Mindef cannot use harassment law to make TOC remove statements – High Court

Mindef cannot invoke the Protection from Harassment Act as it is not a "person", the High Court ruled.

The High Court has ruled that the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) cannot use the Protection from Harassment Act to make The Online Citizen remove statements made by an inventor over a patent rights dispute.

TOC hailed the ruling by Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon on Wednesday (9 December), which overturned a decision made by District Judge Bala Reddy in May.

“TOC is happy that our decision to contest Mindef's use of the Protection from Harassment Act has been vindicated,” the blog said on its Facebook page.

The Act, which was passed in November last year, provides a wide range of protection for victims of both offline and online harassment.

JC See ruled that Mindef cannot initiate legal actions under the Act as it is not a “person”.

In May, DJ Reddy granted an application by Mindef to order the TOC to remove the statements made by Ting Choon Meng over his dispute with Mindef on its mobile medical station. Ting’s comments were found in the blog’s article published in January.

TOC and Ting subsequently filed an appeal against the district court’s ruling.

Having won the case, TOC and Ting did not ask for costs of the appeal against Mindef, as “the issue concerned a novel point of law of public interest”.

“We hope that the Government will do the same in the future, should it win cases involving novel points of law of public interest,” TOC said.