PUTRAJAYA, June 25 (Bernama) -- The constitutionality and validity of the
Sedition Act 1948 cannot be challenged, ruled the Federal Court here today.
Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said Article 4 (2)
(b) of the Federal Constitution states that such a law cannot be challenged.
"The Sedition Act is a good law and is not ultra vires the Federal
Constitution," said Justice Zulkefli who chaired a five-man panel that
unanimously dismissed lawyer P.Uthayakumar''s appeal to declare the Act
He said the arguments made by Uthayakumar''s counsel M.Manoharan had no
merits. Manoharan had argued that the Sedition Act contravened the Federal
Constitution because Article 10 (1) (a) of the Constitution recognised freedom
of speech and expression as the fundamental right of all citizens.
Uthayakumar was appealing against the Court of Appeal''s decision delivered
on Feb 24 this year which had upheld the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court
dismissing his application to declare the Sedition Act unconstitutional.
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Justice Zulkefli said Article 10 (2) empowered Parliament to enact
restrictions on the Act, adding that it was a qualified freedom relating to the
freedom of speech under condition.
Federal Court judges Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar, Datuk Hasan Lah, Datin
Paduka Zaleha Zahari and Datuk Zainun Ali were the other judges presiding on the
Uthayakumar, 49, a former Internal Security Act detainee, was charged in
the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Dec 11, 2007, with publishing a seditious
letter on the ''Police Watch Malaysia'' website, dated Nov 15, 2007, addressed
to then-prime minister of Britain, Gordon Brown.
He made the declaratory application (to declare the Sedition Act
unconstitutional), in a bid to have the charge against him under the Act to be
revoked and the prosecution in the proceedings in the Sessions Court be struck
out. The case is fixed for case management on July 18 at the Kuala Lumpur
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Earlier, Manoharan had submitted that the Sedition Act was unconstitutional
because the scheme of the Act makes it an offence for a person to merely act,
speak or publish statements with a "seditious tendency" without any requirement
on the part of the prosecution to prove that the words were indeed seditious.
He also said the truth of the seditious statements also need not be proven.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Noorin Badarudin submitted that the right to
freedom of speech as guaranteed under Article 10 (1) of the Federal Constitution
was not an absolute right.
She said Article 10 (2) states that Parliament was empowered to pass laws to
restrict the right of the said freedom.
"Freedom of speech is seriously restricted. It cannot be in our country a
non-absolute freedom and unrestricted right," she said.
Noorin said the Sedition Act came within the permitted restriction under
Article 10 (2) and therefore the law stood valid.
JA KHY HA