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Federal Court grants leave to developer, DBKL to appeal in Taman Rimba Kiara case

PUTRAJAYA (Sept 1): The developer of the proposed Taman Rimba Kiara project and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) were today granted leave by the Federal Court to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal to quash the project’s development order.

The leave was granted this afternoon by a three-man bench led by Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed after hearing oral submissions from lawyers representing Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of Malton Bhd), DBKL, as well as Bukit Kiara longhouse residents, who were seeking permission to appeal at the Federal Court.

Oral submissions were also heard by the judges from lawyers representing the TTDI residents.

The apex court considered questions of law formulated by Memang Perkasa, DBKL and the longhouse residents and allowed leave for the appeal on four main points.

“We agree with the submissions of the applicants to the effect that the four core points, which further argument and a decision of this court would be of public advantage,” he said after hearing submissions via Zoom this morning.

The bench which made the unanimous decision was rounded off by Datuk Zaleha Yusof and Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang, who will decide on a date to hear the four core points of the appeal.

The four legal issues as outlined by Azahar in his decision are the locus standi or legal standing of the TTDI residents to file the initial legal action at the High Court, conflict of interest, the legal impact of the Kuala Lumpur structure plan on the development, and the duty of the government to give reasons for a planning decision to the objectors.

The residents as respondents were represented by Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar. B Thangaraj appeared for DBKL, and Tan Sri Cecil Abraham for Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan while Memang Perkasa was represented by former Federal Court judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram.

Datuk Harpal Singh Grewal represented the longhouse residents.

On Jan 27, a three-member Court of Appeal bench led by Federal Court judge Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan unanimously decided that the development order obtained in 2017 by the joint venture between Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) and Memang Perkasa for the project is null and void.

In doing so, Justice Lim set aside the High Court's decision on Nov 28, 2018, which dismissed the TTDI residents' bid to stop the proposed mixed development project on a 25-acre site.

The three-judge bench that also included Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk S Nantha Balan ruled that there are appealable errors which warranted intervention by the appellate court.

The project was approved by DBKL and former federal territories (FT) ministers Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (during the Barisan Nasional administration) and Khalid Samad (under the Pakatan Harapan government).

TTDI residents protested against the proposed development comprising eight blocks of high-end serviced apartments and one block of affordable housing apartments for residents of the Bukit Kiara longhouse, which had secured conditional planning permission and a development order from DBKL.

In a statement after the decision, the TTDI residents association also sent a stern warning to DBKL and the opposing parties that the quashing of the development order by the appellate court continues to be binding till the matter is disposed of in the Federal Court.

“In the meantime, we wish to remind DBKL, the FT Ministry and all relevant parties that the Court of Appeal decision quashing the Taman Rimba Kiara development order continues to be binding. The condo development order continues to be null and void, and we caution DBKL, the FT Ministry and/or any other parties against attempting any steps that may compromise the condition of Taman Rimba Kiara pending completion of the appeal process,” it warned.

Furthermore the statement read that the residents association noted the Federal Court’s decision to grant limited permission on only the four core issues to pursue the appeal.

“We note that the Federal Court panel thought there were specific, limited issues of law which had been brought up in the course of the case so far, which merited further examination and analysis at the Federal Court,” it said.

It went on to state that it is confident that the Federal Court will confirm the findings of the appellate court in halting the development order.

“We believe that such further examination of the law before the Federal Court will eventually confirm the findings of the Court of Appeal, that the development order for the Taman Rimba Kiara project did not comply with the applicable rules and procedures, and that it is null and void,” it read. 

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