Lawyer Siti Zabedah Kasim is suing the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) and 18 others over her alleged wrongful arrest and unlawful confinement during a 2016 raid on a private transgender event at Kuala Lumpur.
The writ of summons was filed by law firm Messrs Saha and Associates at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry on April 1 this year.
The legal action followed on the heels of a Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling on June 13, 2017, for Jawi to release details of its officers involved in the arrest of Siti.
The said 2017 ruling was in regard to Siti’s “pre-trial discovery proceedings” suit to obtain details of the Jawi raiding officers, which was done in order to prep up for the actual lawsuit.
On the nearly two-year gap between the ruling in 2017 and the filing of the legal action on April 1 this year, Siti said it was because she wanted to monitor the progress of her related criminal case at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court first before deciding whether to file a civil suit.
“I thought my criminal case would be done (before any civil suit would be filed over the Jawi raid).
“Since it has not (the criminal case is currently ongoing), we need to file the suit due to the limitation period (for the filing of civil action),” she told Malaysiakini today.
Her counsel Surendra Ananth concurred, explaining that his client was initially preoccupied with her related criminal case at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court, adding that both the criminal and civil matters arose from the same raid.
On June 23, 2017, Siti was charged with obstructing a public servant from carrying out duties during the Jawi raid at the private fund-raising dinner at the ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel on April 3, 2016.
Aside from Jawi and a few others, the writ of summons named 15 Jawi-linked staff as defendants.
They are the Federal Territories Religious Enforcement chief officer, followed by 14 Jawi religious enforcement officers; Akmal Nadzim Abdullah, Siti Nor Jihan Saleh @ Md Ghazali, Farah Wahida Zulkiflee, Ruzaimie Mamat, Mohd Hasmizi Mohd Hassan, Mohd Shahrizan Yaacob, Mohd Khairuddin Mohd Noor, Rosyaimi Affendi Ruslan, Ahmad Naziz Lahori, Mohammad Izehar Md Amin, Mohd Faizal Mustapha, Mohd Fikri Abu Mansor, Mohd Faizal Roslan, and Mohamad Bukhori Ahmad.
The remaining three defendants are the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP), Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa (photo), and the government of Malaysia.
Siti claimed that the defendants had perpetrated misfeasance of public office and subjected her to false imprisonment as well as violated her fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution.
According to the statement of claim, Siti was subjected to false imprisonment between 10.30pm on April 3, 2016, and 2.30am on April 4 the same year.
She alleged that the unlawful confinement took place when 14 Jawi enforcement officers blocked the exits of the ballroom, preventing anyone there, including her, from leaving.
She said the first-named defendant Akmal issued a threat to all those present that they would “face the consequences” if they leave.
Siti said she was then subjected to wrongful arrest when Akmal and second-named defendant Siti Nor Jihan detained her despite her allegedly having not committed any offence and that she was merely present at the event as legal counsel for its organiser, Ira Sophia.
“The justification for the arrest, that the plaintiff (Siti) had prevented the first to 14th defendants (the 14 Jawi enforcement officers) from carrying out their duties is baseless under law or fact,” she said.
She explained that all 19 defendants have no jurisdiction and/or power to investigate for an offence under the Penal Code, in relation to the transgender event.
She said this is because all of the defendants only have jurisdiction and power to investigate offences under the Syariah Criminal Offence (Federal Territories) Act 1997.
“At the premise, the plaintiff was unlawfully detained for around four hours.
‘On the above-stated reasons, the plaintiff had incurred loss and damages,” she said, adding that she suffered nervous shock, mental anguish, suffering and humiliation as a result.
Siti alleged that the four-hour detention unlawfully deprived her of her fundamental right of personal liberty under Article 5 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
“The plaintiff was not informed of what offence under the act that she has committed or suspected to have committed. This goes against Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution,” she said.
Article 5(3) states that a person arrested shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of the arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of the person’s choice.
Siti claimed that the 14 Jawi enforcement officers had abused their office in perpetuating the wrongful arrest and unlawful confinement against her.
She alleged that it was done with malicious intent and/or perpetrated with the knowledge that it went against the law.
The plaintiff also alleged that the other defendants – Jawi, MAIWP, the Federal Territories Religious Enforcement chief officer, Mujahid and the government – are vicariously liable for the actions and/or omissions of the 14 Jawi enforcement officers.
Under the law, vicarious liability refers to a situation when someone can be held responsible for the actions of another person, such as an employer being liable for the action and omission of its employee.
Siti seeks general, aggravated and exemplary damages, 5 per cent annual interest on damages awarded from the date of judgment until full settlement, cost and any other relief deemed fit by the court.
Meanwhile, Surendra revealed that the Kuala Lumpur High Court judicial commissioner Latifah Mohd Tahar will decide on Oct 9 whether to allow Siti’s application for stay of the civil action pending the outcome of Siti’s related criminal trial.
The lawyer said his client applied for the stay in order to monitor for new developments in her criminal case, which may have a significant bearing on the civil suit. – Malaysiakini