Friday October 19, 2012
High Court overturns decision to expel member over ROS report
By QISHIN TARIQ
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has overturned the decision by the Royal Lake Club to expel a member who was alleged to have purportedly reported the club to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) for increasing the membership subscription fees without proper approval.
The court ordered the club to reinstate Lee Mew Kwan as a member with immediate effect and its order of persona non grata made on Oct 13, 2010, be set aside.
Justice Prasad Sandosham Abraham held that the proceedings leading to her expulsion were flawed.
He said in his judgment that the club’s handling of Lee’s subsequent appeal had several weaknesses.
He questioned the impartiality of the club’s appeal committee because its members were those who should not have participated in the appeal process.
Justice Prasad found that the club’s declaration of Lee as a persona non grata, which barred her from the club premises during the appeal process, had impaired the proceedings.
Taking into account these factors, the judge found it reasonable for the court to step in and render the expulsion order void and the persona non grata order be set aside.
The ROS had in a letter on June 10, 2010, asked the club’s committee to show cause for not complying with the constitutional rules and club bye-laws.
Lee filed a suit on July 13 last year to be reinstated, saying she had been unjustly expelled from the club.
In her statement of claim, she said the club refused to provide her with relevant documents required for her defence during the disciplinary proceedings.
She claimed that the persona non grata order, which had been made in bad faith, prevented a fair appeal against the expulsion.
According to the facts of the case, Lee, who was then a general committee member, had objected to the proposed increase in club subscription rates at a general committee meeting, claiming that it contradicted the RLC’s constitution.
Three members of the club lodged a complaint against Lee to the disciplinary committee, alleging that she had made a report with ROS.
Although the purported report to ROS was never proven, the disciplinary panel found her guilty based on circumstantial evidence and recommended her expulsion as a member of the club.
Justice Prasad also awarded Lee RM5,000 in nominal damages on the basis that her reinstatement was sufficient vindication for her.