Govt negotiating settlement over land dispute - SFC

24 Oct 2023 05:26pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

PUTRAJAYA - The Court of Appeal here was told today that the government is negotiating a settlement with Semantan Estate (1952) Sdn Bhd over the dispute involving 106.542 hectares of prime land in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

The land, among others, houses the Inland Revenue Office Complex, several other government buildings, the National Hockey Stadium, the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia and the Federal Territory Mosque.

Senior federal counsel (SFC) Shamsul Bolhassan told a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Datuk Lee Swee Heng that in view that negotiation was still in progress, the government applied to adjourn today’s proceedings.

He also told the court that they received a letter from Semantan Estate's counsel yesterday seeking the adjournment to facilitate the negotiations.

"There has been some development following a change of the government and the ministers. That put us in a difficult situation. But we are serious about settling this case. The quantum has been agreed, but parties have yet to reach a deal on the mode of payment," he said, adding that the settlement would have to be brought to the Cabinet before it can be finalised.

Shamsul requested for a three-month adjournment.

Counsel Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, representing Semantan Estate, told the court that the parties involved are in the midst of discussions and negotiations.

Justice Lee then allowed today's adjournment of the hearing for another three months.

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"Assuming the genuineness of parties to settle, this court would not want to stand in the way of a global solution to what is clearly a convoluted dispute, which will not go away unless properly addressed.

"Taking all the factors into consideration, the court grants the final adjournment for three months and no further adjournment shall be entertained. And the case will proceed to the next hearing date if there is no concluded settlement,” he added.

Sitting with Justice Lee are Datuk Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali and Datuk Azizul Azmi Adnan.

Semantan Estate is appealing against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision on October 2021 which dismissed its judicial review application to re-acquire the 106.542 hectare site.

Semantan Estate filed the judicial review application, seeking a mandamus order, among others, to compel the respondents to transfer ownership of the land to the (Semantan Estate) company.

In 2010, the High Court held that the acquisition of the land owned by Semantan Estate was not lawfully executed and the government remained in wrongful possession of the land.

Semantan Estate was awarded damages to be assessed by the High Court senior assistant registrar.

The government then appealed to the Court of Appeal but its appeal was dismissed on May 18, 2012. On Nov 21, 2012, the Federal Court dismissed the government's application to seek leave to appeal against the decision.

The Federal Court also dismissed a government review application in 2018. - BERNAMA

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