Anwar's judicial review application for physical contact with family dismissed

Shanti Gunaratnam

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed a judicial review application by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to quash a decision by the Sungai Buloh prison denying him physical contact with his family members.

Judge Datuk Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamed, in dismissing the application, said there was no irrationality, illegality, or procedural impropriety in the Prison's Department’s decision to deny Anwar physical contact with his family.

She also said the court cannot interfere with the rules and regulations of the Prison Department.

"The department, in its letter to Anwar, did say they will consider applications for physical contact, on a case-by-case basis," she said.

Anwar, serving a five-year jail sentence at the Sungai Buloh Prison for sodomy, filed his application at the High Court Registry on May 18, last year.

The legal action, which named him and nine members of his immediate family as applicants, sought to overturn the refusal of the Sungai Buloh Prison Director to permit physical contact between them during visits.

The applicants claimed they had suffered and incurred hardship from the denial of physical contact, which they described as unreasonable and unlawful.

They also alleged that the refusal to permit physical contact violated their fundamental rights of personal liberty and equality before the law, among others.

Anwar and his family are seeking a court order to compel the prison director and two other respondents to allow physical contact for the full duration of each visit.

The other respondents are the Prison Commissioner-General and the Home Minister.

Besides Anwar, 69, the other judicial review applicants are his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 63; his daughters Nurul Izzah, 35; Nurul Nuha, 32; Nurul Ilham, 28, and Nurul Iman, 25, and the couple's four grandchildren.

Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bol Hassan appeared for the Sungai Buloh Prison director, Prison Commissioner-General and the Home Minister, while N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya represented Anwar.

The court also awarded RM1,000 to the respondents.