Federal Court dismisses orang asli villagers' bid to get leave to appeal

Federal Court dismisses orang asli villagers' bid to get leave to appeal
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PUTRAJAYA (Sept 26): A group of orang asli villagers of Kg Kelaik in Gua Musang, Kelantan on Monday failed to obtain leave to pursue their appeal at the Federal Court to get an interlocutory injunction order to stop 14 entities, including the Kelantan state government, from carrying out work on their ancestral land.

The villagers wanted to get the interlocutory injunction order, pending the disposal of their lawsuit in the High Court.

Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Hasnah Mohammed Hashim dismissed the villagers' application to obtain leave to appeal with no order as to cost.

She ruled that the villagers failed to meet the threshold requirement under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and that there were no (legal) questions of general importance that had not been decided by the Federal Court.

In the court proceedings conducted online, lawyer Sachpreetraj Singh Sohanpal, representing the villagers, raised seven questions of law which he contended that the Federal Court ought to determine as those questions involved novel issues that were not decided by the Federal Court.

Three orang asli villagers — Ahak Uda, Aziz Angah and Anjang Uda — had filed the suit for themselves and also on behalf of the Kg Kelaik villagers at the Kota Bahru High Court to declare that they were the rightful owners of their ancestral land.

In their writ of summons, they named Syarikat Perlombongan Gua Musang Sdn Bhd, Redstar Capital Sdn Bhd, Aqua Orion Sdn Bhd, Damai Corporate Services Sdn Bhd, Sindiyan Sdn Bhd, and Sindiyan Agro Park Sdn Bhd as the first to sixth defendants.

Ladang Kelantan Sdn Bhd, Ikrar Bumi Sdn Bhd, Ladang Ulu Nenggiri Sdn Bhd, Iliasco Engineering & Construction Sdn Bhd, Kelantan Land and Mines Department, Kelantan Forestry Department, Orang Asli Development Department, and Kelantan state government were named as the seventh to 14th defendants.

In their statement of claim, the villagers alleged that the defendants had encroached upon their ancestral land for mining, logging as well as oil palm and rubber tree plantations, which affected the daily livelihood of villagers living in the areas.

On March 18, 2021, the Kota Bahru High Court granted an ex parte interlocutory injunction order to the villagers. However, they failed to obtain inter parte interlocutory injunction from the High Court, which was dismissed on Aug 20, 2021.

They also lost their appeal at the Court of Appeal, which was dismissed on April 21, after the Court of Appeal ruled that no injunction, whether interlocutory or permanent, could be granted against the government under Section 29 of the Government Proceedings Act 1956 and Section 54 of the Specific Relief Act 1950.

The suit has been fixed for case management on Dec 14 at the Kota Bharu High Court.