Court dismisses three Hindraf leaders’ bid for freedom

(Bernama) PUTRAJAYA: Three leaders of the banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders will remain under Internal Security Act (ISA) detention for two years after the Federal Court here today (16 April) dismissed their second bid for freedom.

Justice Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman, who heard their appeals with justices Datuk Seri S.Augustine Paul and Datuk Hashim Yusoff, said the court would deliver the grounds of the unanimous judgment later.

The three were M. Manoharan, 48, P. Uthayakumar, 47, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 36.

The court also struck out the appeals of two other Hindraf leaders after their counsel, Karpal Singh, applied to withdraw the appeals as the duo had been released from ISA detention.

Lawyer R. Kengadharan, 42, and V. Ganabatirau, 36, were among the 13 ISA detainees released by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when he was sworn-in as the new prime minister on April 5.

The five filed the second joint application at the Ipoh High Court on May 30 last year after a similar application was dismissed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court and the Federal Court.

They were detained for two years at the Kamunting detention centre in Taiping, Perak, on Dec 13, 2007, for alleged involvement in organising a street protest in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25, 2007, and for making inflammatory remarks against the government.

They were unsuccessful in their first application which was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Dec 26, 2007 after they were arrested.

In the second joint habeas corpus application, they challenged the validity of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's order confirming the recommendation of the ISA Advisory Board for extension of their detention on and after March 26 last year because of procedural non-compliance by the Advisory Board.

Karpal Singh told reporters outside the court that he would file for a review of today's decision.

He said the court should have delivered the grounds of judgment today as it had ample time to prepare the judgment after the the last proceedings were on March 11.

Meanwhile, in KUALA LUMPUR, Uthayakumar failed in his fourth bid to be released from ISA detention after the High Court rejected his habeas corpus application.

Judicial Commissioner Azman Abdullah, in allowing the preliminary objection by deputy public prosecutor Najib Zakaria, said that the application was made on the same medical ground which had been litigated and dismissed by another High Court in Uthayakumar's previous habeas corpus application.

He made the decision after hearing submissions from Najib and counsel S.Y. Chew, for Uthayakumar.

Earlier, Najib told the court that Uthayakumar's application for a writ of habeas corpus was not made in good faith, and was not the proper remedy for Uthayakumar to secure his release from the ISA detention to get proper medical treatment for his alleged foot injury.

"I am puzzled to note that since his detention in December 2007, there has been no formal application by the applicant to allow his private medical practitioner to come to give his medical treatment. Instead he chose to apply for habeas corpus (to get the medical treatment)," said Najib in his preliminary objection.

Najib also submitted that Uthayakumar could not re-litigate the same issue of medical treatment since it had been pleaded in his previous application which was dismissed by the High Court on Sept 17 last year.

Chew, in her reply, said that the application was made under different circumstances and no adjudication had been made on that ground by the High Court before.

She also urged the court to take a different view and to change its mindset on the remedy of habeas corpus. "Traditionally and in the past, the court dealt with the validity of the detention, that is whether the government had a reasonable ground to order detention in the interest of public security." Habeas corpus also means to free an individual from deprivation of his liberty.

Uthayakumar is entitled to his life. Here he is deprived of his medical treatment which is a threat to his life," she said. On March 27 this year, Uthayakumar filed his fourth habeas corpus application at the High Court here on the ground that he needed immediate treatment for his leg which was swollen, black and in terrible pain.

He named the Home Minister and the superintendent of the Taiping detention centre as respondents.