided Putrajaya for its failure to file an application to strike out the case immediately after it was filed in March.
He added that Zakir’s problem was between him and India.
“We are not questioning laws in India, but we are championing Muslims who are being oppressed in Kashmir,” Ibrahim added.