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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Court of Appeal dismisses lawyer's appeal for info



The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal by lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu to obtain information in a defamation suit he had filed against The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd.
Americk Singh wanted the NSTP editor-in-chief or a director to answer his interrogatories on, among others, the editorial policy of The New Straits Times and The New Sunday Times newspapers and whether any person or corporate shareholder of the company was involved in Umno.
A three-man bench chaired by Justice Rohana Yusuf dismissed the appeal after ruling that there was no merit on the issues raised by the counsel.
Justice Rohana also ordered Americk Singh to pay RM10,000 costs to NSTP. On the panel with Justice Rohana were Justices Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim.
Americk Singh is suing NSTP for defamation over an article dated March 13, 2016, published in The New Sunday Times under the heading "PI's widow issues
public apology to Najib, Rosmah".
On June 1, last year, he sent a notice of interrogatories containing eleven questions to NSTP. The company answered all but three of the questions.
The High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed Americk Singh's application over the interrogatories on Aug 26 last year.
In his statement of claim, Americk Singh said that from about 2008 until March 2015, he was retained to act as solicitor for the late P Balasubramaniam who died in March 2015.
Americk Singh claimed that the publication of the article was made without verifying the facts alluded to and had damaged his reputation.
He sought general, aggravated and exemplary damages and publication of an apology.
NSTP, in its statement of defence, said the alleged impugned statements were published on an occasion of qualified privilege.

The company said the content of the article was based on what was contained in a press statement issued by Balasubramaniam's wife A Santamil Selvi and the article was published in good faith with full compliance with the duties and obligations of responsible journalism.
Americk Singh's lawyer Gopal Sri Ram submitted that the High Court failed to consider his client's contention that the purpose of the questions requiring NSTP to answer were designed to obtain admissions of fact which in turn would reduce the issues and shorten the length of trial and save costs.
Counsel Claudia Cheah, for NSTP, argued that Americk Singh was at liberty to put appropriate questions to witnesses at the trial set for three days from June 19 this year, and said that his notice of interrogatories was frivolous.
Bernama

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