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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Hindraf can settle upkeep costs after court allows temporary stay application


The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) will now be able to settle upkeep costs, such as office maintenance and utility bills.

This followed on the heels of the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision today to allow the group’s bid to temporarily stay the decisions by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) director-general and the home minister over its deregistration.

Previously, Hindraf had hauled both of them to court over the decisions.

The first was a decision by the RoS director-general on Sept 30, 2019, to deregister the group.

The second one was a decision by the home minister on Aug 7 last year to uphold the earlier decision.

Judge Mariana Yahya allowed the stay application by Hindraf, pending disposal of the main judicial review action against the deregistration.

The group’s counsel Annou Xavier confirmed the outcome of the proceedings, which were conducted via email.

“The High Court has allowed Hindraf’s application to suspend the decisions of the Registrar of Societies director-general and the home minister, pending disposal of the judicial review.

“The effect of today’s ruling is as if the society (Hindraf) has not been struck off, until disposal of the legal action.

“It will be able to function as a registered society, being able to settle the cost of office maintenance, pay electricity and water bills, and pay staff salaries,” Annou told Malaysiakini.

Hindraf's counsel Annou Xavier

Previously, on Feb 22 this year, the High Court granted leave for Hindraf to proceed with its judicial review application.

The court will hear submissions from parties over the merits of the judicial review proper at a later date.

On Dec 22 last year, Hindraf filed the legal action at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

The human rights organisation is acting through its office bearer, the former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of national unity and social wellbeing P Waytha Moorthy.

Hindraf is challenging the validity of two decisions, by the RoS director-general and the minister respectively, in relation to the deregistration of the organisation.

Hindraf claimed that the RoS director-general had sought to deregister the group for alleged contravention of the Societies Act 1966.

The group alleged that it had then replied through letters to the RoS director-general on Sept 26 and 30, 2019, which sought to provide proof for the deregistration not to be carried out.

It claimed that, despite its replies, the director-general on Sept 30 the same year issued a letter to deregister the organisation.

Hindraf claimed it then sent a letter dated Oct 24, 2019, to the minister to appeal against the director-general’s decision.

The group claimed that the minister, on Aug 7 last year, informed Hindraf that the appeal was dismissed and the decision to deregister was upheld.

Hindraf is seeking a court order to compel the RoS director-general and the minister to cancel their decisions and register the group again, to take effect from Sept 30, 2019.

It also seeks a declaration that the two decisions to deregister the NGO are illegal and thus null and void; and an order to temporarily suspend the two decisions, pending disposal of the judicial review application.

It also seeks cost in the cause and any other relief deemed fit by the court.

Hindraf came into the media spotlight following its rally in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 that sought to highlight alleged ethnically discriminatory policies in Malaysia. - Mkini

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