ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: Judicial review - Certiorari - Application under O. 53 Rules of the High Court 1980 to challenge Industrial Court award - Whether reference to High Court on question of law should have been under s. 33A Industrial Relations Act 1967 and not under O. 53 - Whether s. 33A confined to reference on question of law and does not involve issues of facts, evidence and merits - Whether application under O. 53 correct mode

[CIVIL APPEAL NO: S-01-227-2011]
15 MAY 2012

The second respondent, faced with two allegations of misconduct, was dismissed by the appellant company pursuant to a recommendation by the panel of domestic inquiry. However, the Industrial Court found that the appellant had failed on a balance of probability to establish both the allegations and concluded that the second respondent was dismissed without just cause or excuse. The appellant subsequently filed an application for judicial review at the High Court pursuant to O. 53 of the Rules of the High Court 1980 ('RHC'). The appellant obtained leave to apply for an order of certiorari and to stay the Industrial Court award and/or actions and proceedings by the second respondent pending the disposal of the judicial review. However, the second respondent raised a preliminary objection on the ground that the appellant should have, in the light of the specific provisions of s. 33A of the Industrial Relations Act 1967 ('IRA'), challenged the award by way of reference to the High Court on a question of law under s. 33A and not by way of a judicial review application under O. 53 of the RHC. The learned judicial commissioner ('JC') allowed the preliminary objection and dismissed the judicial review application. The learned JC held that the procedure under s. 33A of the IRA is the procedure prescribed by the law for challenging the award made by the Industrial Court pursuant to s. 30(1) of the IRA and there is no provision in the IRA that provides for an alternative mode for challenging the award. Hence, the present appeal by the appellant which raised the issue of whether the appellant could, in light of s. 33A of the IRA, challenge the Industrial Court award by way of judicial review.

Held (allowing appeal with costs)

Per Ramly Ali JCA delivering the judgment of the court:

(1) The reference mechanism under s. 33A of the IRA effectively lies with the discretion of the Industrial Court ie, whether to refer or not to refer the questions to the High Court whereas judicial review is a creature of the common law and is available in the exercise of the court's inherent power. A decision susceptible to judicial review is not only open to challenge on the ground of procedural impropriety, but also on the grounds of illegality, irrationality and proportionality; R Rama Chandran v. The Industrial Court of Malaysia & Anor (refd); Council of Civil Service Union & Ors v. Minister for Civil Service (refd). (paras 20, 21 & 25)

(2) Despite the provisions of the ouster clause in ss. 33A(7) and 33B of the IRA, the decision or award of the Industrial Court cannot escape the judicial interference by way of judicial review of the High Court. Hotel Equatorial (M) Sdn Bhd v. National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers & Anor (refd). (para 28)

(3) Based on the authorities of the Federal Court, the law is clear and well settled. Any party who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Industrial Court, either on procedural or substantive grounds is entitled in law to apply for judicial review to the High Court pursuant to O. 53 of the RHC without having first to invoke the mechanism under s. 33A of the IRA. The provisions of the IRA, particularly s. 33A(7) and s. 33B do not proscribe a judicial review remedy under O. 53 of the RHC. (para 33)

(4) The appellant initiated judicial review under O. 53 of the RHC and had complied with all the relevant requirements under O. 53 and had also obtained leave for filing of the same. In the circumstances, the mode of proceedings under O. 53 as adopted by the appellant was correct. (para 33)

(5) The concern showed by the learned JC that, in the instant case, the Industrial Court was made a party and this goes against the spirit of s. 24(2) of the IRA, was clearly unfounded and was a misconception of law. When the Industrial Court is made a party (as one of the respondents) in an action for judicial review, it is the award of the Industrial Court that was being challenged and not any member of the court. R Rama Chandran v. The Industrial Court of Malaysia & Anor (refd). (para 34)

(6) The appellant was challenging the decision and the award made by the Industrial Court and not referring any question of law to the High Court under s. 33A of the IRA. Challenging the whole decision and award by way of judicial review may involve issues of law as well as of facts, evidence and merits. Mechanism under s. 33A is only confined to reference on question of law. It does not serve the purpose of the appellant in the present case. The appellant had clearly adopted the correct mode and procedure by applying for a judicial review pursuant to O. 53 of the RHC. Therefore, the learned JC had clearly erred in upholding the preliminary objection raised by the second respondent and dismissing the appellant's judicial review application on that ground. (para 36, 38 & 39)

Bahasa Malaysia Translation Of Headnotes

Responden kedua, yang menghadapi dua dakwaan salah laku, diberhentikan oleh syarikat perayu berikutan saranan oleh panel siasatan dalaman. Walau bagaimanapun, Mahkamah Perusahaan mendapati bahawa perayu telah gagal atas imbangan kebarangkalian untuk membuktikan kedua-dua dakwaan dan mendapati bahawa perayu telah diberhentikan tanpa sebab atau alasan adil. Perayu kemudiannya memfailkan permohonan semakan kehakiman di Mahkamah Tinggi berikutan A. 53 Kaedah-Kaedah Mahkamah Tinggi 1980 ('KMT'). Perayu memperoleh kebenaran untuk memohon perintah certiorari dan penggantungan award Mahkamah Perusahaan dan/atau tindakan dan prosiding oleh responden kedua sementara menunggu keputusan semakan kehakiman. Walau bagaimanapun, responden kedua membangkitkan bantahan awalan atas alasan bahawa perayu sepatutnya, menurut peruntukan spesifik s. 33A Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967 ('Akta'), mencabar award tersebut secara rujukan kepada Mahkamah Tinggi atas persoalan undang-undang di bawah s. 33A dan bukan secara permohonan semakan kehakiman di bawah A. 53 KMT. Yang arif persuruhjaya kehakiman ('PK') membenarkan bantahan awalan dan menolak permohonan semakan kehakiman. Yang arif PK memutuskan bahawa prosedur di bawah s. 33A Akta adalah prosedur yang diperuntukkan di bawah undang-undang untuk mencabar award yang diberikan oleh Mahkamah Perusahaan menurut s. 30(1) Akta dan tidak ada peruntukan di bawah Akta tersebut yang memperuntukkan cara alternatif untuk mencabar award tersebut. Maka rayuan ini oleh perayu, yang membangkitkan isu sama ada perayu boleh, menurut s. 33A Akta tersebut, mencabar award Mahkamah Perusahaan melalui semakan kehakiman.

Diputuskan (membenarkan rayuan dengan kos)

Oleh Ramly Ali HMR menyampaikan penghakiman mahkamah:

(1) Mekanisme rujukan di bawah s. 33A Akta tersebut secara berkesan termaktub di bawah budi bicara Mahkamah Perusahaan iaitu sama ada hendak membuat rujukan berkaitan persoalan tersebut ke Mahkamah Tinggi atau tidak manakala semakan kehakiman adalah dibentuk di bawah common law dan wujud dalam pelaksanaan kuasa sedia ada mahkamah. Suatu keputusan yang terbuka kepada semakan kehakiman bukan hanya terbuka kepada cabaran atas alasan ketidakadilan prosedur, malah atas alasan ketaksahan, ketidakrasionalan dan kesetimpalan; R Rama Chandran v. The Industrial Court of Malaysia & Anor (dirujuk); Council of Civil Service Union & Ors v Minister for Civil Service (dirujuk).

(2) Walaupun terdapat peruntukan klausa penyingkiran di dalam ss. 33A(7) dan 33B Akta tersebut, keputusan atau award Mahkamah Perusahaan tidak boleh lari daripada campur tangan undang-undang melalui semakan kehakiman oleh Mahkamah Tinggi. Hotel Equatorial (M) Sdn Bhd v. National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers & Anor (dirujuk).

(3) Berdasarkan kepada otoriti-otoriti Mahkamah Persekutuan, undang-undang adalah jelas dan matan. Mana-mana pihak yang tidak berpuashati dengan keputusan Mahkamah Perusahaan, sama ada atas alasan prosedur atau substantif, adalah berhak dari segi undang-undang untuk memohon semakan kehakiman kepada Mahkamah Tinggi berikutan A. 53 KMT tanpa membangkitkan mekanisme di bawah s. 33A Akta tersebut. Peruntukan Akta tersebut, khususnya s. 33A(7) dan s. 33B tidak mengharamkan remedi semakan kehakiman di bawah A. 53 KMT.

(4) Perayu memulakan semakan kehakiman di bawah A. 53 KMT dan telah mematuhi kesemua keperluan yang relevan di bawah A. 53 dan juga telah memperoleh kebenaran untuk memfailkannya. Dalam keadaan tersebut, cara memulakan prosiding di bawah A. 53 yang digunakan oleh perayu adalah betul.

(5) Kebimbangan yang ditunjukkan oleh yang arif PK bahawa, di dalam kes ini, Mahkamah Perusahaan dijadikan salah satu pihak dan ini adalah bertentangan dengan maksud s. 24(2) Akta tersebut, jelas tidak berasas dan adalah salah tanggapan undang-undang. Apabila Mahkamah Perusahaan dijadikan pihak (sebagai salah satu responden) di dalam tindakan semakan kehakiman, hanya award tersebut yang dicabar dan bukannya mana-mana ahli mahkamah tersebut. R Rama Chandran v. The Industrial Court of Malaysia & Anor (dirujuk).

(6) Perayu mencabar keputusan dan award yang dibuat oleh Mahkamah Perusahaan dan bukan merujuk apa-apa persoalan undang-undang ke Mahkamah Tinggi di bawah s. 33A Akta. Mencabar keseluruhan keputusan dan award melalui semakan kehakiman mungkin melibatkan isu-isu undang-undang dan juga fakta, keterangan dan merit. Mekanisme di bawah s. 33A hanya terhad kepada rujukan atas persoalan undang-undang. Ia tidak berguna kepada perayu di dalam kes ini. Perayu telah dengan jelas menggunakan cara dan prosedur yang betul dengan memohon bagi semakan kehakiman di bawah A. 53 KMT, Dengan itu, yang arif PK telah jelas khilaf dalam mengesahkan bantahan awalan yang dibangkitkan oleh responden kedua dan menolak permohonan semakan kehakiman perayu atas alasan tersebut.

Case(s) referred to:

Ahmad Jefri Mohd Jahri v. Pengarah Kebudayaan & Kesenian Johor & Ors [2010] 5 CLJ 865 FC (refd)

Chief Constable of North Wales v. Evans [1982] 1 WLR 1155 (refd)

Council of Civil Service Union v. Minister for the Civil Service [1985] AC 374 (refd)

Hotel Equatorial (M) Sdn Bhd v. National Union of Hotel, Bar & Restaurant Workers & Anor [1984] 2 CLJ 6; [1984] 1 CLJ (Rep) 155 FC (refd)

Kesatuan Pekerja Dan Kenderaan Jaya v. Industrial Court & Ors [1968] 1 LNS 55 HC (refd)

R Rama Chandran v. Industrial Court of Malaysia & Anor [1997] 1 CLJ 147 FC (refd)

Ranjit Kaur S Gopal Singh v. Hotel Excelsior (M) Sdn Bhd [2010] 8 CLJ 629 FC (refd)

Sabah Banking Employees' Union v. Sabah Commercial Banks' Association [1989] 2 CLJ 135; [1989] 1 CLJ (Rep) 148 SC (refd)

Legislation referred to:

Courts of Judicature Act 1964, s. 25 para 1

Industrial Relations Act 1967, ss. 20(3), 24(2), 30(1), 33A(1)(c), (d), (5), (7), 33B

Rules of the High Court 1980, O. 53

For the appellant - Sukumaran Vanugopal; M/s S Vanugopal & Partners

For the respondent - Yunof Maringking; M/s Maringking & Co

[Editor's note: For the High Court judgment, please see Sabah Forest Industries v. Industrial Court Malaysia & Anor [2010] 7 CLJ 114.]

Reported by S Barathi