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High Court allows Convent Bukit Nanas to challenge non-extension of land lease, but stay will only be heard next month

KUALA LUMPUR (April 19): Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Convent Bukit Nanas (SMKCBN) was today granted leave by the High Court here to mount a challenge against the non-renewal of its land lease which is due to expire on Sept 6 this year.

However, its application for a stay pending the disposal of this judicial review will only be heard on May 4, 2021.

“The applicant [Lady Superior of the Society of Saint Maur] that runs the school made an oral application to substitute the Federal Territories director of Land and Mines (PTG) to the Land executive committee for the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

“Following this, the parties representing the school also applied for extension of time to make the amendments. Senior federal counsel M Kogilambigai did not oppose both oral applications to amend the respondent,” Damien Chan, one of the lawyers appearing for the school, told theedgemarkets.com.

Chan appeared with senior counsel and former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, along with Yasmeen Soh, Ian Hannibal and William Lee for the Lady Superior.

Kogilambigai also did not oppose the school's application for leave, but opposed the stay of proceedings.

As a result, Justice Datuk Noorin Badaruddin allowed leave for the full merits of the judicial review to be heard and fixed May 4 for the High Court to hear the stay application inter-partes.

The proceedings for the matter were done online this afternoon.

Yesterday, theedgemarkets.com reported that the firm of Messrs Kevin & Co filed the application on April 7, after the school through the Lady Superior had written to the FT Land and Mines office on Oct 4, 2017 to seek an extension of the land lease.

The Lady Superior only received a reply in January this year, following a letter from the PTG dated Dec 18, 2020 informing that the lease will not be renewed.

Convent Bukit Nanas — which comprises two primary schools and SMKCBN — was established by Christian missionaries in 1899, thus making it one of the oldest schools in the city, and is inside the heritage zone.

However, the present judicial review applies to SMKCBN and not the two primary schools.

It filed the judicial review application where it sought several reliefs namely:

  1. a declaration that the action via the Dec 18 letter for a non-renewal violates of Article 5(1), along with Article 8(1), and Article 12 and 13 of the Federal Constitution. Article 5(1) concerns liberty of a person where no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty under the law. Article 8 concerns equality before the law while Article 12 and 13 concerns rights to education and rights to property
  2. a certiorari order to quash the decision to refuse the extension and it is also seeking a mandamus to compel it to revoke the non-renewal letter as dated on Dec 18 last year, and
  3. another mandamus order to allow the Lady Superior's application pursuant to Sections 197 and 76 of the National Land Code. Those two sections concerns application to surrender the whole land and alienate it.

Besides this, it is also seeking costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.

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