• “Since the extension of time is dismissed, this court is not seized with the jurisdiction to hear the merits of the judicial review application."

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 29): The High Court here on Monday (Aug 29) has struck out the Penang government's application for a judicial review to challenge the revocation of the first Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report that led to the Department of Environment's (DOE) appeal board preventing the implementation of the Penang South Island (PSI) reclamation project,which involves the construction of three artificial islands.

This follows judge Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh dismissing the state's application for an extension of time to file the judicial review application to quash the decision made by the appeal board on Sept 8 last year that allowed the objection made by a group of fishermen against the project.

Wan Ahmad Farid said as the extension of time is not granted, the judicial review application is dismissed with costs to be paid to Zakaria Ismail, who led the group.

The judge added that the High Court deputy registrar had struck out the judicial review application in December last year as the filing of the papers of the Penang government were not in order.

By seeking more time, Wan Ahmad Farid said the Penang government was blaming the courts for its judicial review application being filed out of time when in fact, it had not provided detailed grounds for the late filing.

The judge said the Penang government should have filed the application by Dec 7, 2021 and it did not explain why it was delayed.

“With respect, I cannot accept this reason for the extension of time (and thus blaming the courts) to be granted. In view of the lack of materials before me, this court is not inclined to grant the extension of time.

“Since the extension of time is dismissed, this court is not seized with the jurisdiction to hear the merits of the judicial review application. The time frame as prescribed by the rules should be followed and when the time lapsed, the court is not seized with the jurisdiction to consider the application,” he added.

The Penang government had named the DOE appeal board and Zakaria as respondents in the judicial review application. It initially included the federal government and the DOE as respondents before amending the application.

Zakaria, who heads the Sungai Batu fishermen unit, had opposed the PSI project. The appeal board then revoked the initial EIA approval given for the project in 2019.

As a result, the Penang government wanted to initiate the judicial review to quash the decision, but it filed the application on Dec 17 last year, which was out of time.

In judicial review applications, the matter has to be filed within three months from the date of the decision. This had resulted in the High Court deputy registrar striking out the application and the Penang government seeking the extension.

However, the Penang government had submitted a second EIA to the federal government for consideration, which will incorporate the latest data such as a hydraulic report, social impact study report, fisheries study report and other studies required by the DOE before this.

The project entails building three artificial islands in Southern Penang.

Zakaria was on Monday represented by counsel Jessica Binwani while the Penang government was represented by Charanjit Singh. Federal counsel Theiva Lingam appeared for the appeal board.

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