|  | 

Property News

Govt in settlement talks over Semantan Estate dispute, court told

“There has been some development following a change in government and ministers. That put us in a difficult position to reach a settlement,” Shamsul added.
PUTRAJAYA (Oct 24): The federal government has told the Court of Appeal (COA) on Tuesday that it was in the midst of negotiating a settlement with Semantan Estate (1952) Sdn Bhd for a seven-decade dispute over 263.272 acres of land along Jalan Duta that is currently occupied by public properties.
The land is located along Jalan Duta in Mukim Batu, upon which sits the Malaysian Institute of Integrity, the National Archives, the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court, the government complex building in Jalan Duta and the Federal Territory mosque.
Senior federal counsel (SFC) Shamsul Bolhassan, who is also deputy head I of the Attorney General’s Chambers’ civil division, told a three-member appellate bench led by judge Datuk Lee Swee Seng that Putrajaya is applying for an adjournment to Semantan Estate’s appeal hearing scheduled on Tuesday, following a negotiated settlement between parties.
Shamsul apologised to the bench for being late in seeking the adjournment, citing a letter from Semantan Estate that it had only received on Monday.
“They (Semantan Estate) wrote to us as they want to facilitate negotiations,” he said, adding that the government will decide on the quantum of damages in mesne profit.
“There has been some development following a change in government and ministers. That put us in a difficult position to reach a settlement,” Shamsul added.
The SFC initially mentioned that the government had agreed on a possible quantum but could not reach a deal on the mode of payment.
However, Semantan counsel Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, who appeared with Ira Biswas and Janet Chai, told the appellate court that they were unsure whether an amount had been agreed upon.
Lee and other members of the bench were not inclined to agree to an adjournment, as there was neither anything concrete nor a plan pointing towards the settlement, and the case had gone on for too long.
“This case happened before I was born — pre-Merdeka,” Lee said, indicating the bench was prepared to hear the case in the afternoon, after parties have discussed the settlement.
However, Shamsul said they may need more time as the matter of settlement would not be easy, as it would have to be brought to various ministries and also the Cabinet.
Cyrus concurred with the SFC about the complexity of the situation.
The third member of the bench, Datuk Azizul Azmi Adnan, told Shamsul that the government should provide material progress with regards to the settlement negotiations.
However, Shamsul and Ira told the bench that this would be hard to do, as they are not involved in said negotiations.
Following this, Shamsul requested for a three-month adjournment.
Final adjournment granted
The court was informed that there were two prior adjournments made before this, but it was not the fault of both parties, as on the first occasion there was insufficient time to hear the appeal, and during the second time, there was not enough quorum to meet the three-member bench.
After a short break, Lee, who sat with Datuk Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali and Azizul, granted a final adjournment of the hearing for another three months.
“We (the bench) appreciate the current problem that has been inherited by the previous generation. However, the problem, if it is unable to be settled, has to be resolved by the court.
“The bench does not know [at] what stage of the negotiation is now. There is also a timeline for the court to resolve cases before us. This case had lasted some seven decades before Merdeka. This court does not want to stand in the way of the convoluted dispute unless it is properly addressed by the negotiation,” he said.
Lee said the court has agreed to grant a three-month adjournment and there should be no further adjournments.
Following case management this afternoon, the appellate court fixed Feb 15 next year as the hearing of the appeal should the parties fail to reach a settlement.
The appeal on Tuesday by Semantan Estate involved a judicial review to reacquire the land titles to Semantan that the High Court had dismissed in 2021.
Presently, the High Court is also hearing mesne profit damages sought by Semantan Estate. The company is seeking RM3.1 billion, but this amount may be increased to RM6.646 billion with simple interest and RM13.242 billion with compounded interest.
However, the government had argued that the compensation should be in the range of RM290 million.
In 2009, the High Court ruled that the government had wrongly acquired the land and further ruled that it had trespassed on the land. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in May 2012, and subsequently upheld by the Federal Court .
The government tried to review the Federal Court’s decision in 2012, but the apex court dismissed its application in November 2018.
As a result of the decision, the High Court was ordered to estimate the mesne profits that is to be paid out to Semantan.
The company also filed a judicial review in a bid to acquire back the land titles to Semantan, but the High Court dismissed its judicial review to acquire the land in October 2021 and this was the appeal fixed on Tuesday (Oct 24).
Looking to buy a home? Sign up for EdgeProp START and get exclusive rewards and vouchers for ANY home purchase in Malaysia (primary or subsale)!

Source: EdgeProp.my

Latest News


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

Email *