Rumah Bonda’s application for review of JKM’s seal order reverted to High Court for hearing

PUTRAJAYA – The Court of Appeal today ordered the judicial review application by Pertubuhan Kebajikan Rumah Bonda Kuala Lumpur (Rumah Bonda) to challenge the Federal Territory Social Welfare Department’s (JKM) action in sealing its premises to be reverted for hearing at the High Court.

A panel of three Court of Appeal judges led by Datuk Seri Kamaludin Md Said, in a unanimous decision, said there was merit in Rumah Bonda’s appeal and the court agreed that the application should be heard substantively.

“Therefore, the previous decision of the High Court is set aside and leave is granted to the appellant to initiate a judicial review in that court,” he added.

Judge Kamaludin, who sat with Judges Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali and Datuk Collin Lawrence during the proceeding which was held via video conference, also fixed Aug 8 for the mention of the case at the High Court.

On Nov 15, 2021, the High Court, in allowing an objection by the Attorney-General’s Chambers, dismissed Rumah Bonda’s application for leave to initiate a judicial review of the action by JKM in sealing its premises.

The action by JKM followed the alleged abuse of a Down Syndrome teenager known as Bella at the house.

Rumah Bonda, through its chairman Siti Bainun Ahd Razali (picture), filed the application at the High Court on Aug 13, 2021, naming the director of the Federal Territory JKM and the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development as the respondents.

In the application, Siti Bainun stated, among others, that the seal order issued by JKM on July 9, 2021, and the sealing of the premises on July 12 were influenced by public pressure, following media reports on allegations of child abuse at the home which went viral on July 5.

Siti Bainun claimed that the action by both respondents was done in haste following public pressure for JKM and the government to take action with regard to the alleged abuse case at the premises.

She also applied for a declaration order that at that material time, Rumah Bonda was not an illegal shelter or care centre.

Lawyer Asiah Abd Jalil, representing Rumah Bonda, in her submission today, said the case is of public interest and has merit to be heard.

She said her client was in the process of registering Rumah Bonda since the beginning of 2019 and the form and letter of support, which was signed by both respondents for the purpose of registration, had been sent to the Federal Territory JKM.

“At that time, the Fire and Rescue Department had approved the premises, while the Health Department and Kuala Lumpur City Hall had set a date to carry out the inspection, but due to the COVID-19 situation then, the inspection could not be done,” she added.

The prosecution, conducted by senior federal counsel Nur Idayu Amir, said that the seal action against Rumah Bonda was taken after it was discovered that the care centre was not registered with JKM and operating illegally.

“There is no evidence showing the active involvement of the second respondent (Minister of Women, Family and Community Development) in making the decision to seal the welfare home,” she said, adding that the lock at the premises was opened after Rumah Bonda paid the compound.

On May 3 this year, the Sessions Court ordered Siti Bainun to serve a 12-year prison sentence after finding her guilty of two charges of neglecting and abusing Bella in a condominium unit in Wangsa Maju here between February and June 2021. – BERNAMA